The street food starters at Mint Leaf of London brunch. Rob Garratt / The National
The street food starters at Mint Leaf of London brunch. Rob Garratt / The National

Brunch at: Mint Leaf of London, DIFC, Dubai



The location

In a city with such a large Indian expat population — and such geographical proximity to the world’s seventh largest country — Mint Leaf of London marks a culinary curiosity. The restaurant is clearly proud of being born in Europe, 10,000 miles from the Indian capital — it’s in the title, after all.

Perhaps with half-an-eye on capturing the class of jet-setters already familiar with the two London branches, here Mint Leaf is reborn in affluent DIFC, on the 15th floor of Emirates Financial Towers. Don’t let the droll, businesslike, locale put you off — the restaurant’s vantage offers great views of Downtown and Burj Khalifa through, curved, ceiling-tall windows. The space is smartly split between a formal restaurant and informal lounge area, separated by the central bar space.

The atmosphere

In a part of town known for pretension, if not outright-snobbery, Mint Leaf offers a welcome respite. Not that it isn’t stylish — the space is chicly furnished, with a trendy open kitchen in the centre. Wooden furniture contrasts with cool metallic surfaces, clashing with little sense of drama. But there’s no air of exclusivity — when we visited there was a mix of couples, friends, and large family groups enjoying a lazy Saturday lunch. Meanwhile the DJ kept the mood suitably relaxed with a party playlist of retro classics from Madonna to the Ghostbusters theme tune. While this wasn’t the kind of brunch where people were about to get up for a boogie, the soundtrack served to amply dispel any unwelcome mood of exclusivity.

The food

Mint Leaf thankfully follows the growing trend for à la carte brunching — there’s a set six-course menu, with taster portions of everything delivered to your table, but the option to order more of anything you choose. There’s also a stand-alone vegetarian alternative menu.

The opening two “street food” courses offered a welcome entry, with a nice, tangy masala chana chaat (chickpea salad) served alongside tandoori broccoli — the chewy vegetable balanced by a soft cream cheese sauce — and a small, tasty vegetable and quinoa kebab parcel (subz quinoa seekh).

Next came the meat tandoori course, with the murgh ka sule (cornfed chicken) softer than the lahori boti (chicken served on the bone), or the skewered lamb seekh kebab. The veggie alternative offered a soft, beetroot and mint cake, and a mustardy South Indian rice and cheese ball.

Next things move onto seafood, with a varied results. While I enjoyed the marinated salmon, and the sigiri prawns ticked a box, the achaari hammour was a little tough for my taste. The vegetarian menu here featured a classic paneer tikka.

For those with space to spare, the next course would be sure to fill stomachs: the curries. The mushroom do piaza was my top draw, layered in a more-ish, light, creamy sauce. The dal was a strong staple well done, but the paneer butter masala was perhaps a little sweet.

However the dark, heavy tomato base of the lamb bhoona was sublime, and the classic punjabi chicken masala fared well.

Who’s it best for?

Anyone with any interest in Indian food. The menu is modern but accessible, and for all the venue’s sophistication and class, the vibe is suitably relaxed to welcome daytime diners aged from seven to 70. While not exactly a budget option, for an a la carte brunch of this standard and locale, all the packages offer fair value for money, too.

Bottom line

Quality Indian cuisine in chic but laid-back surroundings, at a reasonable price.

• Fridays and Saturdays 1pm-4.30pm, from Dh195. Mint Leaf of London, Emirates Financial Towers, DIFC (reservations 04 706 0900). www.mintleaf.ae.

The National was a guest of the venue

ROUTE TO TITLE

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

The Good Liar

Starring: Helen Mirren, Ian McKellen

Directed by: Bill Condon

Three out of five stars

UAE players with central contracts

Rohan Mustafa, Ashfaq Ahmed, Chirag Suri, Rameez Shahzad, Shaiman Anwar, Adnan Mufti, Mohammed Usman, Ghulam Shabbir, Ahmed Raza, Qadeer Ahmed, Amir Hayat, Mohammed Naveed and Imran Haider.

Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes

Director: Francis Lawrence

Stars: Rachel Zegler, Peter Dinklage, Viola Davis, Tom Blyth

Rating: 3/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

Director: Wes Ball

Starring: Owen Teague, Freya Allen, Kevin Durand

Rating: 3.5/5

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

UAE medallists at Asian Games 2023

Gold
Magomedomar Magomedomarov – Judo – Men’s +100kg
Khaled Al Shehi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -62kg
Faisal Al Ketbi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -85kg
Asma Al Hosani – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -52kg
Shamma Al Kalbani – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -63kg
Silver
Omar Al Marzooqi – Equestrian – Individual showjumping
Bishrelt Khorloodoi – Judo – Women’s -52kg
Khalid Al Blooshi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -62kg
Mohamed Al Suwaidi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -69kg
Balqees Abdulla – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -48kg
Bronze
Hawraa Alajmi – Karate – Women’s kumite -50kg
Ahmed Al Mansoori – Cycling – Men’s omnium
Abdullah Al Marri – Equestrian – Individual showjumping
Team UAE – Equestrian – Team showjumping
Dzhafar Kostoev – Judo – Men’s -100kg
Narmandakh Bayanmunkh – Judo – Men’s -66kg
Grigorian Aram – Judo – Men’s -90kg
Mahdi Al Awlaqi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -77kg
Saeed Al Kubaisi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -85kg
Shamsa Al Ameri – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -57kg

The Color Purple

Director: Blitz Bazawule
Starring: Fantasia Barrino, Taraji P Henson, Danielle Brooks, Colman Domingo
Rating: 4/5

SPECS

Engine: Two-litre four-cylinder turbo
Power: 235hp
Torque: 350Nm
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
Price: From Dh167,500 ($45,000)
On sale: Now

SPECS

Engine: 4-litre V8 twin-turbo
Power: 630hp
Torque: 850Nm
Transmission: 8-speed Tiptronic automatic
Price: From Dh599,000
On sale: Now

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

Other IPL batting records

Most sixes: 292 – Chris Gayle

Most fours: 491 – Gautam Gambhir

Highest individual score: 175 not out – Chris Gayle (for Royal Challengers Bangalore against Pune Warriors in 2013)

Highest strike-rate: 177.29 – Andre Russell

Highest strike-rate in an innings: 422.22 – Chris Morris (for Delhi Daredevils against Rising Pune Supergiant in 2017)

Highest average: 52.16 – Vijay Shankar

Most centuries: 6 – Chris Gayle

Most fifties: 36 – Gautam Gambhir

Fastest hundred (balls faced): 30 – Chris Gayle (for Royal Challengers Bangalore against Pune Warriors in 2013)

Fastest fifty (balls faced): 14 – Lokesh Rahul (for Kings XI Punjab against Delhi Daredevils in 2018)

 

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Vault
Started: June 2023
Co-founders: Bilal Abou-Diab and Sami Abdul Hadi
Based: Abu Dhabi
Licensed by: Abu Dhabi Global Market
Industry: Investment and wealth advisory
Funding: $1 million
Investors: Outliers VC and angel investors
Number of employees: 14

EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

Understand What Black Is

The Last Poets

(Studio Rockers)

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian
Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).


Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).


Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming
Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics
Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

The biog

Profession: Senior sports presenter and producer

Marital status: Single

Favourite book: Al Nabi by Jibran Khalil Jibran

Favourite food: Italian and Lebanese food

Favourite football player: Cristiano Ronaldo

Languages: Arabic, French, English, Portuguese and some Spanish

Website: www.liliane-tannoury.com

England v South Africa schedule:

  • First Test: At Lord's, England won by 219 runs
  • Second Test: July 14-18, Trent Bridge, Nottingham, 2pm
  • Third Test: The Oval, London, July 27-31, 2pm
  • Fourth Test: Old Trafford, Manchester, August 4-8
Company Profile

Company name: myZoi
Started: 2021
Founders: Syed Ali, Christian Buchholz, Shanawaz Rouf, Arsalan Siddiqui, Nabid Hassan
Based: UAE
Number of staff: 37
Investment: Initial undisclosed funding from SC Ventures; second round of funding totalling $14 million from a consortium of SBI, a Japanese VC firm, and SC Venture

The specs

Engine: Single front-axle electric motor
Power: 218hp
Torque: 330Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 402km (claimed)
Price: From Dh215,000 (estimate)
On sale: September


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