शौक़ से लीजिये जी
इश्क के इम्तहाँ |
The famous song, written by Hasrat Jaipuri from 1958 hit Bollywood movie ‘Howrah Bridge’ still resonates in mind because of the sweet voice behind it; Asha Bhosle sang this song so nicely that its magical lyrics are elevated to the next level. The rough translation of this song:
Come O kind one! Sit down O lovely one!
With pleasure, take the test of love.
One can feel the elegance and hospitality in song and play it in mind while entering Asha’s Restaurant. Instead of a test of love, one can taste the food in the restaurant and get pampered by the utterly hospitable staff. The singing aficionado and passionate about food, Asha Bhosle is renowned and legendary Artist in India.
One of the greatest playback singers in Bollywood history, Asha Bhosle has recorded over 10,000 songs for over 800 movies. Although every class (ghazals, pop, etc.) of the song was within her vocal range, her speciality was in sensual songs or Western-styled songs-she had an uncanny knack for making every actress for whom she sang smoulder on screen as never before. Born on 8 September 1932, Asha, like her sister, the legendary Lata Mangeshkar, was trained by her father, Dinanath Mangeshkar, in classical music, and it was only a matter of time before she too turned to playback singing.
The high profile opening of the first Asha’s restaurant at WAFI Dubai in 2002 heralded the realisation of the second great passion in her life – outstanding Indian food. In just 15 years, the global Indian restaurant chain has become a firm favourite of regional and international diners with 18 locations in Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi in the Gulf, and Birmingham, Manchester and Solihull in the UK. The Galleria Mall, Abu Dhabi branch of Asha’s is 19th branch with flair.
‘Music satiates the heart and food satiate the soul.‘ – Asha Bhosle
As her songs satiate our heart, the food from Asha’s restaurant satiates the soul. Each ingredient and recipe is carefully crafted and artistically presented in Asha’s. The soothing music and utterly delicious meal is a complete treat to heart and soul at Asha’s.
The dynamic and creative team of chefs at Asha’s is always on exploration spree to create the varieties of dishes for their guests.
The newly opened branch at Galleria Mall, Abu Dhabi has Limited Edition Menu – Himachal to Ladakh, which is the result of Asha’s exploration of native cuisines from the Himalayas. The Himalayan community has always added emphasis on organic life; the ‘farm to table’ concept of food holds its roots in the sense of Himalayan community. The blissful nature and purity in the hearts of people make Himalayan cuisines stand out of the crowd. Himalayan cuisine is influenced culturally by Tibetan and closely related ethnic groups in the Himalaya and Trans-Himalaya. The Himalayan region is not fertile as compared to other areas.
Moreover, the climate is cold throughout the year with heavy snowfalls. The food crops grown in this region are buckwheat, millet, naked barley, common beans, and high-altitude rice. While on the journey from Himachal to Ladakh, Asha’s team explored few locally created recipes during their stay with natives as well as had the hands-on experience with the local cuisines. The creative chefs got inspired by the simple, rustic, and healthy cooking styles of people living in the Himalayan region and fused their creativity with it. The outcome of the Himalayan culinary impression and expertise of Asha’s team has resulted in a Limited edition menu – Himachal to Ladakh. Let us dive into each of the creativity by Asha’s from this Menu:
Thupka: It is a Tibetan noodle soup, which originated in the eastern part of Tibet. Amdo Thupka (especially thenthuk) is a famous variant among Tibetan people and Himalayan people of Nepal. The dish became popular in various parts of Nepal, Bhutan, and the states of Sikkim, Assam, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh in northeast India. It is also popular in the Ladakh region and the state of Himachal Pradesh. Traditionally, Thupka is consumed with wheat noodles, but Asha’s has given it a slight twist by replacing them with Soba Noodles (the Buckwheat flour noodles) which were originated in Japan. The mouth-fill of Soba noodles, creamy texture of Kashmiri red chilli-grama masala-lemon juice infused chicken soup, and a slice of the boiled egg make Thupka a complete and satiating meal. The use of Soba noodles and a slice of a boiled egg is impressive in this sumptuous Indo-Tibetan delight.
Ladakhi Dumplings and Geesmo: From Italian ravioli to Polish piroshki, to Chinese potstickers, the humble dumpling is beloved by eaters around the world. Indeed a universal food, you’d be hard-pressed to find a cultural cuisine that doesn’t include dumplings in some form, be it stuffed or boiled. Ghanaians make fufu from pounded cassava flour, while Nepali diners enjoy momo and Brazilians eat empanadas. Dumplings are also ancient food. Recipes for them appear in Roman texts, and Chinese dumplings are certainly even older. During the historical trading era, dumplings travelled to India with Chinese and Nepalese and stayed there since then. Today, these dumplings (momo) are one of the most famous street foods and inclusion in the fine-dine menu in India. Asha’s has given this iconic momo a twist – Poached chicken dumplings with velvety tomato and onion curry: Ladakhi Dumplings. Found in local shops and eateries across Ladakh, chilli garlic momos – Geesmo are staples of this trans-Himalayan region. Geesmo is chilli garlic momo which is deep-fried and tossed with soy, tomato ketchup, and sriracha. Both forms of Dumplings, though twisted, are delicious.
Tandoori Sea bream: It is not understood why Asha’s has included Tandoori Sea bream recipe in their ‘Himachal to Ladakh’ menu. There’s no relevance of sea fish and staples of the Himalayan community. However, there is a small link hidden in the marination of fish; the marination of fish with ginger, garlic, yellow chilli, and salt. The yellow variety of chilli is mainly grown in the regions of Punjab and South Kashmir. Perhaps, the trail of yellow chilli from Kashmir (Himalaya) makes the ‘Tandoori Sea bream’ a part of this Limited edition menu. Although the inclusion of the dish in the ‘Himachal to Ladakh’ list is baseless, its taste is delicious. The curd-less marination (sourness is due to lemon) and heat of Tandoor melt the flesh of fish, and the velvety texture with smokiness comes out the Sea bream is bliss.
Rara Mutton: It is slow-cooked minced lamb and lamb-on-bone with onion, tomato, Kashmiri red chilli powder, garam masala, and coriander powder. The tenderness of lamb meat with the umami of coriander powder and sharpness of garam masala is a combination that makes this dish rustic, and Asha’s presentation makes it sumptuous. This is one-of-a-kind dish in Asha’s which is fetched from the landlord of homestay where a team resided during their Himalayan expedition. This is a rare find in the F&B industry of UAE.
Dhaniwal Korma: Korma has its roots in the Mughlai cuisine of the Indian subcontinent. A typical Mughal dish, it can be traced back to the 16th century and to the Mughal incursions into the region. Kormas were often prepared in the Mughal court kitchens, such as the famous white korma, perhaps garnished with vark, said to have been served to Shah Jahan and his guests at the inauguration of the Taj Mahal. Classically, a korma is defined as a dish where meat or vegetables are braised with yoghurt, cream or stock added. The technique covers many different styles of korma. The flavour of a korma is based on a mixture of spices, including ground coriander and cumin, combined with yoghurt kept below curdling temperature and incorporated slowly and carefully with the meat juices. Dhaniwal Korma is classical chicken preparation with mild spice level and a melt-in-mouth creamy coating around the chicken drumsticks. Again, the dish doesn’t hold any trail from Himachal or Ladakh, but its close resemblance to Himachali recipe – Aloo Palda could have been the thought-provoking aspect for Asha’s.
Tabakmaz: Wazwan is a multi-course meal in Kashmiri cuisine, the preparation of which is considered an art and a point of pride in Kashmiri culture and identity. This ultimate Kashmiri banquet, having thirty-six unique dishes, is so vital to the Kashmiri festivities that even dates are changed and postponed according to the availability of the exceptional cook called Waza. Wazwan is considered an incredibly generous gesture of hospitality. The Kashmiris have a unique fondness for their mutton; Tabakmaz is such a dish that shows their fondness for lamb/mutton and cooked by Waza. Asha’s take on Tabakmaz is genuinely appreciable since they keep the soul of Tabakmaz intact, but enhances it with their creativity. Asha’s Tabakmaz is lamb chops marinated in Kashmiri red chilli, homemade garam masala, coriander powder, salt, and lemon juice served with cumin and potato chokha and nihari gravy. Yummy!
Hariyali Chicken Biryani: Biryani is Mughlai and Nizam cuisine where Aroma of Basmati rice is fused with the umami of meat and varying notes of spices and simmered on ‘dum’. Even if there are variations to this Indian royal food, Asha’s Hariyali Chicken Biryani is one of the best adaptations. Yakhni pulao finds a mention in Ain-e-Akbari (translated in English as ‘Administration of Akbar’, which is a 16th-century detailed document recording the administration of the Mughal Empire under Emperor Akbar, written by his court historian, Abu’l Fazl in the Persian language). It is of Persian origins but honed to perfection in the kitchens of the Awadh Nawabs. Yakhni means stock or broth, which is made by combining various spices in a muslin cloth, put into the water and boiled; the concoction is ‘Yakhni’. Asha’s team found the Dhaba style Biryani in Himachal very impressive, which was made of chutney made by mixing 60% fresh coriander and 40% fresh mint leaves. Asha’s Chicken Hariyali Biryani is a tribute to their entire Himalayan exploration since it is the fusion of Kashmiri saffron-infused basmati rice, flash-fried Himachali Dhaba chicken & fresh coriander-mint chutney, and Yakhni. Biryani variation cannot be better than this!
There are few missing links of recipes to the entitled ‘Himachal to Ladakh’ limited edition menu by Asha’s, but the superior taste of each dish will surely make you forget about it. Asha Bhosle’s philosophy about food: Friends to engage the mind, a song to warm the heart, and good food for the soul depicts the theme of Asha’s. The friendly staff, warm Asha Bhosle songs, and the soulful menu at one place is undoubtedly the place which you would prefer to spend quality time. Do not miss this place! Highly recommended!
You may clear the table with gratifying desserts: Saffron (Kashmiri) Milk cake and Kulfi.
Average Cost: AED 365 for two people (approx.)
Location: Ground Level, The Galleria Mall Extension, Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi
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