Chutney's

The Mövenpick’s newest signature restaurant isn’t full of obvious Indian food connoisseurs – it’s packed with tracksuit-clad hotel guests and their families. To them, Chutneys is probably an afterthought, somewhere near their room that sells that glorious combination of curry and Kingfisher. It’s an odd clientele given the place’s stellar culinary credentials: the kitchen is run by brothers Hafeez and Hasib Qureshi, a surname that’s synonymous with high-end Indian dining. The pickles and, appropriately, the chutneys are all created in-house and the kitchen makes a point of using fresh – not frozen – produce. The place deserves an appreciative clientele, and it may have a better shot at getting it if the decor didn’t scream ‘afterthought’. Several clues reveal that the space was never conceived as a restaurant: for starters, it’s joined to the corridor, and the kitchen is tucked in a corner of the room. As a result, it’s difficult to imagine many customers travelling out of their way to try the food. It’s a pity, really, because the chefs are a talented bunch. When my date and I dined at Chutneys, our server, who was exceptionally polite and exceedingly knowledgeable – steered us towards to the kebabs and biryanis, which he cited as house specialities. We started with the gosht sikh kebab: delicate fingers of minced lamb that fell apart at the merest prodding of a fork thanks to a turn in the clay oven. Our order of vegetable biryani let out perfumed wafts that foretold of some intricate spicing (the full-flavoured grains were cooked under a pastry shell, hence were imbued with the characteristics of the vegetables around them). Lured by the promise of fresh fish, we split an order of mahi qaliya, a hammour dish basted in a creamy coconut broth that was both floral and earthy. Indian food (especially from the north) can veer towards the heavy, but each dish was so exquisite we managed to polish off everything. I even found room to sample a gloriously light dessert of gulab jamun, an airy milk dumpling mixed with pistachios and soaked in a refreshingly light sugar syrup. As well as the quality of the food and service, another thing that set Chutneys apart was its reasonable price. There were set menus that read like impossible feasts for Dhs160 per person, though the two of us managed to eat our fill for less than that. While the atmosphere may turn the hordes away, we hope a few city dwellers are willing to overlook the hotel lobby atmosphere for the chance to tuck into some genuinely excellent Indian fare. The bill (for two) 1x Large bottle Masafi water Dhs20 1x Gosht sikh kebab Dhs65 1x Mahi qaliya Dhs76 1x Vegetable biryani Dhs48 1x Naan Ds10 1x Gulab jamun Dhs34 Total (including 10 per cent service) Dhs253

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