Masala Craft, Al Qasba
Located at the photogenic Al Qasba area in Sharjah, this restaurant is a great place to enjoy North Indian cuisine with your family and friends.
The Location and First Impressions:
We arrive at 8 PM on a Saturday. There’s ample parking space. Once you arrive in Al Qasba, it’s very easy to spot Masala Craft; it’s the first restaurant across the mosque. This was our third visit to the restaurant. There are sitting arrangements outside, but given the hot and humid (yes, it’s still summer here!) weather, we decide to dine indoors.
The indoor lighting is too soft and red; quite romantic for a dinner but difficult for food photography. There’s an old cricket match playing on the plasma TV, with the volume on mute. Hindi and English songs play alternately in the background as we eat. We listen to Who Let the Dogs Out whilst having dessert. We could’ve asked them to stop the music, but we are busy taking pictures. Masood and I are having dinner with my mom, Sophia (my sister), Saima (our friend), and Mushtaq (Masood’s brother). The restaurant is empty when we arrive. We are promptly shown to a table for six, a cold towel is given to each of us to wipe our hands with, the napkins are placed on our laps, and finally, a candle is lit before our orders were taken.
The Food and Drinks:
Lemon mint soda. This drink is refreshingly good! It tingles the taste buds with just the right amount of sweetness. Sophia thinks there should be a cute little umbrella to finish off the look.
Veggie sticks and mint chutney. This is a complimentary appetizer. As you can see, the carrots dominate the scene, although everyone attacks the cucumber sticks first. We dip everything in the mint chutney. These are nice to nibble on as you wait for your entrée to be served.
Papad. A nice and crunchy appetizer to wake your taste buds up. This is made of black gram, chickpea and rice flour. We also dip this in the mint chutney.
Chicken hariyali tikka. Minced chicken marinated in spices, grilled to perfection, then rubbed with a rich paste of coriander and mint leaves. This is good, but I’ve eaten better ones in New Delhi. I will try to recreate this succulent dish at home.
Fish tikka. I forget to ask what type of fish this is, but I think this is hammour. This tikka is marinated in spices just mild enough to bring out the delicate flavor of the fish. I like this better than the chicken tikka.
The naan basket. This contains freshly-baked naan in four flavors: plain, butter, garlic, and another one that I can’t remember now. The bread is served warm and fresh from the oven, and it’s a great accompaniment to the tikka. However, I think they should increase the size of their naan.
Dum ki biryani with yoghurt raita. We order a chicken and a mutton biryani that came in these pretty clay pots covered with a thin flat bread to keep the steam and aroma in. Despite the gorgeous presentation, I must say it’s still not as good as a Hyderabadi biryani.
Pista Kulfi. This is a milk-based dessert that pretty similar to ice cream, except that a kulfi is much more rich and dense. It has a distinctive taste due to the caramelization of lactose and sugar during the lengthy cooking process. Speaking of sugar, we find this kulfi too sweet. One serving is enough for all six of us!
Saunf. Sugar-coated fennel seeds at the end of a meal to cleanse the palate and aid in digestion. I love how they’re brightly colored. They look so festive!
The staff is extremely attentive, polite and friendly. In fact, when we ask if we could take home the clay pot in which the biryani is served, and they give us a new pot to take home! I am now a proud owner of a pretty, eco-friendly, brand-new clay pot. You’ll see it soon on this blog.
The overall dining experience is 5 out of 5 stars, but I’d give the food a 4 out of 5 stars. This is an expensive restaurant and I expect the food to taste its very best. There are several vegetarian items on the menu, but we didn’t try those.
Masala Craft – Garhoud, Dubai (04-282 9626)
Masala Craft – Al Qasba, Sharjah (06-556 6284)
PS: Sanaf and Sonia, we missed you so much!