Kalvin Ng checked out a subcontinental feast at Dalchini Restaurant & Bar.

Doha is blessed with a wide variety of Indian restaurants to showcase the great breadth of tastes and textures from the subcontinent. Dalchini Restaurant & Bar aims to achieve something different with what it calls ‘progressive Indian cuisine’. The result is an innovative take on traditional dishes in a relaxing and modern atmosphere.

Located on the ground floor of the Centara West Bay Hotel and Residences Doha, Dalchini, the Hindi word for cinnamon, welcomes guests to its elegant dining room with dimmed lighting, gentle lounge music and hues of green and copper throughout. It’s perfect for an intimate dinner and is the brainchild of Alfred Prasad, the youngest Indian chef to be awarded a Michelin star for modernising British-Indian cuisine. Along with Executive Chef Ravi Karthik, the pair created a carefully selected menu with seasonal and local specialities, such as hammour. There were a few surprises thrown in as well. For example, the menu includes sushi-grade tuna, edamame and shimeiji mushrooms. Normally associated with Japanese cuisine, these ingredients added a modern touch to Indian classics.

We began our tantalising evening with a welcome drink, called Bengali Crush. The refreshing mocktail of strawberries, cranberries and soda came with a delightful smoke-filled bubble to pop on top. It was a feast for the eyes and the senses.

The theme continued with Chef Karthik entertaining us to a theatrical presentation of Patta Chaat, a traditional Indian street food. Pieces of dhokla, a light, spongy cake-like snack made from gram flour, are dipped in liquid nitrogen before being mixed with crispy kale, spinach, spiced chickpeas, pomegranate seeds, vanilla yoghurt and chutney. The liquid nitrogen bath, while visually spectacular, also served a purpose to give the dhokla a soft, creamy texture. It was fresh, beautifully spiced and balanced. You can experience this spectacle at Dalchini’s Social Brunch on Fridays.

The Dalchini Kebab Smoked Platter was next, featuring an appetising array of grilled meats and seafood with a hint of wood smoke, which was revealed at the table as the chef ceremoniously removed the platter’s glass dome. The tandoori lamb chops were succulent and tender with a hint of spice. The peppercorn chicken had a generous amount of heat but was not overpowering. Tandoori tiger prawns were marinated with lime leaves and coriander, giving a delicate citrus touch. Other standouts included the juicy malai chicken and tikki croquettes, made with edamame instead of peas. How innovative!

Dalchini has kept an eye on changing tastes. Roti made with multigrain flour is available, as well as gluten-free, sumac and coconut naan bread. We chose traditional naan to accompany two of their signature dishes: Kadhai Subzi and the Chettinad Seafood Curry. The Kadhai Subzi featured seasonal vegetables as well as exotic mushrooms, porchini mushroom powder and jackfruit: an interesting mix of spicy and stir-fried vegetables that had a meat-eater like me going back for seconds. The Seafood Curry was mildly spiced, pairing perfectly with pieces of salmon, calamari and prawn. The waitress suggested a signature Dalchini Mojito mocktail with the meal, and it did not disappoint. The presentation of all the dishes was sublime, as was the attentive service.

Although our bellies were now full, we somehow found room for dessert. The colourful presentation returned, and our phone cameras were poised and ready for it. Rasmalai and rice pudding were served on a bed of dry ice. Wafts of smoke drifted over desserts that were almost too pretty to eat. Pistachio pieces gave a nice crunch to fluffy pieces of rasmalai, which carried a hint of saffron. The cinnamon rice pudding was creamy yet light, accentuated with a generous spoonful of rose sago pearls.

Executive Chef Ravi Karthik explained that Dalchini aims to present a focused and innovative selection of dishes to highlight the best of Indian cuisine. The restaurant will launch a business lunch menu soon, as well as a meat and vegetarian Thali. With these new developments on the horizon, Dalchini is sure to become a favourite for lovers of Indian food, as well as those who’d like to experience the boundless possibilities of one of the world’s great cuisines. ✤