When Indian food is spoken about in our house, it’s normally in the context of a night in at home with a movie. Much more rarely is it out at a modern fine-dining Indian restaurant with friends which is exactly where I found myself a few nights ago to experience the renowned Junoon restaurant in the Shangri-La hotel.
Arriving from New York, where Junoon is a michelin starred hotspot, it was an inevitable restaurant opening in Dubai that plays host to so many of the worlds best. The name of the restaurant itself actually means passion and looking through these pictures reminded me just how much creativity and effort had gone into each and every dish. I’m generally not the family member pushing for a night of spicy curries and naan but this, my friends, is the type of Indian food I’d be very happy to carry the flag for.
The bar has just been renovated and along with it, (pinched from an Italian spot in Pier 7 called Atelier M), a talented barman named Max. The bar itself is cosy with a modern twist, equipped with brushed copper utensils I would love to deck my kitchen full of!
Before I even had the chance to ask for the cocktail menu, Max was already sorting through my taste preferences and mixing up a take on a pisco sour, sans the sugar. No name, unfortunately, as I would love to be able to recreate it, but it came served with dried mushrooms that are meant to be eaten with the cocktail. Divine, and wonderful start to an evening full of surprises and culinary delights!
Given I’m not as accustomed to the delicacies and innovations of modern Indian cuisine, we thought best to let the chef send what he thought best – a brilliant choice in hindsight!
The Eggplant Chaat of crispy eggplant, tamarind chutney and chaat masala set a high bar for what was to follow.
The ‘Murgh Tikka Mirza Hasnu’ which is chicken tikka on top of broccoli puree and broccoli heart salad was succulent and soft enough to set your heart on fire. I genuinely didn’t think chicken could melt in the mouth like it did here.
Although on appearance the fried pepper squid looks a little dry, the result is far from it; offering a warming peppery taste with curry leaf and fennel.
Nothing is done half heartedly – our very own steaming pineapple based cocktail!
Because one main course is never enough! The absolute crème de la crème of contemporary Indian cuisine…
The Shahi Lamb Shank with black cumin rose curry and saffron honey foam, and the Shrimp Malai Curry with coconut, onion and pommery mustard were highlights of a very consistent array of fine food. The perfect balance between creamy sauces that complement the main affair rather than detract from it. The chicken and lamb in particular were mouth-wateringly tender and the garlic naan was faultless.
An eclectic mix of heart-warming, well known Indian dishes that have been elevated to a far superior and delightfully delicious level.
The chef then came out to give us a dessert demonstration using liquid nitrogen, making the smoothest and creamiest cardamon ice-cream. Naturally, I had to get involved!
By far, the creamiest ice-cream I have tasted and that’s down to the process of making it with the liquid nitrogen. The chef explained when you freeze it over a long period of time to get the classic ice-creams we know and love in the supermarkets – some of it actually crystallises which is why it’s not 100% smooth. Doing this way doesn’t cause any crystallisation and the result is something quite special!
A masterpiece of “Chocolate Coconut”…
Junoon epitomises inventive and thoughtful cooking that is steeped with tradition and quality. Highly recommended for a flavoursome and enjoyable night out with friends.
Visit Junoon’s website here for my details or call them on +971 4 405 2717 to book.
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