Amala: Purely Wholesome
VeggieBuzz has been on a quest to find the best Indian restaurants in Dubai, and it’s been an interesting journey so far. We’ve tasted food that tasted almost homemade and dishes that redefine the concept of Indian cuisine. Our latest contender is Amala at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, and we’re eager to see how well it measures up.
Sitting on the West Crescent of Palm Jumeirah, the Zabeel Saray resort is all about grandeur. Inspired by the architecture of Ottoman era palaces, the resort’s cavernous hallways and lush décor create a comforting refuge from the summer heat. This theme is echoed in Amala, which has a spacious dining room that evokes an Indian courtyard. Columns around the center of the dining room and a fountain set into the center add to this aesthetic. The outdoor seating area has a more casual feel to it and provides a nice view of the beach and resort grounds, but we prefer to sit inside given the heat.
We start off with Chokhi ki Tikki, spiced potato cakes, and Sounfiya Paneer Tikka, grilled slices of cottage cheese flavored with fennel. The potato tikkis release a deep, complex flavor and the paneer has a slightly tangy taste, boosted by the licorice-like fennel. It’s a delicious duo of appetizers.
The next course consists of Bhindi Do Pyaza, Achari Baingan and Dal Amala, which is a signature dish. The black dal has a nice robust flavor, helping it stand out from the usual dal that’s served at other Indian restaurants. While it’s a bit thinner and less creamy than the typical black dal, there is some tanginess from tomatoes as well as notes of spice scattered through it.
Coming across another okra dish is exciting for me as I’m quite fond of it, and this one proves to be a winner. The flavor of the okra is quite subtle, letting sautéed onions lead the way, but the okra ultimately ties everything together and adds some nice texture to the dish. The last dish proves to be a bit bland for my liking, which is surprising. Achari refers to the Indian style of pickle, which usually has a strong, overpowering flavor. The description on the menu also mentions mustard oil, cumin and coriander, all of which are loaded with taste, thus it’s strange for the actual dish to taste so mild.
As always, there is an accompaniment of breads and rice. The bread selection at Amala is quite standard; no truffles or fancy cheeses here. Along with that, we have a Vegetable Biryani, which tastes nice but doesn’t seem too different from the average biryani at first. We discover, however, that it’s loaded with more than we thought, with the likes of mushrooms and baby marrows, both of which I’ve never encountered in a biryani before. It adds some more dimensions of flavor and texture, and is very tasty with the raita served alongside it.
Unlike some of the other Indian restaurants I’ve been to recently, Amala doesn’t get too experimental with its desserts. There is the usual assortment of kulfi and gulab juman, but we’re drawn to the Anar Aur Amra Ka Shrikhand, a mango yogurt mousse with pomegranate seeds and small cubes of fresh mango. It’s creamy without being too rich, and the mango and pomegranate give it just a hint of tartness and a nice fresh flavor. We also order Shahi Tukda,an Indian bread and milk pudding that’s a personal favorite of mine, but one I don’t see on menus very often. This one does not disappoint, with a wonderful custard-like texture and a rich flavor that’s not too sweet.
Amala is a bit of a trip to make, given its location on the furthest end of Palm Jumeirah, but for a special occasion or just a relaxing weekend getaway, it’s worth the journey to enjoy some purely wholesome, flavorful Indian food.
Veggie Friendly: ✔ Vegan Friendly: X
Pros: Amazing atmosphere, great food, lovely view
Price: $$$ (200 - 500 AED)
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