What’s it like: Rang Mahal, which literally translates to Palace of Colours, is inspired by traditional North Indian architecture, and as such, boasts high ceilings, oversized pillars with traditional temple-style engravings, and a giant Rajasthani Madhubani painting across one wall. Don’t expect it to be too colourful though – the back-lit walls and candles give the entire space, made up of a spacious pre-dinner lounge area and the main restaurant, a moody, orange glow. The real fireworks are played out in the food here. Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar has successfully showcased the diversity of Indian cuisine – something that far too many Indian restaurants fail to do – in the clever, contemporary menu.
Our eyes bigger than our bellies, we opted to share the crunchy soft shell crab with apple and fennel salad and mint aioli, Bengali-style vegetable fritters with hand-pounded tomato chutney, and the charcoal-smoked chicken tikka with black pepper for starters. Each dish was tastier than the next, but if I had to pick a favourite, it would have to be the crab – a hint of mustard here, a dash of sweetness there, it was a delicate dance of flavours in the mouth. Continuing on our over-ordering streak, our main course featured a masterfully executed version of the classic chicken tikka masala; sesame tempered asparagus – a Western ingredient given a delicious Indian makeover; and the pièce de resistance, the lobster malai curry – a creative take on a traditional cream curry, in this case, a whole gratinated crustacean with a sweet-with-a-hint-of-coconut-and-mustard sauce served on the side.
Just when we thought we really couldn’t handle dessert, we managed to not just order, but do full justice to the platter of five types of kulfi, and the innovative chocolate delice with paan (betel nut leaf) flavoured ice cream – a genius combination. Perfectly balanced flavours, never once overpowered by an overkill of spiciness, and attentive yet unobtrusive service – a meal here will only leave you planning your next one. This is Indian food as it should be.
If you want to go: Around Dhs600 for three-course meal for two. Call 04-4143000.
Best for: Sampling a variety of Indian flavours
- Sudeshna Ghosh