Poila Baishakh with Shiraz | Celebrating Festivals in Dubai – Episode 4

Poila Baishakh with home delivery from Shiraz followed by a Bengali Buffet in the restaurant thereafter

This is not my first post on Shiraz. And it’ s not going to be the last post either. But this is definitely the last episode of a series of posts on last month’s festive restaurant hopping. The series…
Nowruz Buffet At Ezi Dzi | Celebrating Festivals in Dubai – Episode 1
Songkran Splash At Westin and A Dinner At Sukhothai | Celebrating Festivals in Dubai – Episode 2
Baisakhi Celebration in Patiala and Options By Sanjeev Kapoor | Celebrating Festivals in Dubai – Episode 3

No, I don’t own the restaurant. Neither do I have a friend who owns it. It’s just that my Kolkata nostalgia pulls me towards Shiraz. In the absence of a Bengali restaurant in Dubai, what do we do? If not a Bengali restaurant, here’s atleast one restaurant that hails from Kolkata. Hence – dive in or ask them to deliver! Shiraz has it’s origins in Kolkata and does tempt us with posters of a Bengali Buffet now and then on special festive occasions like Durga Pujo and Poila Baishakh or the Bengali New year. We fall for it, even at the expense of my friends in Kolkata scoffing at us – Shiraz cooking Bong food! What does a Mughlai cook know anything about Bengali cooking? Not much, but a good cook is a good cook – I argue. Not a very authentic or extraordinary Bengali Buffet, but yes, a few dishes here and there touch the Bong heart. But then, Shiraz has never promised to feed the Bengalis in Dubai, Bong food. It delivers where it promises – it serves brilliant Awadhi food. The Biryani and the other Awadhi dishes, touch the heart always. Most of the Bengalis that I have met, associate Biryani and the Mughlai food with the Lucknowy or the Awadhi style of cooking. Hence, as much as we love the various kinds of Biriyani – the Hyderabadi, the Sindhi and the Pakistani Biryanis, the Bong taste-buds still search for Shiraz’s Biryani. There is no dearth of mid-range Indian restaurants in Dubai, but Shiraz is the only Indian restaurant which can satiate the Mughlai food nostalgia for those who grew up in Kolkata.

An excerpt from an earlier encyclopaedic post of mine where I re-visit Kolkata Shriaz after ages and feel ecstatic when Shiraz opens its doors in Dubai shores… Shiraz Golden Restaurant, Dubai | From Lucknow To Kolkata And To Dubai!

Amongst all the golden memories of my college days in Kolkata, the one thing that consistently churns up is Shiraz Golden Restaurant in Circus Avenue, Park Circus. All our random parties or any special party during any festival, for example Holi, Diwali or even Durga Puja was necessarily powered by Mutton Biriyani, Chicken Chaap and Firni (an Indian Dessert made with milk and powdered rice) from Shiraz.

If you are joining this series from this episode, then you have to bear with a bit of a repetition from the last episodes (doesn’t it always happen in movie sequels? The update of the prequel tend to eat up some reels of the sequel. Or in the television soaps where each segment after a small break typically feeds you with 10 minutes of the pre-break segment!) Also bear with me for not-that-good pictures – they are all shot in my smart phone, in dim lighting. My Nikon’s conked off during my recent Thailand Academy trip, probably a bit too much of rough handling in the small fishing island of Koh Klang, in South Thailand (Instagram above). The earlier posts capturing my Thai experience…
Ruen Mai Restaurant In Krabi | A Tantalising First Experience Of Thai Food {In Thailand, That is!
Koh Klang in Krabi, Thailand | A Photo Essay of An Island Life
Baan Ma-Yhing Restaurant In The Fishermen’s Village | Recipe of Thai Red Curry As We Cook ‘fresh catch’ Baramundi!


The Bengali New Year or the Poila Baishakh falls around 15th of April in Bengal while it is celebrated a day earlier in Bangladesh. Living outside Bengal however calls in for a lot more confusion. One Noboborsho or New Year greeting on Facebook and soon everyone’s pouring in their greetings – even if its days earlier than the original day. The end result? A prolonged Noboborsho celebration. For me, the Noboborsho celebration was also powered by the Thai Songkran festival and the Punjabi Baisakhi festival. Never say No to any celebration on offer! While I was being updated with the not-so-traditional celebrations back home over Skype this year, I have been trying to think –  how did we traditionally celebrate our Bengali New years anyway when we were growing up? The things that come to my mind are new clothes, good food and a school holiday. In Dubai, the tradition of buying new clothes during Durga Pujo, Noboborsho and Janmadin/Birthdays have given way to scheduling the shopping with the many shopping festivals that take place in Dubai – at least we are still upholding a bit of tradition by shopping during festivals! The Poila Baisakh weekend culminated in a huge party at a good friend’s place with food from Shiraz and Whiskey, the Bengali’s preferred spirited drink – courtesy our colonial heritage. It was good food, but not Bengali food. Biryani, Kebabs, Paya and Brain Curry with Parathas. And of course, one of my favourite topics of discussion – Galautis. This special form of Kebab which practically melts in the mouth, lends the name Galawati, meaning the one that melts. Galauti Kabab is minced meat round patty cooked over griddle, smoked with aromatic spices – traditionally, it can go up to 120 different spices. Interestingly, there is a new Indian fine dining restaurant in Dubai which can boast of a cook whose ancestors invented Galautis! Galauti is a speciality of Shiraz and they do their Galautis pretty well. Though I am not very fond of Paya and Brain Curry – not really my kind of great food, they did manage to get my friends into a stampede. In fact, the Paya and the Brain Curry, originally ordered as a part of the Main Course, didn’t survive long. They were polished off with Parathas as Starters! The only thing that was really ‘Bengali’ about our Poila Baishakh party was perhaps the Rôshogolla or the Rasgullas from Bikanervala. Rôshogolla is definitely one of the most famous of all Bengali sweets and my personal favourite. Not only have I written on them {Rôshogolla or Rasgulla – Bengali’s Own Sweet} but I’ve also made Rôshogolla on Dubai One, a local television  channel {Rasgulla Macapuno On TV & Shubho Bijoya to all!}. So that was us – NRBs (non resident Bongs) ushering in the year 1420 of the Bengali calendar. There has been a lot of jokes circulating around regarding the year being ‘420’…



Our weekend celebration with home delivery from Shiraz was followed by a subsequent visit to the restaurant 2 days later, for the Bengali Buffet. Apart from their standard Awadhi fare, a few Bengali dishes were there too (as promised in their Poster). These were Kasha Mangsho/Mutton cooked in Bengali style, Aloo Dum/Potato, Aloo Bhaja/Potato fritters, Beguni/Eggplant deep fried in batter, Moong Dal/Yellow Dal, Rui MaacherKalia/Rohu Fish Kalia, Chingrir Malai Curry/Prawn Malai Curry. As usual I fall into the trap of judging how authentic was the Bengali food? It’s like asking how good is the Paella served by a Fish and Chips restaurant. I’m biased – I don’t want to put Shiraz into judgement here {have been doing that for another Bengali Food festival in one of the award-winning Dubai restuarant} – I’m getting to eat Bengali food on a Bengali festive day – that’s good enough for me. The Rui Maacher Kalia or the Rohu fish Kalia and the Kasha Mangsho/Mutton slow cooked in Bengali style {my recipe of a *spirited* version of Kasha MangshoMutton Kassa With Red Wine And Red Grapes}, was really tasty – reminding me of the biyer bari version – oil and taste intact! These type of fish and mutton preparations used to be typically served in Bengali weddings, long before fusion and international blends came into the wedding menu! And I loved the jhurjhure Aloo Bhaja – crispy and crumbly, thin potato fritters. I always look forward to jhurjhure Aloo Bhaja – they liberate my mind, probably with the light, airy feeling that comes along whenever I eat them. And they did come in a new avatar – in two different shades of yellow and garnished with fried peanuts and coriander leaves Suggestion time – I would love to lick into my fingers at the end of the meal with some Chutney. And also can we have Rôshogolla instead of Gulab Jamun, or better still, in addition to Gulab Jamun {No objection here too, love Gulab Jamuns – a recipe here… Gulab Jamun Rabri}!

Shiraz Golden Restaurant – Awadhi (Indian), Casual Dining; The Poila Baishakh Buffet cost us Dhs 59/person
Tel No: +971 4 3589818, +971 4 3589322; Location: Al Abbas Building, Bank Street, Bur Dubai
For more info: Facebook

Bikanervala Indian Sweet Shop and Veg Restaurant
A few Bengali sweets are also sold here.
Tel No: Tel: +971 4 3968813 (Karama); +971 4 298703 (Food Court, Lulu Hyper Market, Quasis); +971 4 3695544 (Al Barsha)For more info: Website, Facebook, Twitter

My conversation on Twitter about Shiraz caught Ariana Bundy, the noted TV chef and author of ‘Pomegranates & Roses‘, which recently recently won the Best Asian Cookbook Award in the UK section of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2012. What I find interesting is how a simple discussion about the origin of Shiraz culminated into a discussion on Persian influence on Indian food and me trying to sell Shiraz’s Galauti Kababs to her on Twitter. And then a strange coincidence of her spotting Shiraz after our tweets brought led her to try food at Shiraz! 

I’ve also been guilty of celebrating my birthday (celebrating the current over-the-top age that I am, that is) at home with a Buffet spread from Shiraz. And I have to admit that the Galauti Kababs tasted absolutely divine with the red wine gifted by a dear friend – a reserve from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, one of the best French wine appellations in the southern part of the Rhône Valley. I’ve been keeping the concluding paragraph of the last few posts the same – as this is a series of posts following the same thought – celebrating festivals in Dubai. Although born into a Hindu family, my brother and I grew up in Kolkata, celebrating all festivals from all religion. So Eid would mean that we would flock to the homes of our Muslim friends and pestering their Mums whom we would address as Mashi/Aunt to refill our bowls of Shimuyer Payesh or Semayia/Sevaiya Pudding and ransack their kitchens for home-made Biriyanis and Laccha Parathas, a type of Indian flat bread, triangular in shape with multiple layers lapped with Ghee/Indian clarified butter. Or Christmas would mean attending midnight mass at St Paul’s Cathedral with my Christian friends and rip open my small gifts of fruit cakes that my Christian Mashis/Aunties would have prepared for me. I’ve reminisced all this nostalgia in an earlier post – Living By The Water With Sunset As Prop – Kolkata & the Ganges. It talks about the multicultural upbringing of my childhood that has shaped my own philosophies in life. That brings me to my question – What about you? Have you embraced any other festival from any other country or religion, apart from your own?

Unblogging it all… Ishita

Disclaimer: The opinions stated here are my own and are absolutely independent and none of the Shiraz meals or home deliveries have been freebies. I hope you enjoy reading the posts with lot of visuals but please do not use any material from this post. You can see more pictures of my travel and food journey here. It does take lot of effort to capture a food experience in text and pictures. While it’s meant for you to enjoy them, I request you not to use them!


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