“The past six months have been very good for us,” Chief Himanshu Saini said in a phone call. In February this year, the two restaurants he runs in Dubai, Trèsind and Trèsind Studio, ranked 18th and 4th respectively in the inaugural edition of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants in the Middle East and South Africa list. North. The laurels don’t stop there. Earlier this week, Trèsind Studio became the only Indian restaurant to win a Michelin star in the first-ever list published by the Dubai Restaurant Guide. “Every chef who enters the industry hopes to have their restaurant recognized by the guide,” he adds.
Saini’s restaurants have become an integral part of Dubai’s eclectic culinary ecosystem. The city serves as a canvas for chefs like him to deploy their creativity. “There is likely to be a lot more food tourism in Dubai. It is a melting point of so many nationalities and cultures. In some ways, it’s a tough market,” says Saini. It is not only the Indian palate that it has to satisfy in Dubai, but also the British, the French and the Americans. “Unfortunately, the West still perceives Indian cuisine as take-out curry. It is a challenge to change these notions, while being able to satisfy the various palates, and to keep the philosophy of Indian cuisine intact. find that balance,” he says.
At Trèsind Studio, a tasting menu-only concept, the offerings change every four months. One can find a mixture of comfort and imagination in Saini’s dishes. And yet, at no time does the menu become fanciful. In less than two and a half hours, Saini and his team take the guest on a journey through Indian cuisine.
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One of his signature dishes is a savory khandvi ice cream – a playful version of the snack available in street confectioneries. “An Indian restaurant would appreciate the complexity of the dish and the challenge of getting the flavors of a khandvi in an ice cream. However, for those who have no knowledge of a khandvi, it takes a different kind of conversation to show how innovation has been achieved in a dish,” says the 35-year-old chef. However, Indian or foreign, every guest now comes to Trèsind Studio expecting to see something new and imaginative.
Saini likes to showcase the complexity of spices in her cooking and move away from this misconception that Indian cooking is all about heat. Rather, it wants to celebrate the blend of aromas and flavors that spices can infuse into a dish. “For anyone who is not Indian, it is difficult to understand how a galouti kebab can have a mixture of 16-17 spices. But this complexity is so beautiful,” he adds.
For his new menu, the young chef will create four mini-menus within a larger menu, dividing it into north, south, east and west. It will be like a culinary exploration, with the team taking guests to different parts of India. From the aesthetics of the table to the ambiance of the menu, everything will contribute to this experience. “We will start with a northern experience with five courses, ending with a dessert. The menu will then move on to the next part of the country,” says Saini. “How is a pani puri in Kolkata different from Mumbai? What is the diversity of dishes when moving from east to west or from north to south? I find these aspects interesting and I try to highlight them in my menus.
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