I remember going to Carnival a month after its launch, this new baby of Tresind located in DIFC looked posh, upscale and promised to serve Post-modernist Indian cuisine in a fine dining setting. The food was good but I felt the main focus on the presentation, where the taste took a bit of a back seat. After around 5 months ( present day ) these guys have come up with their season 2 menu and it is phenomenal. Yes, it really is! Again curated by the talented Chef Himanshu Sahni, this menu is big on flavor, the presentation is on another level and the food is delicious. This menu is a bold move by Carnival as it serves dishes from India’s small towns, the lesser known places. Recipes which are only famous in their region and has not made a global impact. Carnival is all set to get these recipes on the global platform. I loved this concept but was it easy to pull off? No! but carnival does it with so much ease that you instantly fall in love with the food.
We started off with their unique amuse bouche – the Bombay Chutney sandwich and Pink Pani Puri. The sandwich has mint chutney filling and the Pani puri has spiced pomegranate water. After teasing our taste buds with this we were served with a series of appetizers. Dahi Wada [AED 97] – This is a common Indian street food served almost everywhere but Carnival prepares this in front of you using molecular gastronomic techniques. Fried Lentil Dumplings are loaded with sweet yogurt, chilies, ginger, pomegranate, and Boondi. A tsunami of flavors, a dish well done. Dragon Chicken [AED 108]- Inspired by north-eastern flavors, the chicken is wrapped in Wai Wai noodles and coriander. The coriander is further torched to give a smoky flavor and elevate the dish. Wenger’s [AED 119]- This dish draws its inspiration from a famous cafe in New Delhi, India which was built at the time of the British Rule. It’s a delicate Mutton Shami kabab served with a boiled egg salad, took me back to the streets of New Delhi. Into the Wild [AED 180]- Remember the last time you cooked on a salt slab? NO RIGHT? Carnival reinvents this ancient technique in a very modern way where prawns and beef are cooked live on a Himalayan salt slab and served with chili garlic oil and bread. Isn’t it a stunning way to incorporate lost ancient cooking technique into fine dining.
Carnival has a fantastic bar and some really cool bartenders. We had 2 whiskey based cocktails which were made live on our table, Smoky old Fashioned and Burn Bourbon Burn. These were some seriously good drinks, pretty strong and not for the faint hearted. We also had two Mocktails of which one was a mixed berry served in a boiling skull and the other one was a mango flavored drinks served as a bouquet. I recommend you leave it to their bartenders and they will whip up some gems for you. It was almost half-time by the end of all this as our palate cleanser arrived just before the main course. It was a Stylishly served Strawberry Murabba which had a tamarind flavored strawberry. So after a stunning first half, I was so very excited about the mains and honestly, it did not disappoint even a tiny bit.
Jhinga La La [AED 158] – a coastal special prawn curry served with south Indian rice bread. Home style chicken curry [AED 139] – A lovely chicken curry served with buttered naan bread, simple yet so very delicious. Pind Ka Khana [AED 125] was next to follow, this is a staple in the state of Punjab, where this is mostly served in villages. A complete meal in itself, having portions of the seasonal dish sarso ka saag which is a thick gravy made from mustard leaves served with Indian corn bread. Chaas – which is a spiced buttermilk, Gud ki Chutney – a sweet jaggery chutney alongside pickle and onions. The flavors here were so authentic I almost felt like I was in a Dhaba somewhere in Punjab. Azurmendi Picnic Meal [AED 128] was next in line which as the name suggest is a picnic setup with aloo jeera, chana masala, raita, and poori.
Carnival has some very interesting desserts in their season 2 menu, recipes that are very Indian with an international appeal. So we started with the first one, the Indian Donut [AED 79] – the name itself is pretty quirky, this is a shahi tukda donut with condensed milk and saffron form. Fruit Custard [AED 102] – this is no ordinary custard, it is a specially made ice cream right in front of your eyes. Halwa Paratha [AED 71] – Suji ( semolina) halwa stuffed in a paratha dumpling garnished with kalakand crumble. Meetha Bhaat [AED 68] which can be translated to sweet rice is a dish inspired from the garhwal region of Uttrakhand. Jaggery and fennel flavored rice with served an upside down ice cream cone. The Carnival experience came to an end with a crispy Sesame Chikki which again has jaggery mixed with sesame and rolled into thin strips.
The Carnival season 2 menu is a winner and you guys cannot miss it. It’s a bold move by Chef Himanshu which works out perfectly. Their Lunch menu starts at 89 ++, a chef tasting vegetarian menu priced at AED 325++, non-vegetarian at AED 350 ++ and of course you can choose from the Ala Carte menu if the set menu doesn’t work for you.
Average cost for two: AED 600 (approx.) with alcohol
Address: Podium Level, Burj Daman, DIFC, Dubai