You know, there’s a certain sense of pride you feel when you witness people from various cultures and countries relishing your cuisine. And, I got to experience that when I attended a pre-launch lunch hosted by Food-E-Mag (headed by Ishita Saha and Debbie Rogers) at the just opened Farzi Café Dubai. Farzi Café is part of India-based Massive Restaurants’ rapidly growing chain of restaurants, and it is the company’s maiden venture into Dubai. Zorawar Kalra – the son of the legendary Jiggs Kalra – heads the company, and it was a pleasure watching him at the restaurant interacting with his staff and guests alike – with attention to every single detail and tons of information about every dish and its inspiration.
Last Wednesday was the much awaited lunch, which I was really excited to attend. I remember having been part of the opening of Massive Restaurant’s launches in India – Made in Punjab and Masala Library – and the experiences were nothing short of extraordinary.
Farzi Cafe Dubai is located at Citywalk Phase 2 on Al Safa Street, tucked away in a quaint corner surrounded by greenery. The interiors are a rustic combination of gold and green – with wide windows letting light stream in from two sides. It also offers outdoor seating.
The menu is varied – a combination of modern Indian and Arabic dishes that have been reinvented like no other. It also has reinventing mocktails – called Farzi-tails. There is theatre in every dish – whether it is the serving bowl, the presentation (which is such an eye-catcher) or even way in which the dish has been prepared. Molecular gastronomy is used with restraint – only where it adds value to the dish. And, the chef’s flair for using spices and ingredients cleverly comes through in every dish. The drinks are equally inventive – they do not serve alcohol – but I guess they more than make up for the lack of it with super exciting combinations of flavours.
This post is bound to be long, since we tasted a variety of dishes – each outshining the other! The menu is quirky, fun, well-explained and designed. And most of the food is tapas style – small bites that burst with flavour. The menu also has a great combination of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes – almost 50:50 says Zorawar Kalra.
Mishti Doi: This was the Amuse Bouche – spheres of yoghurt created using reverse spherification and topped with strawberry jam and a hint of cumin was served in a beautiful bowl wafting out fumes of liquid nitrogen.
Hummus: If you thought that hummus was only restricted to chickpeas, sundried tomatoes, olives etc., think again – Farzi Cafe goes a step further. We sampled edamame hummus, tomato and cumin hummus (which I loved), pindi chole hummus (delicious), mint hummus, habanero hummus (super), and tomato salsa and regular hummus. This was served with a variety of popaddums.
Farzi Mezze: A modern, Indian version of mezze complete with three hummus varieties, chicken sausage in a grape vine leaf, peas falafel, beef sambousek, and a duck samosa. I simply loved the duck samosa – tender, sweet shreds of duck meat filled in a savoury pastry topped with a jaggery chutney. (not at all gamey like it usually is).
Chaat: We had two varieties of chaat – one was a basket of sorts with a pita puri filled with couscous, this was served with the best ever aloo chaat I have had – crispy on the outside, fluffy inside and spiced to perfection. And they had two really cute bottles of green spiced water and buttermilk.
The other chaat dish was Raj Kachori reinvented. Delicate puffed puris stuffed with yoghurt and and chutneys topped with tamarind chutney foam – the same flavour with half the calories, like Zorawar says!
Dynamite Prawns: Beautifully cooked caramel-coated prawns topped with a spiced kumquat foam.
Dal-Chawal Arancini: Have you ever heard of Arancini? It’s an Italian dish of deep-fried risotto. The masterminds at Farzi Café have reinvented this dish with our very own dal-chawal arancini. With a tomato salsa, green chutney, achar aioli and a mini papad roll. A complete comfort meal in one mouthful!
Tandoori Mushroom: The trio of mushrooms with a garlic walnut crumb and truffle is something I can go all the way back to have here. The people at Farzi Café go for all the senses. The aroma that wafted through as this dish came out was intoxicating!
Devilled Quail Eggs: Deep fried quail eggs (with a runny yolk, mind you) served on a spiced chicken mince with crisps on the side.
Deconstructed Shepherd’s Pie: This was such a good-looking dish – and delicious too. Tender, spiced cubes of Wagyu beef served with mashed potatoes, spiced potato chunks and beetroot chips
Khandvi Sorbet: Before we moved on to the mains, we were given a palate cleanser in the form of a Khandvi sorbet – all the flavours of khandvi complete with the mustard seeds adding texture and coated with tamarind chutney.
Mutton with Parota: This was pretty rustic – flaky parota served with a pepper mutton curry. This one was something I wasn’t very impressed with – the caramelised onion flavour in the mutton was too sweet for my palate.
Farzi Khao Suey: A mellow coconut gravy with the sweetness of pumpkin served with fluffy rice and some really interesting condiments – masala peanuts, toasted puffed rice and sev.
Shawarma Biryani: This was a biryani with the meat skewered up just like the meat for a shawarma. This was probably the least favourite of my dishes – to my palate, the garam mmasala was too strong.
Rasmalai Tres Leches: Oh this was a beauty – soft pillowy cottage cheese balls soaked in a creamy sweet sauce, topped with the best gajar halwa I’ve had till date topped with some pretty sugar work. Its amazing how Chef Ismail managed to balance the sweetness of all the ingredients together.
Warm Semolina Banana Cake and Kesar Pista Ice cream: You’d think that a semolina cake is heavy – but this was like a warm hug – soft, fluffy and moreish with the toffee sauce. Along with that, the beautifully quinelled icecream was delicious!
Warm Chocolate Fondant: No, you can’t end a meal without chocolate. This dessert – chocolate fondant filled with a deliciously savoury butterscotch sauce and icecream, topped with a chocolate disc that melts when the chocolate sauce is poured over it, was just perfect! And, the fresh berries were the ideal partner.
As a going away gift, the guys at Farzi Cafe gave each of us a chocolate embossed with our blog name and another customised chocolate gift saying ‘We serve memories, just not food’. And there couldn’t be a truer statement!
All in all, this was one of the best food experiences I have had in a long time. And if you are in Dubai or coming here, you must visit it!