Indian cuisine at Ushna - Souk at Qaryat Al Berri, Abu Dhabi (next to Shangri-la)
My culinary journey starts with the Yahkni Shorba, a broth from the Kashmir region. Originating in the northern part of India where the weather is cooler, this is a hearty soup. Mutton breaks easily off the bone, while saffron and ginger make their way onto my palate. Flavoursome.
While the Thakali Saar was certainly high-end in its presentation and theatre, the next dish is an attempt to to evoke the streets of Mumbai. I am served the Brun Maska, a trio of casual eats commonly sold in Mumbai where it is wrapped in newspaper. Chef transports his guests to Mumbai by keeping the newspaper motif but cleverly placing it between folded butter paper; the latter is commonly found in very inexpensive Indian restaurants in lieu of napkins. Not only does Chef evoke Mumbai, but he connects me to my Friday morning ritual here in Abu Dhabi where I have my 6 AED breakfast. Marvellous, showing the connection between food and memories.
At this stage of my journey I switch to a Prosecco, rather fitting if you consider the location with all its elements of romance. I am impressed by the wine list which still confounds me due to the stereotype I used to have of Indian food only being served with water and juices. I am also impressed that as policy, all by-the- glass wines are poured table side - it is a pet hate of mine when my wine is brought to the table, already poured. So, a simple but important gesture.
In anticipation of my main dishes, I order a glass of Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, a full bodied Californian red. My server is at the top of his game. He has not missed a beat all night. Incredibly knowledgable with a zest for tasting food, I have come across a waiter who makes me want to try the dishes he talks about. I am astonished to learn he has been with Ushna for only 3 months.
|My main dishes|
My journey ends with dessert of course, but that is almost an afterthought, because even as I write this, my thoughts centre primarily on those spices and the variations of tastes based on the different regions. Ushna, under inspired guidance from Chef Sandeep, has taken me on a journey that not only crossed regional lines, but class boundaries too, giving me a taste of dishes from palaces to street vendors. A memorable journey indeed!
The low down
The Souk at Qaryat Al Beri,
Starters 49-135 Dhs
Mains 55-170 Dhs