Some days, food serves as the backdrop to a catch up – you want to meet the friends and conversation is the focus. What you nibble along the way is not really a priority. But then there are other days, where the whole purpose of the adventure, is the food. Molecular gastronomy infused into Indian cuisine warranted our attention, our complete appetite. A trip to Tresind, modernist Indian fine dining at Nassima Royal hotel was in order, we’d heard one too many positive reviews far too long. But it had to be experienced with my A-team – an eclectic set of tastebuds and preferences and my favorite partners for culinary exploring would mean we could really put it to the test. One fine friday morning, that’s exactly what we did.
Elegant, understated interiors welcomed us. While we got comfortable, our complimentary starters arrived. In went the spoonful of deconstructed pani puri and pop goes my heart! What a delightful start – slurp, savor, crunch! Equally interesting was the miniature zaatar-spiked pav’s served with hummus. The staff was extremely helpful in guiding us with the menu, explaining the vision behind the dishes and making recommendations.
What an item song is to a Bollywood movie – the modernist chaat trolley is to Tresind. Inviting, eye-catching and a whole lot of oomph. The whole process of assembly, of freezing the Dhokla (chickpea flour cake) in liquid nitrogen, a mix of spinach crisps and crumbed paapdi (crisp flour discs) with all the familiar spicy,sweet, crunchy & tangy flavors you’d associate with this popular street snack but with fine-art like finesse. And quite like an item song, you know it isn’t the reason you are there, but you have to admit, its probably your favorite part. To complete the streetsy vibe, sip on the kaala-khatta mocktail, reminiscent of ice-golas from street stalls.
What Tresind sets out do and achieves commendably is a new take on presentation, flavour and textures of classic Indian favourites. Great example of this is the use of the robust peanut salan sauce made with peanuts, sesame seeds, dry coconut and tamarind paired with the simply seared scallops and charred chilli peppers. The play of textures is brilliant and it is easily my favorite dish from the menu.
For my pro-veggie Punjaban friend A, we ordered the dahi (yogurt) kebab – only here they arrived like bombs of hung yogurt (with an almost crumbled-paneer like texture) spiced and covered with crispy potato shells and deep fried. There’s a beautiful hot-and-cold contrast when you cut through the exterior, one that was pleasantly surprising.
A dose of local-with a touch of desi are the Chicken Shawarma parcels served with a coriander-mint chutney and a garden-like salad of cucumber and pickled radishes. The khaboos is replaced by a tandoor roti with a touch of ghee (Indian clarified butter) giving you a silky soft bite. While you wait for the mains, you can cleanse your palate with the khandvi sorbet – which considering it has no gram flour yet manages to have every bit of the authentic flavor is no mean feat to achieve!
Both S(my BFF) and I love Bengali-flavors so we couldn’t resist getting a taste of their Shorshe Bata Maach. Only here, rice serves as the base for a crispy-potato crusted Fish surrounded by a sea of the creamy mustard curry. The sharpness of the mustard is the perfect antidote to the flaky white fish and gets extra points in my books for the elegant presentation.
Accompanied by a side of Dal Makhani ( one of the better creamy lentil curries in Dubai for sure) and an assorted bread basked arrived our Butter Chicken – the portions are generous and the curry strikes a balance between being creamy and tangy. The chicken coated in tandoor spices and grilled is then pulled apart (instead of being served chunky) and the curry poured over instead of being cooked together.
Now sides can only be so glamorous – but I highly recommend you get the truffle mushroom kulcha. I mean seriously, do not leave the premises without the indulgent mouthful that truly exemplifies the east-meets-west flavors. It is an almost-appetizer like portion and deserves far more attention on the menu. The thin-crepe-like kulcha cuddles the generous portion of mixed mushrooms and truffle oil gently – a unanimous hit on our table!
All conversation came to a stand-still as we watched the chef assemble our Doda barfi (India’s answer to the milk fudge) deconstructed black forest cake complete with snow-ed up cream, generous lashes of chocolate and caramel. And almost child-like we scooped up sloppy spoonfuls of it – sinful, melty deliciousness that manages to stay true to the original flavors. The liquid-nitrogen-dipped-rose crushed over our Aamras (mango pudding) and we almost cheered the chef on. You’ve got to give credit to the chefs for following the concept through – with equals parts attention to detail and cheery demeanor interacting with the eager eaters.
Our final bite was the Paan-flavored candy floss that we devoured in awe – at both its presentation and surprisingly subtle flavor. Tresind is a blockbuster in every way – it delights you with its colors, the drama and packs a great punch in the climax (dessert). And like Bollywood, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea or you might not love every scene, but you are guaranteed to walk away having had a great time. Paisa vasool (the ultimate Indian idea of good value)!
Location: Tresind, Level 2, Nassima Royal Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road, Trade Centre Area, Dubai