Bab Al Sham's new Indian venture shows promise

  • Masala
There’s no getting away from the fact that Bab Al Shams is an amazing resort. If you visit at night, the hotel just appears out of the blackness of the desert, fully staffed and waiting to serve you, as though it had been conjured from a lamp.

This however, can also be a major downfall – it’s nearly an hour from the city, so you need to plan your visit with more precision than if you were just nipping out for a local curry. It’s worth noting that it takes an hour for a cab to arrive from Dubai, so taxis for the journey home should be ordered when you arrive. There are no magic carpets, and because none of the staff highlighted this (admittedly obvious) point when we arrived, we found ourselves twiddling our thumbs for an hour after our meal.

Masala is the resort’s Indian eatery, and it’s laid out as a series of rooms that are more like little living spaces. While this works in a busy restaurant to afford diners a degree of privacy, in a resort restaurant – which will never be as busy – the division of space only highlights how few diners are in attendance.

Luckily, after a busy week at Time Out Towers, a little space and peace and quiet didn’t actually go amiss. The service was excellent – the waiters were keen to explain which dishes complemented each other, and had an obvious knowledge of their cuisine so often missing in Dubai’s restaurants. But thanks to the lack of other diners, we were a little overexposed to their insistence in sampling the menu’s delights.

The restaurant offers traditional Indian dishes, but many are served in a more interesting manner than you’d usually find. The onion bhaji, for example, isn’t a solid lump of deep-fried food, but a nest of delicately crispy onions, all separated like battered string, which made the dish a lot lighter than other examples.

The choice of main courses felt a little small for such a high-end restaurant, with only three options for chicken and the same for lamb. This was reduced to two if we didn’t want our heads blown off with spice (we were warned away from the balti dish). The murgh makhni was rich and creamy – exactly like it’s supposed to be – while the lamb burranhani gosht had a much darker taste; it came with a paste-like sauce featuring a delicate blend of spices that really sizzled. Although the boneless lamb didn’t fall apart under the fork, it was plump and soft, while a warm stack of perfectly cooked rotis and firm, fluffy pilau rice helped to mop up the plates.

I’d also recommend the side order of a traditional dahl masala, a black, thick, gooey dish, although its flavour was a little lost against the strong-tasting curries. A refreshing little pot of mango kulfi rounded off the meal, with its semi-frozen, home-made texture providing the perfect pick-me- up to what was quite a heavy meal.

If Masala was in Dubai, no doubt its attention to detail and above-average food would attract more of a crowd. Yet its present location means it’s not quite different or stunning enough to be a destination restaurant.

The bill (for two)
1x Large water
1x Onion bhaji Dhs41
1x Burrahani gosht Dhs75
1x Murgh makhni Dhs70
1x Dahl masala Dhs48
2x Tandoor roti Dhs26
1x Mango kulfi Dhs34
Total (including service) Dhs314 Masala
5 1

By Oliver Robinson | 21 June 2011

Location: - Dubailand
Tel: 97148096194
Travel: Next to Endurance Village
Cuisine: Indian
Dresscode: Smart Casual
Experiences: Alcohol available, Outdoor seating, Live music, Smoking permitted
Times: Sunday: 07:00 pm-11:30 pm
Monday: 07:00 pm-11:30 pm
Tuesday: 07:00 pm-11:30 pm
Wednesday: 07:00 pm-11:30 pm
Thursday: 07:00 pm-11:30 pm
Friday: 12:30 pm-03:30 pm
Saturday: 12:30 pm-03:30 pm
Price range: Dhs200-349
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  • waheed Sep 18, 2013 11:39 pm
    Would you go back to this restaurant?
    Best for:
    amazing food! brilliant service. very personal ambience.
    and i repeat... the food is outstanding!! . I can proudly say the Best India meal that i have had In Dubai is in Masala Restaurant at Bab al shams hotel
  • Niranjan May 01, 2012 06:08 am
    Would you go back to this restaurant?
    We went there after reading this review, but we were sadly disappointed. The food was really good but thats about it. The service was terrible. Every time some different person came to serve us. Our order was incorrectly taken and we were presented the bill just after we completed our starters and drinks. We had to let them know that we are interested in having main course as well. After main course staff never asked us for desserts and looked like they were in hurry for closing down, even though it was around 10pm. Also, there was no live music. We had veg food which was of good taste and good value for money. We did feel that the options for main course are a bit limited. The best part of the dinner was the drive from Dubai which is awesome and quite a different experience!!!
  • Sachin Dec 04, 2011 06:29 am
    Would you go back to this restaurant?
    Best for:
    Hi All

    Masala is very nice restaurant, best part you will enjoy driving till Bab Al Shams in the evening.
    Food is really good, I have tried Veg & Non veg sampler for AED 99 & AED 135.
  • Arun Dec 20, 2010 11:45 am
    Would you go back to this restaurant?
    Best for:
    I can proudly say the Best India meal that i have had In Dubai is in Masala Restaurant at Bab al shams hotel. They have the Best butter chicken and the Dal makhni. Their menu variety is just too good. I like the :"Dum Ke Bhooley"a Paneer kebab i have never tried anywhere. Very Innovative. Do try the Hara Kebab and the Balti ghost simply Good to taste. The service staff understand a guest needs and provides the best service in an Indian restaurant although in the Middle of the desert. We finshed with home made Mango and Anjeer kulfi. I Enquired about the chef who makes such lovey food. The Service staff told me the chef who started it was working for an award winning restaurant for ITC from the fame of Bukhara and Kebab and kurries. A place must to vist for all those Indian food lovers. not to forget the Tabla players who keeps you entertained teh whole evening.

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