There’s a wave of Indian nouvelle cuisine hitting Dubai’s shores, and we like it.
Quirky, imaginative and different, these places take a strong lead from thousands of years of Indian cuisine, with an eye on the future.
We arrive on a packed Sunday lunchtime, and there’s a mix of locals, ex-pats and tourists, with a gaggle of people expectantly waiting for a table.
High ceilings, lots of wood and funky décor make for a relaxed, comfortable dining space. Service is fast, effective and friendly. Our waiter pushes our senses and our stomachs to the limit.
As well as creative plating, one of the tricks here is a touch of molecular gastronomy. When it’s busy – and it most often is – you unfortunately get to see the magic before it arrives at your table, with many people ordering the same dishes.
This is food for the Instagram era, but it also tastes fantastic.
We are greeted with spherified mango and yoghurt shots, above, a cooling amuse bouche on a warm day, and an immediate launch into the molecular messing the chefs here adore.
The menu features a lot of fusion dishes – this isn’t for traditionalists – and we’re excited to see Indian cuisine taking its rightful place as a hero of global cuisine. Dishes mix Indian tastes with Italian and Mexican styles, and we opt for dal chawal arancini as a first course.
Basically composed of rice, lentils and pickle, these crunchy balls pack a punch and make for a delightful start. Topped with traditional coriander paste and a papad tube, and lying atop a rich tomato sauce, it’s an attractive dish, and enough in itself for a hearty snack.
Raj kachori, below, is exotic and tantalising. A crispy fried pocket filled with pumpkin chutney, sweetened yoghurt and mint sauce, this is a chaat worth chatting about. They are served with a side of dried okra, sev and pomegranate jewels, and topped with a molecular gastronomy touch – tamarind foam.
By now, we are thirsty, and take advantage of the exotic mocktails only a fool would pass up. A curry leaf martini is smokey and fresh, while my drink, the bootlegger, served in a smoking glass boot, packs refreshing pomegranate with cucumber and lemongrass.
“Tandoori wild mushrooms, with walnut and garlic crumbs in a truffle haze” is straight out of a molecular gastronome’s handbook, and provides an enticing fungi flavour. Exotic griddled mushrooms, including shiitake and enoki, are mixed with a garlic cream and tomato. It’s earthy, pungent and peppery, and quite unlike anything we’ve ever eaten elsewhere. The dish arrives steaming with a truffle-infused cloud, and heads turn as it arrives. A real stand-out course.
Pita golgappas (pani puri) is a nod to Arabia, filled with couscous and hummous, and served with cumin and labneh pani. Tasty, unusual and again, filling.
Tandoori chilli cheese kulcha, above, is Farzi’s wink to pizza – but these babies were way too spicy for me.
Chermoula paneer tikka looked beautiful on the plate, fusing Indian, Moroccan and Italian flavours. This triptych of taste could confuse the palette, but we think it works. The paneer takes to the chermoula, while the Italian San Marzano tomato sauce is rich, creamy and smooth.
To complete what became quite the banquet, Chef insisted we try two desserts – the ras malai tres leches and a classic gulab jamun.
And he was right. The giant plate of ras malai was a site to behold, a pool of creamy saffron and pistachio milk surrounding an island of melt-in-the-mouth spongey chenna, topped with a dramatic spun sugar sculpture.
Gulab jamun, with rose and rabri, was a fitting end to this Farzi feast, served with a liquid nitrogen flourish for the final curtain.
This is extraordinary dining at ordinary prices. Go for a feast, like we did, and you’ll create indelible memories. Save Farzi for a birthday, an anniversary, a special occasion. Or maybe a quiet Tuesday when you simply feel like celebrating being alive. Farzi Cafe will remind you just how good life is.