Saturday, 11 August 2007

Moti Mahal

I have the misfortune or fortune of having a highly developed palate and sense of smell. I say misfortune, because at times smells will overwhelm me and either give me a migraine, or make me nauseous. I can smell food that will go bad tomorrow, and that is a not at all pleasant.

Like many people, I associate smells with memories.
I can never smell baby Johnson products without being reminded of my children as babies. Whenever I smell vanilla it always reminds me of my best friend JIN, because the minute you enter the foyer, she has her Glade Vanilla candle burning and the area is redolent with sweet smell of vanilla.

AbuDhabi is currently undergoing some sort of transformation , which is an assault on my olfactory system. Too often the putrescence of sewage is hanging in the air. The high levels of humidity are not helping to disperse this odour, which just seem to be adhered to the air.

AbuDhabi also suffers from a dearth of good restaurants, especially one that specializes in sub continent cuisine.
A newish arrival on the subcon scene is MOTI MAHAL. Being Husband's birthday, and coming with a few recommendations, we decided to give it a try.

Though decorated quite nicely, the first thing that hit me as I ascended the steps was the smell of stale aggarbatti (Joss/incense) sticks. I love bakhoor and burn huge quantities of it at home. But there is something about incense sticks that totally puts me off. That and the underlying smell of floor disinfectant which immediately reminded me of a hospital.
Having seated ourselves, we were presented with the menu.
The only other people upstairs were a rowdy bunch of young people. I asked for alternative seating, as this kind of noise is acceptable in KFC/McDonalds or even a bar. I have two children with me, I don't see them screaming, but not in a place like this.
The abashed concierge said they were almost done and would leave soon.

Well, we had a look at the menu that seemed promising, with a huge variety and ordered our food. Not being very fond of rice, we skipped the Biryani and settled for 3 variety of kababs (Galoti,Barha, Murgh Reshmi ) and 3 types of bread (garlic naan, butter naan, roomali roti).
Along with my husband's favourite Daal Makhani and youghurt raita.

The food arrived in good time and was hot. The service was wonderful, but sadly the food was not. The Murgh Reshmi, chicken kababs was for the kids, and though the portion was rather small, they found it nice.
Unfortunately for us, the Galoti texture wise was a bit dry and chewy, and the mutton chops (Barha) had an underlying bitter taste. Good BBQ should be juicy, and the meat should melt in the mouth. Sadly neither effect was achieved.
The accompanying salad with the kabab a slice of tomato on a lettuce leaf, a wedge of lime, and finely sliced onions was not fresh or crisp. Onions that accompany kababs should be so finely sliced that they look translucent, yet manage to stay crunchy. This effect is achieved when upon slicing the onions need to be immersed in cold water.

If it was one of those places that served cabbage in place of lettuce and served up sliced onions the size of potato chips I would not be complaining. But this was not that place.
The Daal Makhani was not bad, but could have done with a more mellow flavour. Daal Makhani is one of those dishes which need to be cooked on a very low simmer if not overnight (preferably) then at least for a few hours. This had a strong overwhelming taste of an Indian spice known as HEENG, which has quite a pungent taste, and supposed to be digestive, but leaves me miserable. The naans were good, but they do not do a mixed naan basket, so each naan has to be individually ordered.

All in all, an above average priced place with mediocre food. Whether it was our selection of BBQ food which was their weak point, or that was their level, it did not encourage us to order any dessert.

The only plus point was we left still hungryish, and will not sleep stuffed.


  1. You wont see me there ever!! in fact u wont really see me in south asian restaurants anyway coz i rarely go there! i dont like the way most of them cook and hygienic reasons. Unfortunately, its easy to make bad or improperly cooked food seem tasteful by making it extra spicy and most of our south asian chefs are good at doing that! the dirty mofos don't give a shit bout cleanliness. Im not dissing our brothers and sisters, but u know what i mean! the list goes on and on. Mebbe someone should hammer it in their heads "cleanliness is next to Godliness". Home cooked food is the best! so whats for dinner? :D

  2. Do you find that your sense of smell varies throughout the month? Sometimes mine is so keen that I feel nauseous almost everything I smell, unless it's a nice smell, which usually it isn't.

  3. Well see Clayf I saved you money did I not. Its not a south indian restaurent actually. The interesting bit about Moti Mahal (est since 1959) is its first branch opened in pre partition Lahore. Owned by Punjabis and with their base in Delhi, they hv a branch in London too.
    I usually will ask where the CHEF is from because as you rightly point out South Indian chefs have a tendency to add their own indigent spices, and not "bhunofy" (fry spices till oil seperates)the curry. I did ask where the Chef was from and was told he is from Delhi, which I found odd because it didnt have that PUNJABi taste in it. Now I know Chefs are trained to cook generic food, but the "TASTE" in ones hand is something training cannot undo.
    The Manager then clarified that the Chef is originally from Hyderabad, but trained in Delhi. (SO! IWAS RIGHT!!)
    Dinner? Ajj ki pakaya hai? Well I may just do daal gosht tonight. So 7.30 tak pohanch jaana, as we eat early dinner.

  4. @ secretdubai
    Yes, I do. Infact some mornings (closer to my 'date') I can almost smell the bathroom sink, and cant bear to brush my teeth. I find myself gagging and a bit paranoid.(Am I pregnant?)
    Even the smell of meat will make me ill, and you are spot on about the smells being mostly not nice, esp during these times.
    But the worst is the ones that emanate from people which even a gallon of perfume cannot mask.

  5. you sould probably smoke more shisha, nothing can debilitate your smelling senses 'better' than 3 double apple rounds a day :P

    I am obviously joking..:)

  6. no shit... u have dinner at 7.30? thats way too early for me!!!

  7. its such an anti-climax when you go out for special occassions like birthdays & end up at a not-so-good place. birthday wishes to him, btw!

  8. When we lived in Abu Dhabi there was an odor specific to this time of year. If I recall it had something to do with fertilizing everything. Plus, the water they use for hosing down all the flowers is cleaned up sewer water. You don't want to get anywhere near that stuff.

    On the food side - we always ordered ArabAdupi (spelling?), whose kitchen was highly questionable, and our caretaker, from Madras, would have nothing, whatsoever, to do with the leftovers.

  9. At least you have semi good resteraunts to have food at. Here the food is patheric. Lost 5 kg and all my pants are loose now. losing 2 inches in 2 month is a little too much now isnt it?

    how i miss home cooked food. this oily greasy spicy shit is too much for me. If i eat another Nasi Goreng Ayam again i will puke my self to death.

  10. Now hear I say is an opportunity to use such olfactory talent to explore corners of your husbands body and let your senses take you where you haven't been before.

    With regards to the culinary experience being the high light of your husbands birthday......common what happened to your more adventurous side......

    Have you any tips for a food fuelled orgy?

  11. Lol @ Dubai Jazz!
    The only thing all that shisha does is give me lung butter, and all that coughing is not good for this ole lady!!

  12. Yes Sh*t ClayF.
    We dont eat lunch so by 6.30 we are ravenenous.
    So you gotta eat early @ my home except on weekends.
    @ Radha: You are so right, theres nothing worse than a GASTRONOMIC let down!! Esp with a eat till you drop mood.

  13. Hello vagabondblogger.
    I dont know, lately AD has been becoming a bit "pongy". Me thinks its all this sewage work in progress. They have dug up, and installed these huge green pipes all over our area. What is going on is anybody's guess.
    Aah! You speak of ARAB UDIPI.
    I hear you on the CLEANLINESS issue hon. But sometimes I feel even the food of the street vendor of BKK was/is more hygienic than some of the places here.
    How have you been ?

  14. @ karachidude
    U poor thing. Whats with the NASI GORENG overdose?
    5 kg and loose pants!Bechaara.
    As for the 2 inches, it is bad for you, but would make me ecstatic.
    What is it they say : One man's poison is another man's meat.
    Or as my Husband would say : One man's SH*T is another man's gold.

  15. @anonymous
    Your comment is so wickedly delightful that I would love to know you are. But as that is not to be.
    If I gave up my dodgy side on the BLOG, I know quite a few people who would faint from the shock.
    Yes, I can recommend a few things, but I keep my hedonistic side under observation.
    LMAO!!! Thanks for the comments tho. They were much appreciated.

  16. @ kaya.

    Malaysia. That what it is, Every thing is bloody spicy. People are assholeish. And unforunately no public transportation that they advertise so much is anywhere near my University.

    The only plus pont is thet the women are decent looking(Chinese).

    The tamil womensorry to say have more hair on their feet than they do on their heads.

    Nasi Goreng Ayam = Chicken Fried Rice.

    tasty at first but god damn boring if you are forced to eat it very god damn day.

    I could go on but who give a &%*#.

    Enjoy those greasy butter nans and dal makhni and all of that cuz take it from me, you have no idea how good you have it.

  17. Awww Karachidude.
    Did not know you were going to Uni In Malaysia. We were there last year, but I guess when you are there on vacation its different.
    Nevertheless I found the chinese RUDE and the Tamil women hideous and smelly.
    LMAO @ the hairy tamil women. But its so true. And little India? Good Lord! Thats like Chennai reincarnated.Hated that place.
    BUt we hung out at KLCC, and the food courst there is lovely.
    I guess Nasi Goreng Ayam is not fun everyday, but I could hv TOM YAM everyday. I just love Thai food,tho DESI food costs a bomb out there.
    However DESI food is Malaysia was WAAAAY too "Southern" for me.

  18. Aha well chinese women and chinese girls are very different ;)

  19. come on let's see your dodgy side :) !!!!......we know you're in there somewhere.....

  20. So many big words!!!!!!!!

    Hi hon, thanks for the compliment on my nice smelly stuff :-)

    Cya tomorra for a mega coffee! Hopefully by that time you will have stopped drooling over the comment anon made.........ahem!

  21. LOL @ Jin/Anon and cockatoo!
    You GUYS are just tooooo much. I can"t let it out you see. My poor husband would have a FREAK OUT, and I may not wanna go back.
    Besides I cant remember where I kept the whip or the handcuffs.

  22. There is so much we could do with peanut butter, and honey, and some chocolate syrup.
    Would you like a recipe?