Masti’s iftar at Dubai’s La Mer is a contemporary Indian treat

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A tangy cassava chaat, a fresh take on traditional Indian street food. (Photo courtesy: Masti)
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Updated 06 June 2018
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Masti’s iftar at Dubai’s La Mer is a contemporary Indian treat

  • The vibrant, leafy, cliché-free interiors represent a hip, modern India

DUBAI: In a city with no dearth of Indian restaurants, recent arrival Masti has quickly carved out a niche for itself with its — appropriate, given its name translates as ‘fun’ — quirky, lighthearted approach.

The theme is evident the moment you walk into this two-level restaurant located at one end of Dubai’s funkiest beachfront destination, La Mer. The vibrant, leafy, cliché-free interiors represent a hip, modern India, with Art Deco-inspired design, bright accents, and kitschy cool art. With expansive terraces across both levels, the indoors and outdoors meld together seamlessly here, especially in the cooler months.

This month’s iftar offering is a set menu of the restaurant’s greatest hits, with six sharing-style courses offering plenty of well-paced fodder. The meal starts with a lentil soup — this subtly spiced version of that Indian staple, dal, is eminently eatable even without its regular consort, rice.

This is followed by a course of cold starters: edamame chaat and a tangy cassava chaat, which are both fresh takes on traditional Indian street food — the chards of flash frozen yoghurt in the former are inspired, while a ‘tomato lace’ provides the appropriate touch of inventiveness in the latter.

For hot starters, there is a choice between lamb or beetroot croquettes. You don’t notice the absence of meat in the vegetarian version, which is packed with flavor, accentuated with a red-pepper dip, and an accompaniment of very moreish crispy kale chips. Plus, you’re served a generous bowl of Masti fries — a kind of Indian-ized poutine, with a curry gravy topping on crisp stringy potato chips.

Mains stick to the evergreen classic, biryani, with the option of chicken or vegetables. This dish doesn’t veer too far from the tried-and-tested, with tender chicken cubes smothered in fragrant homemade spices nestled in a bed of long-grain rice; the delicious crispy kale makes an appearance here again in a yoghurt raita.

While a biryani would usually signal the end of the savory part of a meal, here they’ve saved the best for last. The bhatti-spiced brisket grilled bao sandwich is a bestseller for good reason — melt-in-the-mouth meat pairs perfectly with caramelized onion, oyster sauce, and pomegranate inside a pillowy bun, with a ‘syringe’ of tamarind sauce providing just the punch it needs. Options of pulled tandoori chicken or vegetarian snowpea-and-mushroom baos are also available.

It’s a lot of food to get through but if you think dessert can be skipped, think again. Their signature ‘Lotus’ tiramisu has nothing to do with a tropical flower, but rather the popular caramelized biscuit, which tops a tiramisu-flavored ice-cream stick sitting on a pool of ‘basundi’ (a condensed-milk concoction) — an excellent example of how fusion, when done right, works really well.
All of this can be washed down with a delicious Ramadan-themed mocktail. We think iftar at Masti is a must-try.



Opening the door to Middle Eastern designers at Dubai Design Week

Updated 14 November 2018
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Opening the door to Middle Eastern designers at Dubai Design Week

  • This year, five pavilions from Amman, Beirut, Dubai, the Eastern Provinces of KSA and Kuwait City are showing off
  • The Abwab exhibit is just one thought-provoking, Instagram-worthy part of Dubai Design Week

DUBAI: Named after the Arabic word for “doors,” Abwab is an annual exhibition at Dubai Design Week, a creative fair that runs until Nov. 17.

This year, five pavilions from Amman, Beirut, Dubai, the Eastern Provinces of KSA and Kuwait City are showing off their artistic innovations in Dubai Design District, where the event is based.

Two designers were invited from each place to collaborate and produce works related to the theme “Between the Lines.”

The creations are housed in five pavilions at the heart of Dubai Design District, made up of red twigs and newspaper pulp and designed by the firm Architecture + Other Things.

Visitors crowded around the pavilions at the opening of the fair on Tuesday and explored the five spaces with their unique, sometimes perplexing, offerings.

Amman‘s pavilion at the Abwab exhibit is called “Duwar,” roundabout in Arabic, and is described as a representation of the cycle between chaos and order. The exhibit is a walk-through piece featuring moving images on boards suspended from the low ceiling of the circular space. Visitors are encouraged to walk through the dark circular corridor and take in the constantly flashing imagery above them in the piece that was created by multidisciplinary designer Hashem Joucka and architect Basel Naouri.

Beirut’s contribution to the Abwab exhibit is called “Beirut Fillers” and features a series of suspended words in a constructed sensorial environment, complete with audio recordings of the words “euhhh,” “halla2,” “enno” and “fa,” all of which are linguistic fillers commonly heard in Beiruti conversation.  

For its part, the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia is showcasing a fascinating piece of work called “The Sound of the East Coast” that pays homage to the tradition of pearl diving in the area with shaking, jelly-like bowls. The installation even features audio recordings of the traditional song “El Yamal,” often chanted to keep the divers motivated.

While Kuwait City’s offering, called “Desert Cast,” uses locally sourced materials and production methods to explore the idea of identity in the country, Dubai’s piece at the exhibit is called “Thulathi: Threefold” and is marked by a protruding triangular section that breaks the natural form of the rounded pavilion. Each corner of the triangle opens slightly through apertures, revealing video projections and silhouette cutouts.

The Abwab exhibit is just one thought-provoking, Instagram-worthy part of Dubai Design Week, an event that boasts workshops, exhibits and a trade fair.