Tantalising taste buds - Khaleej Times

Known for its aromatic dishes and mouth-watering flavours, Shahi Mahal restaurant offers an authentic taste that will remind you of home. Tucked away in Al Quoz, the restaurant opened only in November last year but has already become a household name.

Umar Farooq Tarar and Malik Iqbal Javed, proprietors of the restaurant say that they have received a great response since they started operations. "Our aim was to target desi customers but we also get a lot of local and Western diners," says Tarar. "The locals love our biryani, as well as our special dish, the Afghani pulao (available Tuesday and Thursday only). It is popular because it's not very spicy and is similar to mandi."

He highlights that they aim to appeal to even the most discerning foodies and have added special handis, both in chicken and mutton, to cater to a wide variety of tastes. The Shahi Mahal special handi's include Rajasthani, Kasturi, Hyderabadi and Madrasi handi's, giving an Indian twist to these staple Pakistani dishes. They also offer a less spicy variety such as Lebnani and Turkish Kabab Masala handi's, as well as Mexican and Italian cheese boti. Their barbeque items such as chicken tikka and boti, and mutton Peshawari are also quite popular. Every day they also have a special dish of the day, for example, on Wednesday's they serve the traditional dish kari pakora and on Friday's they offer aloo ghosht.

Tarar says, "The aim is to offer diners a taste they wouldn't find anywhere else. All these recipes have been cultivated in-house by our chefs. There are Indian recipes being cooked in a Pakistani restaurant, and as a matter of fact, we do get a lot of Indian customers and we want to offer them something authentic."

Their busiest periods are lunchtime, where they are fully packed, as they are centrally located and get people from Business Bay and Al Quoz. Breakfast is also a busy time for them as they offer traditional dishes such as Halwa Puri and Nihari, everyday. For dinner, home deliveries and takeaways are more popular.

In the evening, when people are going back home from offices, they often look for snack options and instead of offering the usual samosas and pakodas, the restaurant has created a whole new option. "We offer delicious sides such as aloo, qeema, chicken or cheese naan and this has been a big hit!" It's no surprise, as a bite into the fluffy naan reveals layers of lightly spiced potato and makes for the perfect appetiser that can be shared with friends.

The restaurant also has popular combo deals that start from Dh20 and includes BBQ items, rice or naan, salad, soft drink and dessert. The family combo for Dh62 is a feast and includes chicken kabab, chicken biryani, chicken peshawari or chicken boneless handi, four rotis, salad, dessert and soft drinks.

When asked about expansion plans, Tarar says, "We are planning to open up our second branch next year in maybe Karama or Al Barsha."

Javed concludes by saying, "Our aim is to provide the best quality food to all our customers at affordable prices. You will not find masalas in our recipes; you will find it to be just like home cooked food. Our mark of quality is that we use fresh mutton, not frozen and we buy our own vegetables and don't get it through vendors. Our main aim is to focus on customer service and quality of food. We won't compromise on it at any cost."

INFO: Al Faris Mall, Next to Dubai Bowling Centre, Al Quoz 1, 04 338 8332, www.shahimahel.com

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