Kalvin Ng headed to the new Royal Indian Night at Sirocco to sample fresh and favourite tastes from the Indian kitchen.

While I enjoy the huge variety of flavours from the subcontinent, I’d most likely struggle to recall the names of my favourite dishes off the top of my head, nor would I be able to tell you about their origins. The new ‘Royal Indian Night’ at Sirocco in the Holiday Inn Doha – The Business Park, seemed to be the ideal opportunity to revisit familiar favourites and try new ones while learning a little along the way.

The pan-Indian buffet on Fridays, along with Thursday’s ‘Seafood Night’, signal Sirocco’s return after being closed during the Covid-19 pandemic. The concept was designed to allow diners to sample a range of dishes from north to south, taking in all the different elements of regional specialities along the way.

The restaurant is light and spacious, with plenty of room for families and casual diners and on entering, we were welcomed by a Rangoli on the floor: a beautiful arrangement of flower petals, candles and colourful sand said to bring good luck and prosperity. For me, it also brought me a healthy appetite.

Our waitress, Joy, lived up to her name by being an absolute pleasure attending to all our requests.

We started our journey with refreshing welcoming drinks including Saffron and Mango Lassi, followed by a Kachumbar salad of tomatoes, cucumbers and chilli. The Aloo and Chana Chaats were a great introduction to Indian street snacks. For more, we headed to the dedicated Chaat Station, where the chef explained the intricacies of Papdi Chaat and Pani Poori: bite-sized, crispy flatbreads with a variety of toppings, herbs and yoghurt. The pakora and samosas were deliciously golden and crispy.

The mixed grill live station was a standout, with some of the most flavoursome fish tikka and mutton seekh kabab I’ve ever tasted. However, a real highlight was the curries and biryani on offer. The butter chicken was beautifully creamy with just enough bite to keep things interesting. The Palak Paneer – spinach paneer – reminded me of why I’m a fan of paneer, mild but with the bitterness of the spinach adding a second layer to the flavour.

The Rara Ghost was a deliciously rich and comforting mutton dish, full of flavour with a perfect harmony of spices, while the chicken and vegetable biryanis were light and fluffy.

The buffet format allowed me to taste dishes I had never tried before and, as I mentioned above, it allows the perfect opportunity for small portions of lots of different dishes for those who want to get better acquainted with the many and varied flavours of the subcontinent. Next time I’m at an Indian restaurant, I’ll be sure to order those new dishes instead of my usual selections.

By now, the waistband of my trousers was struggling to hold on. However, I couldn’t resist having at least a little dessert. Or a lot. The Rasmalai cheese dumplings in cardamom and saffroninfused milk were wonderfully delicate and spongy, while the Gulab Jamun featured fried dough balls in a light, rose-flavoured syrup. If you’re in the mood for ice cream, don’t miss out on a Kulfi, a slightly denser ice cream on a popsicle. It was even served in a dedicated cart with a range of toppings. You can also enjoy chocolate fountains with marshmallows, as well as a variety of cakes and sweets. A delicious masala chai ended the dinner on a perfect note.

Sirocco’s Indian Night is definitely a feast for the senses, with plenty of choices to satisfy different tastes. ✤

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