KashKan by Ranveer Brar review: Indian venue spices up Dubai Festival City Mall

Its signature daal dish is infused with real 24k gold

Kashkan's bhut jolokia chicken tikka
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It’s no secret that the Indian dining scene in the UAE is competitive.

This fact was not lost on Ranveer Brar, the Indian celebrity chef who launched KashKan with the aim of bringing a menu to Dubai that’s as diverse as India itself.

Its very name epitomises this, blending the words Kashmir (India’s northernmost point) and Kanyakumari (a town in the country’s south).

And Brar’s concept isn’t just here to make up the numbers. It’s here to stand out, with a signature daal dish that’s infused with real 24k gold. Yes, you read that correctly.

Brar recently told The National he wants KashKan to integrate “the richness of Indian cuisine with the vibrancy of Dubai”.

After our visit, my dining partner and I agree that the restaurant delivers exactly that.

Where to sit and what to expect

KashKan can be found in Dubai Festival City Mall which, as any long-term resident will tell you, is one of the emirate’s OG shopping centres.

On arrival, you’re confronted by three seating choices. There’s a wide, open-plan, interior dining area, a selection of private booths that offer a more intimate setting and an outdoor terrace overlooking Dubai Creek and the Mohammed bin Rashid Library.

We opt for the terrace option, as the view is stunning and adds something a little extra to our dining experience: the opportunity to enjoy the mall’s laser show.

This isn’t your typical mall restaurant, designed for a quick bite to eat before a shopping trip or visit to the cinema. It’s a sophisticated and stylish venue that offers an elegant setting whatever the scenario.

The menu

With the scene set, my dining partner and I are treated to an eclectic mix of Indian fare that lives up to KashKan’s billing.

To start, we are treated to two of the signature chaat dishes – aloo tikki and shahi dahi bhalla (Dh46 each). Both are an explosion of spice and flavour but most of all, colour, as the plates trigger childhood memories of the old "taste the rainbow" Skittles adverts.

It’s a wonderful way to start the evening meal, with authentic Indian flavour that’s just enough to whet the palate but not so much as to overpower the dishes to come.

Next up, it’s the Lucknowi kebab platter (Dh108), which we customise slightly as my dining partner is vegetarian.

While I tuck into the mutton galaouti kebab and the ever-reliable chicken tikka, my fellow diner enjoys a delicious mushroom galawat. These are all cooked Tandoor-style and served alongside an assortment of mini breads and chutneys.

For mains, we feel like we have no choice but to try the Daal KashKan (Dh68). Come on, where else are you going to try daal infused with 24k gold?

And it's as incredible as you'd expect, with the delicious sophistication of a classic daal or lentil infused with gold – which gives its creamy texture a touch of grandiosity.

Our focus, perhaps understandably, perhaps not, remains on the signature dish as we’re served our other mains – but not for long.

I go for the Naga black chicken curry with sticky rice (Dh88), a spicy yet flavourful dish from the North East Indian state of Nagaland, known for its hot chillies, among other things. My dining partner, meanwhile, opts for the ghobi mussalam bake (Dh74) – a delightfully presented cauliflower dish originating from the northern city of Lucknow.

A highlight is undoubtedly the Bhut Jolokia Chicken Tikka (Dh82) – a dish so spicy that KashKan offers anyone who finishes it a completion certificate signed by the head chef, along with a free dessert.

I give it a go, and I’m pleasantly surprised by the heat levels. It’s a delicious dish cooked in the traditional Tandoor style, paying homage to the Nagaland region.

But as much as I enjoy it, a few mouthfuls are enough to set the taste buds alight so there’s no certificate for me to take home.

A chat with the chef

Chef Shamsher Singh, from India’s northernmost state of Himachal Pradesh, is highly experienced in his craft. He worked at five-star hotels such as the Shangri-La New Delhi and Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai before joining the KashKan team.

He says: “I am feeling very proud. I am sure that together we will take this organisation to great heights.”

Singh says he treasures every ingredient in his kitchen, but there’s a special place in his heart for turmeric and green cardamom.

“Small cardamom and turmeric make the food nutritious and tasty. We use it in our special dishes such as Nali Nihari, Biryani and kebabs,” he says.

Endlessly proud of his homeland, Singh carefully curates the menu to include food from every Indian state.

“The menu is from Kashmir to Kanyakumari,” he adds. “Local ingredients are used, and it makes the food we offer even more attractive.”

He is also keen to stress that his kitchen employs traditional Indian cooking techniques, such as Dum. His culinary philosophy reflects that of his nation, Singh says, and he is keen for KashKan to emphasise “a balance of flavours, textures and aromas”.

He adds: “[Indian food] often incorporates a variety of spices, herbs and regional ingredients. The use of intricate spice blends, such as masalas, plays a key role in creating rich and complex taste profiles. Additionally, Indian cuisine values the concept of Ayurveda, linking food to overall well-being and health.”

Price point and contact information

Appetisers are priced between Dh30 and Dh40, platters are Dh78 to Dh108, mains cost Dh65 to Dh148, while desserts are Dh28 to Dh40.

KashKan is open daily from 10am to 1am. Reservations can be made by contacting 055 129 1646.

This review was conducted at the invitation of the restaurant

Updated: March 13, 2024, 4:06 AM