Chef Anahita Dhondy experienced a range of dining options—from global to local restaurants—that Abu Dhabi has on offer. The chef talks to Travel+Leisure India & South Asia about her favourite haunts in the emirate.
Excerpts from the interview with Chef Anahita Dhondy:
T+L India: What was your favourite experience in Abu Dhabi?
Chef Anahita Dhondy: Honestly, there are so many that it is difficult to choose just one. Out of all the experiences we had, the Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi one was my favourite, it was a lot of fun.
T+L India: What would be the top three restaurants in the city that you would recommend?
Chef Anahita Dhondy: We had a really good lunch at the speciality restaurant Mezlai in Emirates Palace. Not only was the food amazing, the chef interaction was great too. I also think one of my favourite places for a meal is the Japanese restaurant, Kaizu. There is another place called COYA, it is quite extraordinary. Abu Dhabi has a good mix of fine-dining restaurants and local places like Bu Tafish. I would highly recommend Bu Tafish as it is one of the oldest restaurants that serves fresh seafood.
T+L India: You also visited the local dates market. What was that experience like?
Chef Anahita Dhondy: The local dates market was quite intriguing because there were so many different varieties of dates, and most importantly, they were at different levels of ripening. So, there were young dates, there were very hard and firm ones, and there were also some really sweet ones.
T+L India: In terms of food, what was the highlight of the trip?
Chef Anahita Dhondy: After dinner at COYA, we went to this cosy little place called Al Aqssa Sweets for Kunafa, it is the best place to explore local and authentic delicacies. So, that was one of my most memorable experiences. Other than that, I really enjoyed the breakfast at Art House Cafe because the food was good, the vibe was amazing, and we were painting. It was very relaxing and the perfect way to spend the last day in Abu Dhabi.
T+L India: What similarities do you find between Emirati and Indian cuisine?
Chef Anahita Dhondy: I found a lot of overlapping spices. A lot of spices from India are used in very similar ways. Gravies and meats are slow-cooked, smoked, cooked in a tandoor or on a charcoal grill. So, I found the cooking techniques to be strikingly similar to India. We use a lot of dry fruits, roses, and flavours which are very Persian and they also do that.
T+L India: What has been your biggest takeaway from the Abu Dhabi trip?
Chef Anahita Dhondy: I think my biggest takeaway is that, while exploring a new place it’s great to have an itinerary and discover local restaurants, as well as fine-dining restaurants. And I think the best part is to go with people with whom you would enjoy exploring a new country, so that is what made it even more fun. I’m really happy I got to do that with Ankush and Ankita.
Travel+Leisure India & South Asia travelled to Abu Dhabi with three personalities who have made a mark in the world of food, travel, and entertainment. The trendsetters got candid about their impressions of the capital emirate and the things they enjoyed the most.
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