Peppermill, serving up very good and affordable Indian cuisine - Bawabat Al Sharq Mall, Abu Dhabi

 As you approach Peppermill, the Indian restaurant at Bawabat Al Sharq Mall in Abu Dhabi, the brightly coloured chairs set against the white of a colonial style building facade, it should be fairly clear what you can expect - dishes from India's rich colonial period in a contemporary setting. This brightly lit restaurant breaks away from traditional heavy maroons that you would associate with Indian restaurants which tend to offer value for money. It is cheerful! Having been here for the restaurant's opening a little over  a year ago, I was curious to see how it was coming along. 

My daughter and I start off with some of the exciting mocktails they have added to their menu - we have the Pomegranate slush. Cool and refreshing and not overly sweet, it is the perfect foil for the 45-degree C weather outside. It too reminds me that I am in a restaurant that brings together India's past and marries it with modernity. 

To eat, I begin with the Prawn shorba,a seafood bisque featuring prawns. Expect a bit of sweetness which will come from the tomato and apple. It is also infused with the delicate prawn flavours while bits of prawns found in the bowl. But if that is not enough, prawns on a  skewer are at the centre of the bowl. Very nice textural play in this soup! 

My daughter meanwhile starts off with the Mulligatawny soup, or lentil soup as it is known to most. It is interesting that not many people know this is actually an Indian soup because it is so ubiquitous in the UAE, to the point that people assume it is a Middle Eastern soup. I steal a few spoonfuls and find it to be hearty. I The soup is mildly flavoured, making it a great for kids. My daughter, who loves rice, is thrilled that there is a rice cube of sorts in the centre of the soup, making this quite a filling dish. 

Next up we try the Aloo Tikki, a North Indian snack much alike a potato croquette. It is topped with coriander chutney, tamarind sauce and fresh pomegranate. I find it light and very tasty - expect sweet and sour to blend effortlessly. 

We then have another snack, the Anglo-Indian cutlet. This tear drop-shaped treat is basically a potato stuffed with minced chicken. Make sure to dip it in the accompanying garlic and tomato based sauce - nicely balanced indeed. 

Deep fried spinach - yum
 A visit to an Indian restaurant without having a kebab is like having masala chai without sugar - it is just not done! We have a tasting portion of kebabs and it is the Lamb seekh kebab and  Chicken lasuni tikka that stand out. The latter, especially, is so tender and I really like the garlic flavour.  Equally appealing to me is child-friendly nature of a lot of the dishes, and my daughter has another order of the chicken. 

The highlight is, appropriately our final dish - Tandoori Lobster. The thing about using the tandoor, be it for chicken, lamb, shrimp or in this case lobster, is timing. It is not like placing something on the grill where you can see how it is cooking. The tandoor is pretty much blind cooking because you can't really see the protein as you cook it. Therefore, timing is crucial. You need to have a feel for it. The lobster I have tonight is beautifully cooked. Rich in moisture and with that trademark tandoor flavour -  a winner. Also. coconut milk, curry leaves and mustard add their own flavour to the lobster. Finally, at 145AED, you will not find a whole lobster of this quality at any other Indian restaurant. Highly recommended. 

It is sacrileges not to have dessert, I know, but dinner turned out to be more substantial than I thought, so we forego the dessert. 

Followers of my blog will note how much I love Indian food. From your 5AED breakfast at the Lipton tea shops to high-end experiences that involve wine pairing, I simply enjoy Indian cuisine. I am still learning, but I love it. Peppermill, as I have mentioned on a previous occasion, fills a void in the market by giving guests a finer experience with waiters who are knowledgeable about their product, Chefs who have trained extensively and move around the country seeing what guests really enjoy- but all of this does not come at a high price. And that is the key. It is affordable.

I despise the plethora of fast food options at food courts in malls. Places like Peppermill with its family focus is the logical choice and alternative to food courts. Yes, you pay a little more but nowhere as much as you would at a 5-star hotel. It is about time that parents care more about the quality of experience they give their kids. Good quality India cuisine, matched service and affordable. 

The Essentials

Peppermill Colonial Indian Cuisine
Bawabat Al Sharq Mall, Abu Dhabi
(also at selected malls)
+971 2 5859581

Sample menu prices

Soup 24AED 
Aloo Tikki 24AED
Lahsuni Chicken 48AED
Butter chicken 45AED
Dal Makhani 30AED

Brandon Stoltenkamp
Disclaimer: I visited Peppermill courtesy of the restaurant.