All that glitters is gold at this latest restaurant by award-winning chef Sanjeev Kapoor
words: Derek A Issacs
Indian celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the aptly named Khazana Grain of Salt, whose menu is brimming with all manner of Indian and international goodness, but with an extra hit!
Khazana Grain of Salt is on the third floor of The Mall, WTC. and takes up rather a large space spread over three sections – the main dining area, the spacious terrace (which was on the verge of opening during my visit) and a smaller dining area with bar, serving up quirky-sounding mocktails – the Guarave Mary is a must!
There are also two private dining areas that are slightly raised that allow private diners to look out across the main restaurant.
When continents meet
Khazana means ‘a cache of treasure’ or treasure chest, which the restaurant’s interior design pays testament.
The busy restaurant – two tables of 29 were booked in – is tastefully decked out in hues of red and gold, and there’s ample room between tables, which is always a plus.
Another plus – and a huge one for me – is the actual tables are bigger than average, so much so, you won’t find waiters having to rearrange the many dishes to fit on the table, which is a refreshing change as well as perfect for the sharing dishes.
Despite the restaurant’s Indian origins, the ‘extra hit’, I mentioned earlier doesn’t necessarily refer to the spices, although they are abundantly clear in some dishes, but rather to the melding of Indian and international dishes, notably European in style.
Think Seafood Minestrone, filled with flavoursome Italian seafood and pasta broth, served with pesto and parmesan; Fajita Bowl of Chilli lime chicken, kidney beans and sautéed vegetables in cilantro dressing, Burrata Aur Anjeer consisting of Burrata cheese (an Italian cow milk cheese made from mozzarella and cream), dried figs, pomegranate seeds and assorted nuts, drizzled with pomegranate molasses; and the list goes on.
A melding of flavour
The Dal Pakwan chaat from the veg sharable menu promptly arrived, as did the Chicken Tikka Three Ways, which, quelle surprise, is chicken presented in three ways – with spiced lemongrass, parmesan-green chilli, smoked yellow chilli, tandoor cooked and served with coriander chutney, and pickled pearl onions.
The dal consisted of crisp pakwan puris, topped with stewed chana dal, finished with tamarind (a gorgeously sweet edible fruit) and coriander chutney.
The dishes were impeccably presented in nouvelle cuisine style, but I would say with much more substance, which continued throughout the evening.
Other dishes, to name but a few, on the sharable menu were Er Sangri Tacos – Methi roti tacos stuffed with tempered ker berries and sangri beans, topped with tomato and jalapeno chutney; Rajma lettuce Wraps – crisp lettuce cups stuffed with spiced kidney beans, topped with crème fraîche and dried apricots.
There are three distinct entrée menus – veg, meat, seasood and poulty.
I headed for the meat, ordering an old favourite, Rogan Josh, but this one came with Morrocan hints.
The Nalli Rogan Josh Tajine was, of course, the signature Indian lamb curry, but with vegetables and couscous stewed in a tajine.
Next was pie, or Uppukari Pot Pie, with a kick, the spice kind this time. The triangular parcel of puff pastry revealed Chettinad style Guntur chilli spiced lamb chunks and offal all baked in a Dutch oven. Like the Rogan Jish dish, the lamb melted in the mouth and the spices did their work .
The dessert list has international favourites – New York Cheesecake is there – and India die-hards, such as Gulab-E-Gulkand, the ultimate Indian sweetmeat.
I went for the Berry Phirini, an indian milk pudding fused with Italian Lime Granita (A Sicilian semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water and various flavours) Ginger Cookie Crumble – dreamy would be a gross understatement at best.
It would be easy for me to continue listing the fusion of dishes laid bare on the menu but instead, place Khazana Grain of Salt high on your list of restaurants to visit – oh, and please invite me!
NEED TO KNOW | Strike gold for breakfast, lunch and dinner | AED155 for two | The Mall, WTC, near Nova Cinema | Daily 9.30am-11.30pm | 02 677 7333,