My search for the perfect kebabs in Abu Dhabi - a three-year odyssey - has finally come to a fruitful end.
The weekend started with trying to locate a tailor near the Corniche. The neighbourhood known as Khalidiya is indeed a jumble, but in the middle of it all now lies the Central Souk. After hours of trying to locate a tiny, Indian man, who runs a store called Adam and Eve, who came highly recommended as a tailor by one of the fashion writers at the paper, I was famished.
Looking around, there wasn't much choice unless I returned to the souk, which as a new fixture, should've been interesting enough to explore. But it was late afternoon and I had only one thing on my mind: food.
In a moment best described as a "light bulb", I found myself asking for directions to Kababs and Kurries. I had heard about the new Indian restaurant that served delicious, contemporary Indian food but was not convinced that such an evolution was taking place in Abu Dhabi, where people mostly preferred cheap, Indian food in the form of takeaway or delivery. Besides, as lovely as Indigo at the Beach Rotana was, it was far too expensive for a weekly trip. That was a treat. So between the holes-in-the-wall and the über-chic, there lacked a middle ground of gastronomic fare.
During my time here, I had come to understand the association of disappointment with food on far larger terms than before. Even if I was to enjoy a plate of succulent kebabs, the service would be downright bad.
With barely any expectations (maybe that was key), I approached the menu and to my delight, saw items that were as playful as they were innovative. Chicken wings marinated in dry Indian spices, anyone? I had (and these were my favourite) some delicate kakori kebabs, made with lamb mince and spices including nutmeg and saffron.
The last time someone stuck a strand of saffron in my kebab was 15 years ago, in a tiny joint in the back alleys of Delhi, made by a man, who was rumoured to have descended from the cooks to the Mughal kings.
Another bonus of Kababs and Kurries: the portions are small enough to order several different dishes and share with a friend, tapas style. Some of the kebabs, like the dahi kebab, stuffed with a tiny dollop of creamy yogurt are also revelations.
So you can imagine my state - sitting in a trendy souk, with my mouth open, nodding my head, not quite understanding how it came to be that I had finally stumbled upon satisfaction.
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