Masala Library: “delicious food and déjà vu”
Sometimes in life, you find the right partner. A person that makes you feel special.
You laugh, you love, you move to a new city and into a new home (in a fancy hotel, no less).
But then something happens. Something terrible, and all of a sudden you just can’t see that person in the same light.
So you take a clean break. You move on. And over time, you start to develop feelings for someone else. After a couple of months you move in together and everything is good – just like it once was.
Except, then it hits you: you’ve fallen for the exact same person, your ex - just with a different name.
If the story above seems familiar, then you might want to reassess what makes you feel happy and valued inside. Or, you are in fact the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai.
In 2018, the world’s second-highest hotel announced that it was cutting all ties with celebrity chef, Atul Kochar over a ‘hasty’ remark sent on Twitter.
It removed his name from its Indian restaurant Rang Mahal – which was known for its traditional Indian recipes but with a contemporary twist (and molecular gastronomy) - and closed the venue six months later.
But this is a love story, and in March of 2019, the hotel opened a new restaurant with help from (the late) Jiggs Kalra, the pioneering food columnist and consultant. Masala Library – which is known for its traditional Indian recipes but with a contemporary twist (and molecular gastronomy) – occupies the same space as Rang Mahal.
It has the same floor-to-ceiling windows. The same open kitchen. And the same huge orange painting of an Indian princess on the wall.
So, almost a year later has the JW Marriot Marquis truly moved on from a turbulent relationship? Or simply fallen for its ex?
Masala Library: What’s the vibe?
Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra boasts floor-to-ceiling windows and a huge orange painting on the wall of an Indian princess. There’s a hefty dose of déjà vu in the air, but one that quickly disperses the nearer you sit to the open kitchen.
The restaurant is enormous, spanning a large bar area and a sitting room with columns that stand two-floors tall. When full, it’s quite the atmosphere but on a slow day, that huge dining room feels empty.
Fortunately, there’s always a friendly member of staff (or three) to talk to.
Masala Library: How’s the food?
Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra is known for its traditional Indian recipes but with a contemporary twist (and molecular gastronomy). It’s totally new but familiar at the same time.
While the restaurant offers a standard menu, it’s the twelve-course tasting menu that most interests – a culinary tour of some of India’s best-known regions via the medium of food. However, the kitchen takes great pains to modernise just about every dish in some way (expect liquid nitrogen galore).
It’s interesting, and while many tasting menus can go a little overboard in quantity the one here is just right (one signature dish is just a simple chocolate truffle, albeit one that floats above your plate).
The restaurant gets bonus points for having a totally vegetarian option of its tasting menu (a true rarity in Dubai).
Masala Library: The verdict?
If the heavy-handed introduction to this review went over the head, we’ll spell it out:
Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra is more similar than it is different to the JW Marriot Marquis’s last Indian restaurant. Is that a bad thing? Absolutely not.
The food is as delicious and inventive as it always has been, and while we’d prefer it to have had a visual update since the break-up, you can’t really judge a restaurant by its décor.
At least not in a loving relationship, anyway.
For more information, head to JW Marriot Marquis Life