Last weekend, I caught up with my childhood friend Sara and her gorgeous little girls at Moombai & Co at H Hotel, Dubai. The retro-style Bollywood inspired venue had me awestruck the very first time we visited, and still holds its magic every time I’ve visited since.
Adding to the gastronomic charm of the place is the headline
news that Moombai & Co has now been taken over by celebrity chef and
restauranteur Hari Nayak. Chef Hari Nayak is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and has
worked across the United States, the UK and Paris reintroducing the culinary
art of Indian cuisine in a more simplistic, globally viable format.
Chef Hari is the brainchild
behind the very popular Indian restaurants Masti and Bombay Bungalow, and was therefore
pretty excited to see what he had in store for us as his debut at Moombai &
However, as many of you are
aware, I am on the Keto diet this month! I was challenging myself to enjoy the
most of it and restrain from the Keto no-no’s. Here’s a rundown on what we were
Pulled Lamb Raan Tacos: These are no ordinary tacos.
The shells are made of crisp Punjabi Makki Ki Roti, and is stuffed with the
most succulent pulled lamb. The flavors are further accentuated with generous
drizzles of a rich cheese sauce.
Tandoori Malai Broccoli: An unusual vegetable on an
Indian table yet made to taste so Desi in a Tandoori avatar. The broccoli flowerets
are charred in an Indian oven and served with a rich cream sauce.
Corn Bhel Puri: The classic Bhel Puri gets a ‘corny’
makeover with the use of fresh corn kernels. Still chatpatta good, and with
generous quantities of roasted peanuts.
Hash Brown Aloo Tikki: The humble potato is loved equally
East and West. The Western Hash Brown gets an Indian upgrade with a decadent
stuffing and a pool of sweet yoghurt to boot.
Calicut Prawns: Inspired by the cuisines of South
India, these deliciously plump king prawns sit on a pool of mildly sweet, delicately
spiced coconut milk gravy. This was my personal favorite.
A post shared by Moombai & Co. (@moombaidxb) on Jun 18, 2019 at 7:38am PDT
Ossobocco Lamb Rogan Josh: I am a big fan of rogan
josh, but sadly this dish let me down. It didn’t have the fiery hit of chili
you would expect in this classic curry, and the meat could have been softer
Chicken Berry Biryani: A fragrant rice pilaf
featuring long-grain rice, very moist, well marinated chicken and a handful of
berry tartness for a new flavor dimension on an old favorite. We loved this
dish, as did the kids.
Blackened Barfi Tart: Love a good barfi? Imagine it
in pie form, in a decadently crumbly buttery crust, topped with a scoop of
vanilla ice-cream. This dessert was wiped clean off the plate in record time.
Rasgulla Chocolate Cheesecake: Yet another East married
with the West sweetness that works so beautifully well. This cheesecake is
dense and dark, and a scoop of cardamom flavored ice-cream acts as a respite on
the side. A surprise twist is finding spongy rasgulla at the center. Delicious,
yet a little too sweet. Best for sharing.
Through it all, we sipped on deliciously sweet, thick Mango
Lassi and chilled glasses of Ananas ka Ras (fresh pineapple juice with a pinch
of chaat masala).
Overall, it was an afternoon well spent in the stunning
retro-style backdrop of Moombai Dubai. The new menu by Chef Hari is such a
clever twist of East and West, and I will surely be coming back for more.
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I started Week 2 with much enthusiasm after the unprecedented
success of Week 1 (I lost 2 kilos in fat, by eating fat! And that too with no rigorous
exercise). However, the weight loss has been very slow this week. It’s like my
body’s trying to hold on to the good old lard and forcing me to go back to my
Nutella smeared bagels.
But with a great deal of willpower and the positive vibes from
my Keto buddy Rasha, I kept at it. Not a single gram of carb goes through my
mouth unaccounted for. Not a single day does my carb intake exceed 25 grams.
And then there were other factors that kept me going:
People are taking notice: My daughter’s
babysitter, bless her heart, has a no-filter mouth and seems to gauge my weight
fluctuations better than my scales. And the other day she asks me “What are you
doing? You look so slim, and your face looks so small.” Thank-you Keto!
We did the Keto urine test: Rasha bought
the Keto urine test strips from Amazon.ae The only form of urine strips I’ve
used before were in a pregnancy test kit, and this was just as exciting! Both
Rasha and I scored 8 as you can see below. Our bodies are definitely ketone heavy
and going into ketosis! To fool-proof it, Rasha let her Hubby try one and he
came clean and clear.
They say it can take up to a month to get the body in the
state of ketosis (when the body is starved of carbs, and starts burning fat as
fuel), but looks like my girl and I are on a roll here! However, when I posted
this result on Keto Nation UAE, a Facebook support group we joined, we got many
concerned replies saying we are far too high on ketones and need to hydrate
more. I drink over 2 litres a day, but apparently, I am low on electrolytes.
So I’ve started having a special lemonade every morning:
Tezzy’s Himalayan Pink Salt LemonadeRecipe
Juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup ginger juice (I make a batch of this over
the weekend where I boil half a kilo of ginger in a liter of water, strain and
store in the fridge)
1 tablespoon Himalayan Pink Salt (do NOT try
this with ordinary salt. The idea is to feed your body 5000mg sodium a day)
1 liter water
I put it all together in a sippy bottle and have this
lemonade throughout the day. Hoping to see a milder color result on my next
keto urine test strip.
I also started having the much talked about Bullet Coffee!
We are depriving our bodies of quite a few essential nutrients
on this diet, yet I was skeptical about the amount of carbs or added sugars a
supplement might have.
Happy to see my good old bottle of Solgar’s VM 75 is Keto friendly too! I take 1 tablet after my evening meal. Click here for more information.
Eating Out on Keto
One of the biggest challenges when on any diet is eating
out. Eating out is a way of life in the UAE. We are spoilt for choice with the
plethora of dining options, and it’s the best way to socialize with friends and
family. I was dreading these and cancelled quite a few food reviews as well. Life
on Keto does not have to be restrictive. Its all about ordering smartly. Here’s
some interesting finds:
The Burger Bash: I was a Shake Shack with my burger-munching
colleagues. Rasha and I ordered the double cheeseburger without the bun. We
asked for a lettuce wrap instead. Yes, its Keto friendly! Here’s the Macros:
Fat 36 grams
Carbs 1 gram
Protein 44 grams
I am planning to fly out for a short break soon, and that will be the real challenge. Hoping to be very good this week, fingers crossed!
I’ve been off an on the dieting bandwagon for as long as I
can remember, and rarely have I succeeded at sustainable results.
The buzzword ‘Keto’ caught my fancy quite a few months ago,
and I could see the radically positive change it was having on quite a few
people in my circle. I was intrigued, yet all the jargon around macros had me
A casual chat over a work lunch with my colleague Rasha got
us started. We are both Keto newbies and decided to start this journey together.
So What is the Keto Diet?
The Keto Diet is a high fat and extremely low carb diet. More
than calories, you are encouraged to up the fat in your diet and really limit your
But wouldn’t eating more fat make you fatter?
The idea behind the keto diet is to make the body reach the state of ketogenesis.
When you starve the body of carbohydrates, the body automatically starts
burning its fat reserves.
Getting the body in a ketogenetic state has a number of healthful
benefits. Apart from weight loss and fat burning, a keto diet promises to lower
blood pressure and blood sugar, as well as overall triglyceride levels.
When on a Keto Diet, your Macros are more important than
The macros I have been aiming to achieve are as follows:
95 grams fat*
55 grams protein
20 grams (or less) carbs
I am doing this within a 1,200 daily calorie limit.
To find your macros, here’s a couple of free handy online
*Remember not all fats are created equal! The keto diet relies
on ‘good’ fat. I’ll leave out the details for another post, but here’s a list
of high-fat items that will see you reaching your fat intake goals:
Ghee (clarified butter. Great for vegans and the dairy-intolerant)
Organic Coconut Oil
Various Cheeses (my favorites are aged cheddar, haloumi and
How I Started the Keto Diet
Get Tracking: I downloaded Carb Calculator,
a free mobile app and religiously inputted everything I ate for every meal. I
even used this app to figure out the macros of popular food items, and to plan
out my meals beforehand. It really is a very handy app.
Talk to Those in the Know: I
talked to people who’ve enjoyed Keto success. My sister in-law Sharmin introduced
me to the Carb Calculator. She also shared a number of handy contacts of
suppliers selling keto-friendly snacks and meals. My friend Jason Dalmeida simplified
all the yucky maths involved and worked out the ideal macros for me. I also
joined a few Keto Facebook groups for inspiration.
Make a Keto Friend: I started this journey with
my colleague Rasha. We compare notes constantly and share any new knowledge that
comes our way with each other. We cheer each other on. I don’t think I would
have ever started without her.
Get Your Meals Organized: I am a working mum,
and super lazy with prepping my own meals. I do 9-hour weekdays at a sedentary
desk job, and often find myself ordering takeaways for lunch. The Keto Diet has
been a game changer in this respect. I cook a few meals over the weekend and have
been finding quick and easy prep meals to see me through the rest of the time.
Surprisingly, putting together a Keto-friendly meal is super easy, and can be
super delicious too!
Shopping List: Once you’ve explored a few
quick and easy recipes, its essential to work on that Keto-friendly shopping
list and stock the pantry with plenty of heathy ingredients to keep you
encouraged. Variety is key. Get experimental in the kitchen. Just remember to diligently
keep track of your macros.
Super Easy Keto Meals
After a week of Keto, I’ve got a few go-to recipes that are
super easy to whip up and I dare say, taste pretty awesome too! Go on, give
these a try:
Keto Egg Salad: Mash up 2 boiled eggs with a whole avocado. Add a tablespoon of ghee. Season with Himalayan Salt and cracked pepper.
Cheesy Omlette: Heat a pan and add a tablespoon of ghee. Beat 2 eggs in a bowl, and season with Himalayan Salt. Pour onto the hot pan. Add 100 grams of chopped up Roomy Cheese and add a handful of fresh spinach. Fold omlette and cook on both sides till done.
Cauliflower Rice: I’ve used this as a base for many of my meals to make them more substantial, and to add much-needed fiber. I washed an entire cauliflower and whizzed it up into ‘rice’ in my food processor. I heated a tablespoon of ghee in a large pot and added a teaspoon of Nigella seeds for flavor depth. I then stir-fried the ‘rice’, and covered the pot till semi-done. I divided the rice into 1-cup portions and stored them in flattened sandwich bags that I froze in the freezer for easy storage and usage. They can last up to 2 weeks.
Minced Beef: Look for high-fat mince to get your fat intake in sync. Minced meat is a super easy option to stir-fry for any meal. Personalize it with your favorite condiments. I love mine with loads of chili flakes.
Fish Fillet: I get my fillet portioned into 200 grams at the fish monger’s. I marinated each fillet with different marinades. I did one with chili powder, cumin, coriander and garlic. I did another with a dash of soya sauce, minced garlic and chili flakes. Let your imagination run wild. Let them marinate for 20 minutes or so, then freeze. Cook on a hot pan right out of the freezer for a quick and hassle-free weeknight dinner.
Keto Diet Challenges
Limiting the Protein: This
has been the hardest macro to keep in track. I am planning to try ‘fat fasting’
soon to counteract this.
Eating Out: I am
a food blogger, and weekends are always booked out with reviews. I had to
cancel a few this week. Getting my priorities right… for the time being.
Social Pressure: I
did have a lunch date with friends. We were dining at an Indian restaurant, and
I had to watch them eat my favorite meals while I nibbled on an appetizer platter
of seasoned paneer.
Keto Diet Week 1 Insights
The key to keeping on track is to be super organized. Shop for the week in advance, keep a few meals in the freezer for easy reach.
Keep track of your macros diligently.
It’s great to have a Keto friend with whom you can share your triumphs and woes, tips and recipes.
The Keto diet allows for absolutely delicious meals. I love how I can eat ghee with most of my meals and still loose weight!
Keto teaches you to feel satiated without the bloat. I am full most of the time with my high-fat meals that are small packs of energy without the bulk.
Keto Diet Week 1 Results
I lost 2 kilograms! And that too without any strenuous exercise.
This result is really encouraging. Bring it on Week 2!
Last week, we spent a whimsical afternoon at newly opened Kulture House Dubai. Part café, part art house, part florist and fashion haven, this lifestyle hub is a unique homegrown concept that got us click-happy as soon as we set foot inside.
Taking inspiration from an amalgamation of world cultures
including Russia, South America, Morocco, Africa and the Middle East, the
interiors here are absolutely magical.
Tiled floor art and rattan finishes.
The giant Russian Doll
Framed art showcasing various cultures as well as special photos of UAE royalty.
If you love quirky fashion finds, Kulture House Dubai is the place for you. They stock unique pieces by local designers, and I came home with this Arabesque jacket by Ragmatazz.
How do you like this jacket? Check out more quirky styles on the Ragmatazz Instagram account by clicking here.
If you are a collector of art, you will love browsing
through the mini gallery featuring Middle Eastern artists managed by Pro Art Gallery.
Homegrown florist takes up a corner and puts together
personalized bouquets as per your requirements.
And they also stock an impressive range of home décor,
kitchen gadgets, toiletries and more from all over the world.
Dining areas are set up across the area. From cozy corners
to a large majlis-style table complete with Bedouin cushions, Kulture House
Dubai can cater to both small and large groups.
The Majlis-style table, great to a large crowd.
The menu is simple yet healthful. They have an all-day
breakfast section from which we tried a number of items including the Avocado on
Toast with Pomegranate Hummus, and a very photogenic Acai Bowl.
My daughter loves fish fingers and enjoyed her plate of
salmon fish fingers served on a bed of mashed potato and peas.
I loved the earthy, grainy hummus served at Kulture Klub
Dubai. We had the version that is topped with fried cauliflower, and the
highlight of this dish was the contrasting sourness of the pomegranate syrup
that was drizzled into the middle.
I washed it all down with a beautifully scented Coconut
& Lavender Mocktail. My daughter had a Lychee & Rose Mocktail. Both
drinks were so dainty and full of aromatic flavor.
Coffee at Kulture House Dubai is sourced from Dubai-based
Encounter Coffee, and their range of organic teas are from Avantcha.