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A platter of delights from De Thali.

Abu Dhabi: Going by the number of fancy Indian restaurants that have sprung up in Abu Dhabi lately, I had come to conclude that a delectable curry dinner has become an expensive affair.

But after dining at De Thali my judgment stands flawed. The cute and funky restaurant on the second floor of the Madinat Zayed shopping centre is a must check-out if you want to savour fabulous food without burning a hole in your pocket.

With the most expensive dish on the menu (lamb seekh kebab) costing just Dh29, and all other dishes in the main course ranging between Dh18 and Dh26, the restaurant offers fantastic value for money.

For instance, De Thali claims all their curries are made using clarified butter and are thus free from transfat.

Drawing comfort from their kitchen's healthy credentials, we settled down in one of the four family rooms and began to explore our 'thali gram' (measure of happiness as propagated by the restaurant).

From the kebab corner we had our all-time favourite tandoori chicken and malai chicken kebab. I will vote for tandoori chicken as it was well-marinated with a generous dose of spices and the chicken was deliciously juicy and crispy. Malai chicken marinated in cheese and cream is a great option if you like less-spicy kebabs.

For starters, Machhi Koliwada, a Mumbai-style batter fried fish fillet, was a disappointment because I am accustomed to more fiery varieties.

For the main course, we had Bhabi Murg (bonless chicken slow cooked in brown onion gravy) and Macchi Masala (Kashmiri style fish mla dish). The former was the star of the night with its distinct flavour of the brown onion gravy that was accentuated by the aroma of fresh ghee. You can have the creamy and spicy gravy with some soft fluffy breads or the vegetable pilaf on the side. Though Machhi Masala was outshone by Bhabi Murg, I will not hesitate to give it a four on a scale of five.

At the risk of over-ordering, we decided to try out one of the four thali options. Thali which means 'plate' is a combo meal that comes in vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. We ordered Bosis Thali that consisted of butter chicken, dal, two vegetable curries, roti, pilaf, pappad, onion, salad and dessert - all for Dh28. I would recommend it as a great order for a quick and value for money work lunch.

We finished off our meal with Zarda Kulfi Falooda and a sweet thali that came with an assortment of Indian sweets including gulab jamuns, rasgulla, carrot halwa and bhadusha. Falooda was up to the mark and we relished the creamy carrot halwa and bhadusha as well. But the paneer balls and the sugar syrup in rasgulla left an unpleasant taste of oil in the mouth. Gulab jamuns were also no great shakes when compared to the meltingly soft varieties available aplenty in town.

But all in all, De Thali was a fantastic experience which is made extremely pleasant by the impeccable service of their friendly staff.

The restaurant will do full justice to your palate as well as your stomach.


Meal for two: Dh80-Dh120

Location: Second floor, Madinat Zayed shopping mall

Timings: 11am to 11pm

Contact: 02 6278644

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Publication:XPRESS (United Arab Emirates)
Date:May 16, 2013
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