Fine-dining restaurant Qureshi Bab-Al-Hind recently held a special Punjabi culinary festival showcasing the flavours of the vibrant Indian state. Christine Karan embarks on a culinary journey to Punjab at Hormuz Grand, Muscat


As a lifestyle writer, I travel often but if there is one thing that I love as much as travelling, it’s eating. And the next best thing to food, is writing about it! It’s always a wonderful experience when your gastronomic encounter flows eloquently into words.

One such delectable experience was my recent visit to Qureshi Bab-Al-Hind restaurant at the Hormuz Grand, Muscat. Many restaurants that promise authentic cuisines don’t really stand up to that promise. But Qureshi Bab Al Hind is authentic… in every sense.

Classified as the authentic Northern Indian restaurant, Qureshi Bab-Al-Hind means it literally – the entrance to India i.e., Punjab and is inspired by the culinary traditions of the Mughal Empire that once fed the discerning palates of the Mughal Royals.

The restaurant is the labour of love by food-loving brothers from the land of five rivers, Chefs Ashfaque, Irfan and Imran Qureshi, sons of veteran master chef Imtiaz Qureshi.

As you step into the capacious restaurant a team of attendants in crispy, welcome you with a “Namaste” while wafts of mild aroma start arousing your appetite. The restaurant, decorated with intense reds and browns, reflects the tradition and culture of Mughal India with a twist of modernism.

The elaborate menu has a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes to satisfy every taste bud. We were at the restaurant to indulge in Punjabi Tadka, a special culinary experience that had been prepared by the brothers to celebrate the flavours of the vibrant Indian state.

We began the evening with an intense red drink, ‘Kanji’ – a traditionally fermented juice- served to aid digestion. This drink is not for everyone; the intensity of the taste and texture stands out truly unique.

For starters, we ordered an array of vegetarian and non-vegetarian bites. From Lahori Paneer Tikka (tandoori cottage cheese) to Moonge de Chaapmen (lamb ribs) from Phaldari Tinka (Spiced banana kebab) to Ajwaini Jhinga ( Spiced prawns), we were overwhelmed by the exceptional assortment.

The starters gave us a sneak-peak into what was coming as our main course. We were ready for some real powerful flavours right out of the tandoori oven. All dishes were served in traditional copper bowls, steaming hot and filling the room with exotic medley of aromas.

The main course was a mix to satisfy the vegans as well as the meat lovers in our group. One of my favorites, though being a meat lover, is Sarson ka Saag – a gravy concoction of mustard greens fried with garlic and chilies; Dal Makhni – simmered black lentils and red kidney beans overnight and finished with fresh cream and butter and Makki ki Roti, Indian cornbread tossed with a dollop of butter. The Methi Chicken was a star among the non-vegetarian dishes. With stripes of fresh ginger garnishing the yellow curry, the dish was a sight to behold and the taste was not far behind. The chicken was well cooked with the spice level just right.  The combination of these was a food symphony for me – a total food lover. I would definitely go back to Qureshi just for this delightful trio!

Another dish that won us over was the Aloo Wadi Pulao, an aromatic, traditional Punjabi basmati rice dish tossed in spices with baby potatoes and lentil dumplings. Eaten with chill raita (flavored yogurt salad), the pulao was a clear winner for all of us. The flavours of the pulao infused well into each other and the twist of spiced baby potatoes and lentil dumplings was truly very ‘Qureshi’.

Next came the desserts; something that all of us looked forward too and the Qureshi brothers did not disappoint us. Their three best sellers, Teeli Wali Khufi, an Indian version of ice cream made from condensed milk and generously flavored with Indian condiments and nuts, Gajjar da Halwa,the classic carrot pudding and Gud ke Raas Kee Kheer – in simple terms rice pudding- but with the dramatic flair of Indian tradition – completed our gourmet journey!

Qureshi Bab al Hind is not for the calorie-conscious but truly a place for those who celebrate and indulge in food. It is authentic, it is traditional and it has a variety on the menu that you can’t find anywhere in Muscat. Kudos to the staff of Qureshi Bab-al-Hind; they were well informed and very knowledgeable about every dish that was served.

You have to agree with me, it is not always the food that is exceptional, it is the whole dining experience that makes you enjoy the food and that is what Qureshi Bab-al-Hind offered.

Will I go back experience the brilliant Indian fine dining experience again? That is a steaming hot and well spiced ‘yes’ from me.

Let me finish off with this popular saying “a recipe has no soul; it’s the chef who brings the soul to the recipe. And the Qureshis have definitely achieved that!