Sunday, 27 November 2011

Empire Bangalore, Al Qusais, Dubai

The Indians whose USP is blue lemonade!

I was beginning to grow tired of my usual eateries; a bad sign, considering I'd only been in Dubai 10 minutes. I had even gone across to the dark side briefly and ate at a few chain restaurants! To be honest, I think I was suffering from cabin fever as I'd been stuck in a hotel in Al Qusais; a very nice hotel I must add, but a bit far from central Dubai. Hotel food begins to taste samey after a while, and my beloved airport free zone was closed as it was a bank holiday weekend. However, Al Qusais is a hidden gem on Dubai's culinary spectrum, and once you look further than the scruffy buildings and dusty roads, you can find exquisite restaurants for all tastebuds. Enter Empire, the Indian restaurant that took my breath away.

Empire is a bustling hive of activity, reminiscent of the eateries on Manchester's Curry Mile. Although it is marketed as a non-vegetarian restaurant, there are more than enough spicy treats for us veggies. Upon entering the restaurant, the first thing to catch my eye was the massive display of fruit and ice-cream in a rainbow of colours, not just boring vanilla here then! The smell of piquant spices and freshly baked naan filled my lungs as I prepared myself for an Indian feast of Mancunian proportions.

I began my feast with a vegetable dosa. Dosas are quite hard to find back home, so for those unfamiliar with them, they are delectable breads the size of a pitta, the consistency halfway between chapati and naan. These dosas came with a chickpea curry and a vegetable curry to be poured on the top. Dosas are messy fun to eat- shove the curry on top and wrap it up like a kebab! Cut it up and eat it like a pizza! The choice is yours, enjoy! After that, I scoured the menu for vindaloo but it was nowhere to be seen, so I settled for the next best thing, Aloo Gobi with pilau and naan. The Aloo Gobi was different to the one back home, it had a creamy consistency which I normally wouldn't entertain (regular readers will know my opinion on korma!) but as it was packed to the brim with massive potatoes and huge blooms of cauliflower, this gave it some oomph. It was unbelievably cheap too, with some curries only costing 10 dirham- bargain!

The drinks menu was a lengthy, fruity read to rival Al Mallah but this time, I went back to basics with lemonade, or so I thought. This was no ordinary 7up, this was home made Blue Lemonade! Despite my curiosity, I neve asked how they achieved such a brilliant shad of blue, but I suspect sherbet had some involvement. The lemonade had a sweet underlying taste of sherbet, reminiscent of Love Hearts and Parma Violets, beautifully harmonising with the acidic lemon to make a memorable cocktail.

I was too full to even contemplate dessert, but I know I'll return, ready to majestic a multiflvoured banana split from Empire's fine window display. Thanks to Empire, I am no longer homesick for English curry, this is the real thing.

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Hi Vindaloo Kings and Queens!