Qureshi Restaurant Muscat – Melting into Submission kind of love.

The radio, the newspaper and the social media channels have been abuzz about this new restaurant Qureshi Bab al Hind, located in Muscat, Oman. My friend has been pestering me to go there but I never took the initiative as Indian restaurants tend to easily disappoint me… That’s probably because I know the flavour profiles so well.

Qureshirestaurant

Nevertheless we were there last night! This restaurant is actually housed inside the hotel Homruz Grand, located a few meters away from the glorious Bank Muscat building at Airport Heights, Seeb. It is on-route to the resident/labour card renewal ROP office.

qureshi-muscat-shots

As soon as I entered the porch, the high ceiling, larger than life columns and doors, the immaculate interiors, tastefully selected cutlery, velvet & leather couch, and the mesmerizing courtyard pool view, established that  I was in for a fine-dining experience; did a quick math and made peace with the fact that its going to be an over the budget dinner. Hoping and praying that it doesn’t disappoint and makes it a worthwhile experience.

 

qureshi-restaurant-interiors

We started our meal with Masala Lassi (buttermilk) and it was just perfect, not overpowering with condiments, herbs or salt. It was fresh and woke up our taste buds for the coming onslaught of complex yet divine flavours. The beverage list at Qureshi is truly special, wanted to try the Thandai but there is only this much a girl can eat 😉

masala-buttermilk

The appetizer, though not fancy looking, scored high in taste. The Murgh Peshawari (chicken kebabs) were A] tandoored to perfection and B] were coated with creamy layer of  smokey marinade. The dish prepared in desi ghee (clarified butter) added oodles of richness to the soft and moist chicken. The pickled onions, carrots and veggies (a staple in most homes in Uttar Pradesh, India) as garnish was an accompaniment that elevated the dish to a whole new level.  A MUST TRY!

chickenpeshwari-qureshirestaurant

The Koh-e-Awadh (lamb shank) RO 11.5  made me want to cry out of joy – for it introduced me to the simple yet soulful flavours emanating from a slow-cooked dish. Famous celebrity chefs keep emphasizing the merits of a slow cooked dish, but last night I got to live it. This dish is cooked for 6 hours and this process brings out the true character of the meat. I wiped the dish clean. Don’t be deceived by the looks, this one dish can be shared between 3, even 4 if you order other stuff from the menu.

lambshank

We also sampled the Warqi paratha (layered bread dressed with desi ghee). Perfect match. Most dishes here follow the authentic recipe, hence they are richly laden with butter and spices.

Please do not equate spices with spicy, as the spices played the role of the supporting cast and allowed the key ingredient to shine.

My Verdict: Splurging justified!Dinner for two with one appetizer, two refreshing drinks, one hearty main course with bread, cost us around RO 34. When you are able to gauge the quality of the food presented in front of you with just a whiff then you know you are at the right place.

Word of Caution: The restaurant is in its debut phase, thus don’t expect the service to roll out like a well-oiled machine – but like me, you will forget that and melt into submission after devouring the dishes that represent the passion of the chefs and the soul of Awadhi cuisine.

 

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Semsom Restaurant, Muscat – Expect the Unexpected Kind of Love

Semsom-restaurant-Muscat-oman

Semsom is the newest addition to the Sultanate’s restaurant scene with a promise of delivering “Lebanese Cuisine with a Twist”. So I visited this restaurant to explore the offerings; And… did it live up to its promise? A HUNDRED PERCENT!

Don’t you just love it when restaurants can walk the talk… the promised twist, was not only delivered but it was done in excitingly unexpected ways. The magic of Semsom lies in its ability to surprise your senses like never before! It is about doing a hundred little things right. Its about truly taking us on a culinary voyage.

Semsom Interiors

The Hummus Trio

When the notoriously famous pink hummus (RO 2.1) was placed in front of me; my eyes instantaneously started feasting; followed shortly by my taste buds that went on a merry discovery ride. The tanginess from the sumac powder (tart red berries) and the freshness from the zaatar (thyme) blended in perfect unison with the creamy chickpeas. Drizzle some Olive oil (imported from Lebanon) over the hummus if you find the dip a bit too tart. (please note: I have been told tart n tangy are the predominant flavours in Lebanese cuisine)

Hummus Trio

 The olive & sesame hummus (RO 2.1) was another personal favourite. Do sample this one and enjoy the delicate flavour profiles. It Is a must try.

Next on the menu was the hot appetizer chicken liver. I honestly liked this dish. It was hearty, tasty, packed with flavour and a richness, which I was not expecting at all. It’s not a dish you would find everywhere and it definitely is not a dish that everyone can get right. But Semsom does. They Nailed It!

Chicken Liver

Moving on… the Lamb Bread (Lahm b’Ajine RO 2.3)… I ate not one, not two but three slices… Do I need to say more???? The pastry was soft, the meat succulent and packed with oodles of fresh-burst in your mouth flavours.

Lambbread-Se

The next dish is one of the Semsom favourites Fish Kebbeh (RO 2.9) – Apt for fish lovers and the not so enthusiastic seafood diners. Put your cutlery down, scoop up the mini parcels, bite into it and sup up the oozing sensationally juicy caramelized onions. For a second you might think there is nothing fishy about this dish, you are not hit by the clichéd ‘taste of the sea’. The flavours are masked and you unlayer it as you work your way through the crust, which is a dough made with fish and burgol mixture. Expected? Nah…totally Unexpected!

Fish Pockets

Now comes the big daddy of grills. Mixed Grills (RO 6.5) This was a true treat, a peek-a-boo kind of dish, as the succulent chicken grills were kept hidden by the colourful and tempting bread. Once the veil of bread was lifted, our curiosity was rendered speechless with the sheer sight of lined rows of grilled meat and chicken. Needless to say, I broke into an invisible happy dance. Grilled to Perfection.

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It’s Dessert Time!

I generally brace myself as desserts are really hard for any restaurant. You either get it right or you don’t. There is no midway here. Just look at the pictures below, I am sure it speaks for itself. If it doesn’t speak to you, then read the captions.

Lebanese Pannacotta – Mhallabieh

Only legends can come up with something as yummy as this. This dish is special, as it is the owner’s grandma’s recipe. Cannot get more authentic than that. Do you know what orange blossom water tastes like? If not you don’t know what you are missing! And now you know where to find it.

dessert 1
Strawberry Pannacotta – Mhallabieh (R0 2.2)
dessert 2
Apricot Pannacotta – Mhallabieh Apricot (RO2.2)

Desserts are incomplete without a whiff of chocolate for some, hence this version of chocolate ice-cream with crispy flavoured vermicelli will truly leave you in a choco trance.

chocolate-dessert

dessert tray

I nearly forgot, and that would have been a crime! Jelab – try this drink, it is a must, must must… (did I mention MUST) try… I think this could possibly  be the drink of the Lebanese Gods! The floating pistachio and pine nuts make for excellent munchies after you slurp up the sweet, rose water flavoured ambrosia.

jelab
Jelab

 

My verdict: A must try, leave all  food prejudices aside and surrender yourself to the Semsom kitchen. The passionate owner Christine has made sure that you will be taken care of just as if you were a guest in her own home.

As they say in Lebanon 1000 Sahtein!

Semsom Restaurant, Location: Level 1, Muscat Grand Mall, Website, Facebook

collage semson