Gourmet Meets Michelin Starred Chef Vineet Bhatia in Dubai
Ashiana (which translates 'Beautiful Home') feels like exactly that, ensconced on the 1st floor of the Sheraton Dubai Creek and Towers in the heart of Old Dubai. Vineet's personal welcome is full of traditional Indian hospitality, as he ushers us to the table with a smile to introduce us to his wife Rashima (co-owner of his Michelin starred 'Rasoi' restaurant, just off King's Road in fashionable Chelsea, London) who has us instantly floored with her charm and wit (you can only see her back in this pic, but she's lovely!)
It is the first time I have met the multi-award winning, Michelin-starred chef in person, having conducted most of our interviews through international phone calls. He is a little shorter than I imagined but humble, instantly likeable, warm and funny.
His especially constructed menu for food editors is quite a relief. There are no intimidating quirks, and this is not the place where you will find a mind-blowingly hot Vindaloo. "Too many chillies ruin the palate," he explains, as he presents us with an amuse bouche of prawn tikki with a tomato-roasted sesame chutney. It's perfectly balanced, well-seasoned and instantly makes me want to inform him that I have a much bigger bouche that needs amusing!
We begin with a starter of banana leaf baked cod, which arrives in a perfectly wrapped parcel, which, when opened, unveils a fillet of fish, smothered in a herb chutney. It is certainly a taste-bud tickler, combining a wide array of complex flavours which are mildly piquant, and a little sweet and sour.
The next course sees typical Indian street food of 'chaat' transformed into a beautifully plated fine-dining dish. A crispy vegetable samosa, dressed with yoghurt, crispy sev and sweet and tangy tamarind sauce, hits every flavour profile and instantly transports you to the roads near Juhu beach, Mumbai, where peddlers sell these snacks in abundance (minus the tummy-ache afterwards).
Achari chicken tikka follows – 'achar' means pickle in Hindi, explaining the marinade of this tender chunk of wonderfully tender white meat. Dressed in a creamy korma sauce, the contrasting textures of toasted almonds give this dish added depth. Sides of Goan cafreal rice (a seasoning typically used in Goan cuisine for the chicken itself) and a sundried tomato chutney, are a mix and match of East and West, making this a contemporary dish to be reckoned with.
After the filling chicken tikka, the next course is perhaps a tad too much; a gloriously rich lamb seekh kebab made with cheese, laid on top of a generous serving of dosa potatoes that hail from south India. A crisp filo parcel containing 'kheema mutter' (minced meat curry with peas) that many associate with being the ultimate comfort food, is served with a Rogan josh sauce. It's a more true to India dish, combining the flavours of different regions.
It's the sweetest of endings with this mix, which combines a typical cheesecake base with a heavily infused rose cream. The twist is in the 'gulab jamun', a famed Indian dessert of milk dumplings that are doused in syrup, nestled in between.
Our Verdict: A true fine dining experience of good Indian food and ambience
Rating: A solid 9/10
INFO: Lunch 12midday-3pm, Dinner 7pm-11pm daily, Sheraton Dubai Creek & Towers, 04 207 1733, firstname.lastname@example.org