There’s nothing quite like the street food of cities like Delhi and Mumbai. Few things compare to the taste of fragrant potato snacks like Aloo tikki, served hot, straight from the griddle in a paper napkin. It’s difficult to imagine that the same simple, honest food could be as good, much less improved, by the fuss of modern cooking techniques, but Zaffran Dining Experience proves it can be done.
Food here is as unexpected as it is authentic, with the flavours of road-side food brought to life by experimental techniques that wouldn’t be out of place in a chemistry lab. Half the fun is the intriguing menu. Almost comically confusing names give away little about the dishes they describe, such as the unexplained bone NO bone or Chaat Nucleus Inland Astronomy. From the deconstructed pani puri – an Indian take on Ferran Adria’s liquid olive – to liquid nitrogen-frozen custard creams as palate cleansers, dishes are polished but playful.
The Scientific Smouldering Chaat is one of the most dramatic. Aloo tikki potato cakes are layered with crispy puri, drizzled with mint coriander chutney and sweet tamarind chutney, and sprinkled with sweet pomegranate seeds. It’s a mild dish, with a balance of light spices including cumin, nutmeg, black pepper and garlic powder, and it’s smoked with apple wood chips before being ceremoniously brought to the table on a glass cake platter.
It may not be totally traditional, but Chef Somnath has managed to perfectly encapsulate the colours and flavours of India beneath a smoke-filled dome. And you won’t find that on a street corner.
QR50. Open Sat-Fri 11am-3pm, 7pm-midnight. Zaffran Dining Experience, Al Emadi Financial Square (4447 7747).