The UAE is a truly multicultural country, a place where different nationalities meet, bond and share aspects of their culture with one another.
Indian expats are the most prevalent nationality on these shores, making up around 17 percent of the total population with around two million people.
So it’s no surprise that Indian cuisine is so popular here, and we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to finding authentic Indian food.
While we all have our favourite haunts, me included, we also love to uncover hidden gems.
So on a recent trip to Al Ain I sought out a new Indian restaurant to sink my teeth into and Coriander was at the top of my list.
The restaurant has a reputation as being one of the best in the Garden City, plus its success led to the opening of Biryani Pot and Tamba here in Abu Dhabi, so it’s fair to say I have high expectations even before I visit.
Located at Bawadi Mall, the restaurant offers private indoor and relaxed outdoor seating.
Taking a table outside in the courtyard, flanked by plants, and soaking up the sun, I take note of the relaxed vibe.
Served up street food style, the chicken wings and crispy fried prawns are a great start. The chicken is crisp on the outside and perfectly succulent in the middle, given a tangy boost by the tomato salsa and huge prawns, with their crunchy coating and sweet meat beneath soaking up the spicy piri piri sauce.
The tandoori mixed grill is a platter of meats cooked in the piping hot clay tandoor oven. The meat is all perfectly charred on the outside and moist in the middle, soaking up the vibrant flavours of garlic, chilli and ginger, with the stand out being the lamb chops that are expertly cooked.
The star of the tandoori dishes is the whole cooked sea bream, which bursts with flavours of turmeric, mustard seeds and chilli. The fish is a showstopper with crispy skin and wonderfully soft and flaky meat. This dish alone is worth the drive down the E22 for.
For the main – no, the mixed grill isn’t considered a main dish – I’m recommended the chicken tikka biryani and butter chicken, an Indian staple. The biryani is wonderfully aromatic, the fluffy rice benefitting from a hum of chilli, pop of black peppercorn, clove and cardamom, while the chicken is as soft and supple as you could desire. Fantastic.
Packed with a rich tomato taste, fiery ginger and creamy cashew paste, the butter chicken is immensely enjoyable, the curry equivalent of comfort food.
Bringing my meal to a close I enjoy elaichi rasmalai, sweet cottage cheese dumplings in reduced milk. The soft, moreish balls soak up the sweet milk and notes of saffron and with the added crunch of pistachios, the dish ends the meal on a high.
Stuffed and satisfied, it’s fair to say I enjoy every moment and mouthful and will be back again.
Need to know:
Location: Bawadi Mall, Meyzad Road, Al Ain
We say: Expertly crafted modern Indian cuisine
Cost: AED 280 for two people
Opening hours: Daily 11.30am-11.30pm
Contact: 03 784 0500, coriander.ae