As the summer showed no signs of letting up, it was time to find more cooler spots. With no patience to get into the traffic crawling to Dubai, it was best to move in the opposite direction. We found ourselves driving to the picturesque Ajman Kempinski Hotel.
It is here that the hotel’s outlet Bukhara provides a dinning experience that lives up to the hype that it has generated.
What I had the pleasure of enjoying at Bukhara was a culture rather than just a restaurant. Here you are set to enjoy a night of “adventure” as you not only experience that true Indian hospitality but the rich heritage that goes with it hand in hand.
As we entered Bukhara, we were overcome by the feeling that we had entered someone’s home in the cosy Indian locales. The walls are made of rough uneven stone with support pillars of timber thatched together with rope.
The pillars give the feeling that they are holding up the entire structure. The room is dimly lit giving a very soft and comfortably relaxed feel. Handing with rope off the timber support pillars is a wonderful array of copper cooking pots and utensils scattered around the room. The walls are decorated with a bright selection of woven fabric all hangings that keeps in tune with the home like feel.
The tables are made of solid dark timber as are the round stools used to sit on. These stools are adorned with bright blue and yellow cushion tops that are truly stunning and comfortable.
The tables at the edge of the walls have the added feature of stools on one side and brightly coloured sofas on the other.
The kitchen which is the hub of activity in any home is positioned in such a way that it is almost visible from any point in the restaurant. The full glass front allows you to watch the activities of the chefs as they set about creating their masterpieces.
One of the first things I noticed when we sat down was the neatly folded red checked aprons. No! these aprons are not an invitation to help out in the kitchen, but rather they are to protect your clothes as you delve into eating your meal in the true Indian style of eating with your hands.
You would be well advised to give your hands a wash before sitting down at the table and brace yourself for an adventure. If you really don’t think you can use your hands or maybe find it a little difficult, do not panic. You can always ask one of the smiling waiters to provide some cutlery.
The staff are very friendly and supportive as they guided us in studying the pleasures of the menu and right through the evening they were not far away. Always ready to answer any question, they stand out in their elegant outfits.
The menu although limited compared to others has been created in such a way that what they do have on the menu is something special and is made to perfection. Each dish has a different and distinct flavour. These are dishes and recipes that have been passed down generations to keep alive the tradition. There is still an ample choice of non vegetarian and vegetarian dishes which allows for any taste buds to enjoy the delights of this restaurant.
With out aprons on, we were ready and eager to dive into our dining experience. In my opinion, the best way to enjoy a true Indian meal is not following a set course. But rather by having a table filled with a selection of foods that can be eaten and enjoyed.
Our table was very quickly filled with a mixed selection of both vegetarian and non vegetarian dishes. The colours and aromas were very pleasing both to the eyes and the senses. Now, although you may be a little unsure about using your hands to eat, I can assure you that as a very fine man once told me: “the food tastes much better when eaten in the hand.” And believe me, I am not sure why but it really does taste better.
If you are a big fan on Indian breads like I am you will be excited by the selections available like Khurmi Naan, Kasta Roti, Pudina Paratha, Bharvan Kulch and everyone’s favourite Butter Naan.
On the centre of our table was placed this large selection of freshly prepared breads. These breads when broken into small pieces work just as well as a spoon for scooping up curries and other foods.
The chef had prepared for us a selection platter of kebabs. The Seekh Kabab was a tender roll of lamb mince mixed with ginger, green chillies and coriander spiced with royal cumin and saffron. The grilling process used to prepare this kebab locks in the true flavours and what we tasted was a soft and extremely tender delicacy.
The Barrah Kababs which are chunks from the leg of lamb are also worth a try. If you want to continue with lamb then the chops are a must. Marinated in a mixture of yoghurt and malt vinegar and beaded with a melange of spices and chargrilled over red hot embers, this was something that was worth going the extra mile for.
Though these were not quite as soft and tender and did require some strong teeth to bite into, once you had dug into it, the true flavours melt in the mouth. The crispy outside was a great cover for the more tender meat inside.
Another absolute must is the Tandoor Jhinga. Jumbo prawns marinated in a rich blend of spices, masalas and yoghurt, this dish though a bit on the spicy side woke up our taste buds.
If you are looking for a curry based chicken dish then the Murgh Makhani is great. This was a dish so rich in a creamy tomato flavour with just a hint of spice. The chicken was extremely tender and the sauce lacing made it a delight to savour.
The Tandoori Aloo which can be found on the vegetarian menu stands out. A dish that can be enjoyed by everyone, it consists of large potatoes that have been scooped out then stuffed with a variety of items including raisins, cashewnuts, green chillies, green coriander and potato hash. This is then roasted over a charcoal fire. The sweetness of the raisins and the nuts blend well with the chillies and potato in a combination of flavours.
And you cannot leave without tasting the Dal Bukhara which is a combination of black lentils, tomatoes, ginger and garlic simmered overnight on slow charcoal fire. This is finished with cream and served with a dollop of butter. We were promised that we would be addicted to it. Cannot say I’m not!
If after you enjoy all this you can still find place for dessert there is a choice of four delights. But go for the Kulfi. This has to be the best I’ve tasted so far.
Voted as one of the Top Ten restaurants by Grumpy Gourmet in 2002 Bukhara is a refreshing experience. by Kerry Leigh