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A la carte buffet at Amala.

Dubai: There is plenty going on at the signature Indian restaurant, Amala, in the opulent Jumeirah Zabeel Saray. Popular for its mughlai curries, tandoori specialities and biryanis, the restaurant has plenty on its platter.

As I sit down, an interesting menu card arrives and I discover a brand new dining concept - an a la carte buffet. It is priced at Dh285 per person and diners can order a range of starters, bread, main course curries, rice-based dishes, desserts - any number of times - for the same price.

"The reason we offer this type of a la carte buffet is because we want people to try different dishes. We have seen that people usually order only their favourite dishes whenever they dine at a restaurant. Our concept will beat this trend as it encourages people to taste different dishes on the menu card," says Aman Manoj Kumar, Chef De Cuisine.

"The quantity served is not the regular size but enough to sample and taste. Plus, there are no restrictions on how many times somebody can order the same dish," he explains.

With such an appetising welcome words, I am already excited thinking about the fare ahead.

Starters fest

We begin with an interesting mix of starters - samosas, aloo papdi cht (traditional Indian snacks), kur kuri bhindi (a crispy ladies finger made from gram flour and chat masala), murgh kathi roll (a roomali roti wrap of chicken, mushroom, onion and pickled mango chutney) and some 'homemade kusmakar' salad of sprouts, cucumber, roasted cumin, chat masala, tomato and lemon.

But before all this, I go for the complimentary rasam, a South Indian soup. It's delicious and I feel like I am transported back home. The kur kuri bhindi is a great starter and difficult to put down with just a bite.

With starters done, we move on to the main course. We are talking curries here. Paneer makhni (made from cottage cheese, tomato and cashew nut gravy), bharwan karela (a bitter gourd dish), dal amala (a black lentil dl), and a basket of bread arrive.

I am a big fan of bitter gourd and familiar with several way how it can be prepared, but this one's a revelation. While there is a slight bitterness, the spices, mango and cumin powder all combine to give the dish a distinct flavour, making it unputdownable after the first mouthful. It feels great to discover a new taste from ingredients that are already so familiar.

And even as the flavour and aroma of the dish linger, a set of exotic desserts arrives.

In plain words, it's a platter of varied offerings - sabu dana ki kheer, kulfi and jamun with raspberry sauce. The kheer, made from sago, reduced milk, pineapple and mint sorbet is a unique dessert. Although the kheer itself has a reduced sweetness, the sorbet on the other hand brings oodles of it to the dish.

The real winner for me however is the kulfi - much like a pistachio and cardamom ice-cream. And for me that is a sweet and happy ending to great mughlai meal.


Cost: Dh285

Location: Zabeel Saray, Palm Jumeirah

Timings: 6pm to 1am (Saturday to Friday)

Contact: 04-453 0444

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Publication:XPRESS (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Mar 21, 2013
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