It’s been a challenging time for expats who crave delicacies from their hometown. Covid’s travel restrictions and other security risks have long kept people from traveling home. Now a resto-pub in the city wants to entice you with an appetizing offer and alleviate your travel blues: “If you can’t go home to India, we can certainly bring India to you.”
Indeed, given the raging pandemic that left us on the ground, we were drawn to the aptly titled Desi-Videsi (meaning local and foreign in Hindi) food festival at The Huddle Sports Bar & Grill at the Citymax Hotel in Bur Dubai.
Now we don’t always eat just because of the unusual offers that lure us to the table. Often our love of food, especially when we are not in our home countries, is driven by sheer nostalgia. How can you erase the delicious memories of staple foods from home – such as simple home cooking, street food or dishes from popular restaurants.
However, the chefs at Huddle spoiled us with a spread that reminded us of the street food from India, but with a fusion twist. The menu featured Indian favorites with international flavors. For example their Tundey Kebab Pizza. This famous, juicy kebab from Lucknow made from minced lamb was delicately mixed as a pizza topping and served on a base of crispy laccha paratha. Their Kakori Kebab Speedies, another Nawab-era dish from the former capital of the Awadh region, were filled in a mouth-melting Rumali Roti and seasoned with Kurkure Chaat. What about the innovative kitchen?
When we entered the dimly lit pub on a Monday evening, we were expecting a quiet midweek outing. However, we were pleasantly surprised to find the place pulsating on a routine work day. The square was divided into two sections. A seating area surrounds a large stage on which a live band plays (possibly on weekends). And the other area for guests who prefer a quiet ambience away from the noise. The decor is what you would expect in any resto-pub – a large counter serving mixes and tables evenly spaced, and the service staff has been busy delivering orders.
Since it was a muggy day, we preferred to start with thirst quenchers and move on to the festive menu without much delay. The first thing that came to our table was the Chicken Tikka Masala Pizza with a garlic naan base. A nice variation on the normal pizza, this dish was seasoned with a slightly spicy tikka and was a nice change of pace. Next came the Murgh Rogani Naan Quesadillas, which combined Indian, Spanish and Mexican flavors. The explosion of different flavors was amazing. It was spicy but tasty. The dabeli, a delicious vada pav-like preparation, was nice. The dish consisted of a filling of sweet and spicy potato mix and Sev Gathia (Gujarati crackers), which were placed between buttered pavs (Indian bread rolls) and grilled on a tawa (griddle). It was a joy to try this hugely popular snack, especially in Maharashtra state where it is very popular on long distance trains.
The other notable dish was Kheema Gotala Silder, another popular Mumbai concoction that combines spicy ground beef, boiled eggs, and a filling in a pav. Vegetarians can try the Pulled Paneer Baida Roti, a delicious preparation of paneer (cottage cheese) -filled tortilla that is flat-fried with Oman chips, or regulars like Dal Makhani and Palak Paneer.
The place also has a regular la carte menu of salads, curries, pub grub, kebabs, and some Chinese favorites.
If you value innovative cuisine, attentive service and Indian dishes with that certain something, a visit to the festival should be on the plan before the end of the month. However, the signature dishes will also be retained after the festival.
Most dishes cost between Dh33 and Dh52. The pizzas start at Dh42, and a meal for two should return you Dh150.