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Masala Library Review

Words by Nathan Irvine

Dubai's latest fine dining concept goes under the microscope.

Masala Library is the latest big name on Dubai’s fine dining scene. The concept comes from Jiggs Kalra – one of India’s most prominent food columnists and gastronomes, known affectionately as the Czar of Indian cuisine.

The restaurant is located in a cavernous space vacated by Rang Mahal on the fourth floor of JW Marriott Marquis Hotel. Its contemporary stylings stretch across the whole restaurant – from the striking decor to a menu that puts a new spin on traditional dishes.

To get a real taste of what Masala Library has to offer, we opt for the signature 12-course menu that comes with a carefully curated grape pairing.

Bite size delight

What’s obvious from the off is that the dishes are going to be small. Considering we have a dozen of them to get through, this isn’t such a bad thing.

A majority of the menu – or ‘menus’, considering there are meat and a non-meat options – is set. But across appetisers and mains, you have a few different options to choose from.

Amuse-bouche consumed, we head off on our culinary journey.

Modern flair

We kick-off with a deconstructed samosa. As the name suggests, it doesn’t look anything like a regular samosa. The ingredients arrive on a rectangular piece of pastry and we’re assured by our waiter that yes, it will taste just like the real thing. He’s right, of course. It tastes delicious and sets the tone for what’s to follow.

See, while the menu is full of traditional dishes from India and Sri Lanka, there’s a contemporary twist on them at Masala Library that makes them feel fresh.

Take the charcoal bhaji for instance. Masala Library takes the much loved onion bhaji, dips it into charcoal and then deep fries it to perfection. The result? A tastier version we never knew we needed in our lives.

Masala Library - Jiggs Kalra


Soup surprise

Throughout the evening, various dishes are put together table-side. It adds just enough theatre to the experience and never strays towards being intrusive.

One of our favourites is the mushroom chai. It’s put together in a glass mug with dried forest mushrooms, a helping of truffle paste and a hearty mushroom broth poured over it all. It looks a lot like a mug of chai, and it goes down a storm.

We’re equally impressed with the chicken tikka dish. It comes with one large chunk of meat and paste that has surprisingly been made from blending more chicken tikka. Delicious.

Final thoughts

We won’t attempt to do justice to every dish we sampled. But what we can say, is that our time at Masala Library was very enjoyable.

The food is made with the love, craft and an attention to detail that puts it on a par with the top fine dining venues in Dubai. And the knowledgable staff are excellent at giving you a backstory on each dish that’s served up. It all adds to the experience.

For a new spin on your old Indian classics, you can’t go wrong with Masala Library.



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