In a NUtshell:
A restaurant of a different kind – sit on the floor, eat YUMM Mandi and other items from a common plate with your own friends and family and if alone, with strangers.
Address & other details: mataam al arabi
Meal for 2: ₹350 onwards
Cuisine type : non vegetarians
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1 Mandi is enough for 2-3 people.
I rate all the food items & then give a final overall rating which is a simple average of the individual item ratings. What the ratings stand for: 5 = Excellent, 4 = Very Good, 3 = Good, 2 = Fair, 1 = Disaster
Short description- in case u r in a hurry:
We heard about this eatery from our foodie friend chowder Singh. His praise for this Yemeni food place made us add it to the list of places to go.
We got to know that this was the first restaurant of its kind and later many more Mandi restaurants came up.
The restaurant had 2 floors. The ground floor was where all stags were being directed to. I peeped in and saw loads of people sitting on the floor, around huge common plates and eating from them.
We were shown the basement floor. The floor had quite a few (I guess 12) cubicles with temporary partition. We initially had to wait at the common lobby before we were allocated one.
The cubicle had mattress on the floor and guests were sitting on the mattresses with folded legs. The large thaal (metal plate ) was being placed atop small 1 ft high plastic tables. Guests were eating out of the plate – sharing. The cubicles doors were covered with a curtain, to maintain privacy.
A serving boy was allocated to each cubicle. He would come on his own at certain intervals and ask for instructions. There was no way (like a bell in Korean family rooms) to call the guy of guest needed to …. other than walking out to the lobby and calling him.
Quite an experience I must say.
There was no menu card. The boy was verbally communicating the small menu.
Food was very enjoyable.
Detailed description- in case u hv the time to njoy reading:
From chowder Singh we had got to know about the signature dish of this place – Mandi. We had no idea how it would look like and we just ordered it.
As we sat, a huge metal plate full of food arrived , which at first sight looked like 4 people’s food. However as we dug into it, we realized that the layer of rice was less and actually not as much as it looked like. Good for 2 people with heavy appetite and 3 people with moderate appetite.
Mandi is the Yemeni version of biryani – meat and rice cooked together. Unlike the biryani, the spices were minimal and flavours of spices was very subtle. The flavours of meat had beautifully permeated thE rice.
The meat pieces were heavenly. They retained 100% meat flavor, were juicy and super soft and outstanding to taste. One of the best ‘meat in rice’ I have had this year. The pieces were chunky and contained optimum amount of fat, to enhance the softness, taste and flavours. Rate it 4.95/5.
The rice was of the long grain variety. It was aromatic, independent and tasty on its own (subtle than Lucknowi biryani and way more subtle than Hyderabadi/ dindigul/ Donne biryani). The softness of the rice was suboptimal as compared to the best Lucknowi biryani rice. The amount of fat in rice (equivalent to ghee in Lucknowi biryani) was also relatively less. Thus the rice was relatively dry when I Wud chew it. RAte the rice 3.5/5
The rice came with a super tangy, hot n spicy chutney that people mix with the subtle biryani as per taste. Loved the chutney. Though I had most of the rice without the chutney to make sure I enjoyed the meaty flavours of the rice. Rate the chutney 4/5
Overall rating of Mandi averages out to 4.2/5
Batair (quail bird) fry was outstanding. Super soft and juicy meat with good flavours of spices on the outer layer. Perfect seasoning. We just cud not stop eating it. Rate it 4.95/5. One of the best Batairs I hv had in a while.
Jeera drink was a bottled one. It was as robust as it could be. Good balance of sweet sour and salt. I was told this is available at paan shops in old hyderabad- serves its purpose well after a heavy meaty meal.
We had Double ka meetha as dessert. For the uninitiated, this is a traditional Hyderabadi dessert with bread as the base and sweetened reduced milk atop. Double ka meetha here was a bit over sweet though it had a pinch of salt. The texture was good. Taste was nice. Rate it 2.5/5
Overall rating of food at mataam al arabi averages out to 3.8/5.
As you realise the rating fell due to the dessert. If u just drop it and concentrate on the main food, u will love it.
Definitely worth a visit