Vegetarian restaurant in Bur Dubai 13 Reviews
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But nestle on down to one of the gaudy plastic-covered booths, close your eyes, take in a mammoth whiff and you’re back in the land of the Maharajas, petting a gold-embellished elephant and ordering a stack of cumin-infused poppadoms.
When it comes to vegetarian cuisine, the Indians have it nailed. No amount of limp nut cutlets or veggie burgers can compete with the salivating finesse of a plate of steaming tofu tikka masala. Equally, there are few worldly dishes out there that would come close to rivaling the humble chapatti. (Aside from a stodgy plate of chips from a ramshackle British haunt – complete with lashings of salt and vinegar – or perhaps a vat of tabbouleh from Al Mullah in Satwa… But even then there’s a distinct lack of pizzazz.)
So, when Time Out was cornered (we’re resolute carnivores, y’see) into chowing down at Kamat – the veggie sibling of the excellent Gazebo and lauded ‘Not just another vegetarian restaurant’ by its own accord – we expected the moon on a tandoori stick. No, scrap that, we expected to feel like a grandiose Maharaja with a penchant for the finest vegetable-embedded grub in the land.
That’s a fairly hard persona to channel as you’re lunging across manic Bur Dubai traffic in a bid to reach your destination. It’s also never a grand start to an evening when you have to empty a pile of sand from your shoe at the door. Any feelings of decadence are further quashed as Kamat’s clinical decor – it’s like stepping into a scene from The Dentist – and harsh lights render any luxuriant musings defunct.
But nestle into one of the gaudy plastic-covered booths, close your eyes and take in a mammoth whiff, and you’re back in the land of the Maharajas, petting a gold-embellished elephant and ordering a stack of cumin-infused poppadoms. Despite our preference for the meatier side of life, the saffron-infused wafts pouring out of the kitchen is a force to be reckoned with and had us clamouring for the menu like sugar-fuelled brat.
Overwhelmed by the 98 options – who knew the humble vegetable was so versatile? – it was time to bring in the heavy mob. Without further ado, Maja, the utterly professional and wholly attentive waiter, guided us through the raft of delicacies (millet roti is particularly popular, apparently) like a seasoned pro. Before you could mumble ‘tofu tikka masala’, he’d jotted down three dishes that would easily see us through to next Diwali.
Things kick off with a punchy start – the chana masala is a creamy mix of chick peas and tamarind gravy, with a generous dose of chilli. Despite the lack of chicken, we were mopping up gravy with our piping hot naan (or roti) quicker than you could say ‘Big Mac with cheese.’ And the mounds of fluffy rice, bhindi (okra) masala and chapattis were perfectly accompanied with a fresher-than-thou black grape juice – it’s quite thick, so works as a dessert too.
Maja was determined to steer us away from the Jain food, which basically equates to no garlic or onion. ‘Oh, no, no, no,’ he warned, determined to bully us into submission. ‘It doesn’t taste good,’ he continued, leaving Time Out amused by the brutal honesty of the man. But the moment someone says ‘No’, it’s like a red rag to a bull – so we dabbled with a Jain-style tofu tikka kebab, out of curiosity, more than anything.
Jain-style food is the diet of the Jains – the followers of Jainism – who are convinced that harm caused by carelessness is equivalent to harm caused deliberately. According to Maja, some consider their diet the most radical form of eating in India. ‘For Jains, food which contains even small particles of the bodies of dead animals is unacceptable,’ he continued, leaving us mildly relieved that there will be no flies in our feast.
As he nervously looked over to our table – there’s a real sense that these guys want you to enjoy your grub – we allayed any fears by giving him the thumbs up. While the food lacks that coveted kick, there’s a freshness to it that leaves the palate sated, not polluted. The taste of tomatoes, tandoor and cumin is there, the spices are not overwhelmed by ringlets of onion and it’s certainly not the culinary disappointment we’d expected. That said, if you are a carnivorous beast with a penchant for a fireworks display of flavour, it’s probably best to follow Maja’s advice and steer clear.
The remainder of the meal was an odd display of aniseed balls, masala tea and a new place mat that said: ‘Men are like parking spots… the good ones are taken and the rest are handicapped’ – leaving us partly endeared, partly bemused. But then, vegetarianism isn’t for everyone.
The bill (for two)
2x Poppadoms Dhs20
2x Chapattis Dhs20
2x Plain naan Dhs8
2x Steamed rice Dhs8
1x Chana masala Dhs16
1x Bhindi masala Dhs15
1x Jain-style tofu kebab masala Dhs23
1x Masala tea Dhs5
2x Black grape juice Dhs36
Service (not included) Dhs15
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