This Ramadan, Tamba are taking diners on a new culinary journey via a set menu specially created for Iftar. Thankfully, the team at Tamba aren’t changing things up, so don’t expect any sort of Arabic fusion to creep into the tried and tested menu signature dishes.
What we’ve always appreciated about Tamba is the way in which the flavours always comes first. Yes it may be Indian cuisine, but the food represents more than the subcontinent, taking inspiration from all over the world and forging ahead with something entirely new. As a recipient of the ‘Favourite Restaurant in Abu Dhabi’ at the 2017 FACT Awards, the food at Tamba has created quite the impression for its abundant textures, exquisite presentation, culinary flare and fresh ingredients. It’s remarkable what Tamba has managed to achieve since it opened just a year ago.
The ‘Iftar Culinary Journey’ is an amalgamation of the restaurants favourite dishes, drawn from both the original and newly launched spring menu. Iftar at Tamba begins with a candlelit table adorned with dried apricots and dates. A selection of Ramadan drinks including Jallab (a popular Middle Eastern drink mixing dates, grape molasses and rose water), Amar al Din (made from Apricots) and Laban (fermented milk) are provided. Working as a means to rehydrate and aid digestion, essential factors during the holy month.
Dishes are ideal for sharing and are served to the table tapas style. We begin with Root Vegetable Chips accompanied by a mild chutney and a flavoursome Chicken & Lentil Soup. Although these dishes aren’t quite the showcase of Tamba’s culinary flare that we’ve become accustomed to, they’re a light and sensible means of breaking the fast and easing diners into a menu of generously portioned food that’s bursting with flavour.
From the new menu arrives Delhi Mix, inspired by the street food found in India’s capital and described in the menu as a ‘quinoa smoky mess.’ Once the smoke clears, it’s important that all of the ingredients are mixed together (yogurt, quinoa, spices, bejeweled pomegranate seeds, a mint gel and shards of papad). The dish is similar to chaat but with the lentil element substituted for quinoa, with each mouthful instilling a different flavour and texture to the palette in a burst of sweet, tangy and cold sensations.
Keeping things light, we’re presented with a salad of Baby Spinach, Paneer, Sweet Chilli and Garlic Chips. A dish of remarkable freshness, with the unsalted curd cheese being the highlight, The salad is followed by Bombay Baji Rolls, taking Italian lasagne sheets and wrapping them around mashed vegetables. The dish is representative of Tamba’s Indian cuisine inspired by global influences and the confluence between Italian and Indian is faultless. The creamy aampanna sauce is made from green mango and is used in India as a summer cooler to beat the intense heat. Here at Tamba it complements the Baji rolls and brings an unexpected sweetness to the dish that once again showcase the precision of Tamba’s team of master chefs.
Our favourite dish from the Iftar menu was the Sweet & Sour Pumpkin With Spinach Paratha. Presented like a soft shell taco, the pumpkin is beautifully cooked and brings a sweet earthiness, adding another dish of exceptional flavours to Tamba’s impressive repertoire. Experimentation creeps in with the jaggery and tamarind glazed Chicken Wings, marking the only new dish to be included in this menu. The wings are large and contain copious amounts of succulent meat and although we’re not usually fans of chicken wings, these were very good. Perhaps due to the cooking process in the traditional tandoor (clay oven) or the mix of Tamba’s special seasonings. If these prove popular during Iftar they could soon become a permanent fixture of the Tamba menu.
Until this point in the menu things remained light and bitesized, but the arrival of the 48 Hours Slow Cooked Lamb Shank changes all that. The characteristically red sauce is a blend of ghee, shallots, aromatic spices and chilis, and features a milder level of heat than you might expect. The meat literally falls off the bone and the forty-eight hour cooking time certainly has a part to play in the textures and flavours of this plate. The meat is accompanied by a choice of chicken, lamb, or quinoa vegetable biryani. Each encased in a breaded lid that releases an aromatic scent when prised open.
Tamba’s dessert course is effecitionately referred to as ‘The Lasting Impression’ and has fast become a talking point on the Abu Dhabi dining scene. The pinnacle of this is The Break-Up, a wise inclusion and a force to be reckoned with! A beautiful gold sphere sits in the center of a heavy bowl and is decimated, before being topped with a hot chocolate sauce, salted caramel and peanut semifreddo. It’s rich, rewarding and over-indulgent and even on a third try, remains our favourite dessert to date.
Those in search of something less heavy can end the meal with one of Tamba’s homemade ice creams (we wholly recommend the velvety saffron) or the ornamental Calamansi Sorbet. A refreshing mix of citrus with an underlying heat from the inclusion of chili.
Tamba’s Iftar offering makes a welcome change from the endless Arabic buffets and is excellent value for money at just AED 199. Taking inspiration from all over the Indian subcontinent and injecting a unique contemporary twist, Tamba is representative of more than just food.
Looking back on our first experience of Tamba a year ago, we wrote: “With Tamba we have a completely new and innovative concept and one that actually works. The passion is evident and the execution so meticulous, that it’s actually very difficult to find fault. Tamba is more than just a dining experience, it leaves you with an unshakeable feeling of greatness…”
In a year of uncertainty where restaurants have been cutting corners in terms of ingredients and levels of service. We’re pleased to stand by the above statement. Tamba is a testament to greatness and consistency and we can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
We were invited to dine at Tamba. All views are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE. Cover image used courtesy of Tamba.