Review: Indya by Vineet

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Indian food from a multi-awarding-winning chef. Indya by Vineet must be good, right?

The name Vineet Bhatia needs little introduction, but indulge us for the next 50 words. Having opened in excess of 25 – highly celebrated, multi-award-winning – restaurants across three continents, he’s one of the world’s most decorated culinary legends, famous for bringing the cuisine of the subcontinent bang up to date, with spectacularly successful results.

Now the Indian native has opened his second restaurant in Dubai (his first is the What’s On Award-winning Indigo at Grosvenor House Hotel) – Indya by Vineet at Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa.

The colour–splashed dining area is balanced by the rattan chairs and stone-bricked walls, with The Omnipresent Ganesha, the deity icon from Vineet’s birth town of Mumbai, serving as a glorious focal point for the main dining room.

The eclectic menu comprises more than 70 unique dishes designed for sharing, with many serving as nods to Vineet’s past. For example, there’s Daulat Aunty’s Mutton Dhansak, Aunty Braganza’s prawn stew and Monty’s egg fried rice. The menu itself is divided into seven concise categories, each with their own very competitive price bracket: From the
chaat trolley (all Dhs55); From the earth (veggie; Dhs55 each); From the land (meat; Dhs65 each), From the sea (fish; Dhs75 each), plus rice, breads and raitas. So far, so great.

We start at the chaat trolley with some puri and dahi chaat, the delicate pastry cups filled with chickpea curry, chaat masala, chopped raw onions and other delicious spices. Indya’s versions are wonderfully colourful with purple and charcoal puffs. These have to go in your month all in one, regardless of whether that’s your thing or not. It’s a whoosh of crunch, chilli and sweetness.

From the list of small plates comes a delightful tandoori cauliflower roast, lathered in tahini sauce – a surprise hit at the table. Who knew a once-bland root veg could be so flavourful?

Bigger dishes are just as playful. A Jenga-style tower of lightly battered paneer koliwada tastes sweetly traditional and Indian despite looking anything but, while the Southern Indian buttermilk fried chicken – wonderfully labelled as KFC (Keralan Fried Chicken) – demands to be taken seriously. Here come crispy coated bits of bird, served with a tangy sweet sauce.

The playfulness extends to the innovative cocktails list – one arrives with a chai-flavoured iced lolly, while another actually infuses oud into the mix. It’s all very merry, innovative, and, above all, incredibly delicious fare – but with Vineet at the helm, should we really be surprised?

Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa, Dubai Marina, daily 7pm to 11.30pm. Tel: (04) 3165550. indya-dubai.com

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