When it comes to Indian recipes, most people would immediately expect portion-heavy, spice-filled servings. Although tangy flavors are what make conventional dishes inspired by the Indian culture memorable, Asha’s is seeking to redefine the idea of lasting impressions.
Since joining the market roughly 13 years ago, the restaurant, which is successfully active in Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Qatar, Bahrain, and Birmingham, has always functioned with a goal of fusing traditional concepts with modern-day, upscale practices. For example, chefs attend festivals year-round to obtain a personal account of the Indian region’s latest creations; then, menu items are customized and modified accordingly to accommodate the locals throughout its designated areas.
To satisfy ever-changing preferences, the restaurant has launched a new, quarterly menu that offers a mixture of “Lighter Surprises”, just in time for Summer. We were actually welcomed for a tasting, just one day after the menu’s premiere. It includes six offerings, and each of them were served and savored within a two-hour timeframe. Before the official kick-off though, we sampled an appetizer of papaya, mint, and a mango/carrot/lemon pickle blend, individually sorted for dipping and dressing bread or chips to awaken our senses.
The first light entrée was the Patrani Machi: a marinade of coriander, coconut and garlic atop pan-grilled hammour, neatly wrapped inside a banana leaf. After uncovering the hidden element, a sliced lemon was squeezed over the fish to add more of a zesty flavor. It was paired with a garden fresh salad, which included a thin cucumber piece circled around a pile of tempered carrots, decorated with modest drops of lemon vinaigrette. A miniature shot of chicken, ginger and coconut broth was also supplied to even out the taste.
The Shami Tikki was next; Asha’s creative version of half-sandwiched sliders with soft and tender minced lamb arranged between pao bread and onion fritters. A mash-up of brown onions and flavored mushrooms were ground into the lamb with a brew of Indian spices to result in a mild, yet potent after-taste. Chilled watermelon, honeydew melon and pomelo, sweetened with honey and ginger, was served in a tall glass, along with a mushroom cappuccino on the side to ensure a flavorful balance.
An early favorite for customers who visited on debut day is the Tandoori Tarkari – a seemingly unusual, but innovative concoction of grilled fruits and vegetables, including pineapples, pears, bell peppers and cottage cheese. The final touch of spiced honey glaze gave this particular recipe its exclusive appeal, as it was accompanied by a bowl of puffed rice tossed in raw mango, chopped cucumber, onions and corn fritters. The small helping of mushroom cappuccino was much needed in order to tame the sharp burst of flavor trapped within this elegant-looking delicacy.
“Every bite’s a delight”, literally, when indulging in the Murg Zafrani, as two pieces of tandoori-smoked saffron cashew nut chicken breasts were layered onto each other, resting against a basmati rice patty stuffed with cheese and mushrooms, and accented with an edible silver leaf. Multiple sauces were displayed on the edge of the dish for additional gratification, but we appreciated the overflow of saffron. This option was also paired with a garden fresh salad and the chicken, ginger and coconut broth.
Our top choice of the taste-testing session was the Malai Murg aur Lasooni Jhinga: garlic-grilled prawns (shrimp) and green cardomom-flavored chicken breast grilled in a clay oven, served alongside a kati roll of bell peppers. The complementary berry salad invited a pleasant combination of flavors that aroused the palate, while the mushroom cappuccino calmed the tongue between each bite.
Lastly, came the Tandoori Grilled Chicken Tikka, which proved that looks can be deceiving. Grilled tandoori style, the reddish chicken breast appeared to be spicy since it was coated with a mild chili sauce; however, the outer segment was seasoned to perfection and bestowed the taste buds with a juicy, mouth-watering explosion. This concluding entrée was likewise served with the garden fresh salad and mushroom cappuccino.
Naturally pressed and blended juices are available to complete each lighter surprise, including carrot, green apple, and avocado — all three were refreshing and healthy.
From preparation to presentation, upon trying the variety of selections, food lovers are sure to partake in an unforgettable dining experience at Asha’s, while leaving with a deep appreciation for culinary art. We absolutely did!
Our taste-testing occurred at the Marina Crescent location (2224 4502) during the weekday lunch hours, but Asha’s can also be enjoyed at 1st Avenue – The Avenues (2228 3503) and Mahboula Spoons Complex (2225 4097) daily, from 12:30pm to 11:30pm. For more information you can visit their website www.ashasrestaurants.com. Follow them on Facebook: AshasMiddleEast.