I love Jumeirah 1, but often find eating out a bit 'samey'. There are some great independent malls there which do not have the sweaty hustle and bustle of the big players of the Dubai mall scene, but are sadly lacking in imaginative food options. After being stung at their many overpriced British and American coffee chains, I normally default to 2nd December St for bargain Lebanese grub if I plan to spend the day being a Jumeirah mall rat. Sure, the Mercato mall has one of the prettiest food courts in Dubai but severely lacking in mouthwatering veggie options, and the French-themed Cafe Gerard near Magrudy's has possibly the best coffee in the city but extremely bland herbivorous dishes. Casting my mind back to when I first arrived in Dubai, I remembered spotting a cosy-looking Indian in the Jumeira Plaza mall, the location of China Times. Welcome to Nawab, Jumeirah's underestimated hotspot for Vindaloo Kings and Queens.
Nawab is a happy medium between the more rustic Indian eateries that populate Dubai and the ridiculously pricey 'high end' curry houses. It is reminiscent of 1980s UK curry houses with carpeted floor, kitsch artwork and fixtures and fittings from a bygone era. Its USP for me though were the booths. Booths for extra privacy are my favourite feature that a lot of UK curry houses are now ripping out in favour of a generic wine-bar style refurb. Regular readers will know the Holy Grail of curry houses for me is Liverpool's UnI, unique in the fact that it has retained its 1970s essence including aforementioned booths. Nawab is similar in style, offering a mixture of tables in the main body of the restaurant and booths along the back window, perfect for having a private conversation over a business lunch. Eschewing starters for complimentary popadoms, these were served with this fresh pickle that (above), not dissimilar to UK style pickles. Mint, mango chutney and an extra spicy chilli and lime pickle were the perfect start to the meal. For main courses, I ordered a Bindi (okra) Bhaji with plain naan and pilau, and Carnivorous Colleague ordered that old British staple, Chicken Tikka Masala (below):
As you can see, my Okra and Potato dish was bursting with flavour- if only computer screens were lickable like Willy Wonka's famous wallpaper!
Heightened with chillies and cumin, the okra/bindi were bursting open, releasing their juicy insides onto the potatoes, mingling with the spices, a unique blend of flavours which created a real party in the mouth. The Naan was perfect for scooping up the mixture, allowing me to do it properly and shun my cutlery. Naans in Dubai are much easier to eat and to use as an eating utensil than in the UK. Back home, they are pillowy, stodgy and leave your fingers with a film of grease that lingers for hours. Nawab's Naan was a perfect consistency and had a lovely fresh-from-tandoor aroma to it! The pilau was in the same style as I mentioned in my previous review for Curry Box- colourful grains interspersed in white rice. Quelling the flames of the curry, the Mango Lassi was the perfect antidote. If you find hot curries hard to swallow, always put out the flames with a yogurt based drink- water is a false friend as it just reacts with the spices, causing heartburn. Lassi neutralises it- try it next time!
For those of you who find Jumeirah a bit of a trek to get to, Nawab also have an outlet in the food court of Mirdif City Centre, but for a more authentic ambience, the Jumeirah branch is definitely worth the taxi fare.