Indian flavours at The Westin Doha
I guess it’s customary to start with a disclaimer. I am an Indian food snob. Having grown up on the cuisine, my tongue has been calibrated to isolate the imprint of asafetida, hunt out the depth of toasted cumin and savour the muskiness of fenugreek whenever they appear in dishes. I love all forms of Indian cuisine, and get really grumpy when flavours don’t hit the mark.
Which is good thing living in Doha because I’ve never had such consistently superb Indian food elsewhere. The options are quite simply unbelievable, ranging from tiny cafeterias to palatial dining rooms and even an outpost of a Michelin-starred chef (that would be Saffron Lounge by Vineet Bhatia). Crucially, most of them are exceedingly authentic. Which makes competition exceedingly tough.
So I was most intrigued that The Westin Doha would enter this market with not one but three different offerings, using the Festival of Light on October 30 as an anchor. I tried two of the culinary experiences in a span of a week as a guest of the hotel and have been raving about one in particular: Indian afternoon tea at Luxe.
Forget the scones, have a samosa. Can’t live without your cucumber sandwiches? Wait till you try the chicken tikka wraps. Love finger food? How about some chaat and pakora? Most of these snacks blend the convenience of street-food with flavours that delighted maharajas. Pile them up beautifully onto shiny tiered trays with bountiful pots of masala tea, and you have an elegant affair unlike any other afternoon tea in town. I shared one set with a friend and we polished off every blessed crumb in sight. The usual price of QR140 per set allows for two types of tea (or coffee), which I thought a nice touch, for my companion couldn’t do without her English breakfast.
Later in the week, I tried Spicy Sunday at the all-day dining outlet Seasonal Tastes, which was essentially an Indian-themed dinner buffet. On the evening of my visit, the restaurant was heaving. Only two tables were unoccupied, which I thought impressive for a school night. I happen to like busy restaurants, because I know the food on the buffet will be fresh. The naans and parathas were constantly replenished; while the different meat and seafood tikkas were flying off the grills and onto plates. My most memorable dish that evening was the Keralan specialty shrimp moilee, spiced just right and breathing of coconut.
Judging by the crowds, Spicy Sunday is a hit. The regular rate is QR150 for the buffet with regular beverages. (Bottomless tipple is a QR100 surcharge.) On surface it sounds slightly steep, except SPG members get 20% off, and the restaurant is part of the 2-for-1 app deal that’s saturated the market. I believe today’s deal-hunting climate may account for the popularity of Spicy Sunday, which ultimately is excellent quality food in a five star-hotel. All of next week (Oct 30-Nov 4), Seasonal Tastes is going with a Diwali-themed Indian Week. I’ve been told every night will be much like a Spicy Sunday, with added entertainment.
The Westin’s foray into Indian cuisine is pretty successful. Coming from Indian food snob, some of the city’s competition better watch out.
Leave a Reply