There is more to Lebanese food than shawarma, and Rrala’s Habibi is making a game effort at offering it

One cuisine variety that has the potential to be the next favourite of Delhiites is definitely that of West Asia. Regions such as Morocco, Lebanon, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia have some unique spices which go well with the Indian palate. The result is the increasing number of shawarma roll outlets in Delhi. Why only shawarma rolls? Well, just as South Indian food means idli and dosai to the average Delhiite, and Chinese spells chowmein, Lebanese food comprises simply shawarma rolls! However, the cuisine has much more to explore. And finally, an entrepreneur like Rajan Madhu has come up with a dedicated fine dining restaurant focusing on the cuisine and given it a name that quite resonates with the region: Rrala’s Habibi.

This is located on the third floor of MGF Metropolitan Mall, Saket, and in a way has brought life to the dying mall. Its ambience has the calmness of entering a harem. Splendidly spread across 14,000 sq ft it reflects the Arabic culture with some beautifully crafted jali work, chrome accessories and a traditional lower sitting area called majlis.

Chef Ratib Al Griwti brings loads of experience with him to the kitchen. I decided the traditional Moroccan Harira soup was one of the safest bets to test his skills. Unfortunately my soup came less hot than I would have preferred and also missed out on the aroma of spices as well. But I can understand as the kitchen is only in its second week, and some settling in time is required. As suggested I followed it up with some hot and cold mezze. I loved the dips, specially Mohamara and Baba Ghanoush.

The hummus needed a bit more of extra virgin olive oil for the fragrance. The falafel was good and crunchy but the kibbeh, one of the preferred lamb preparations, seemed to have a dry core. The lamb majbous, a rice dish, was decent but the much awaited lamb tagine with cous cous was a disappointment. The quality of the lamb was below average and even the cous cous was not cooked to the right degree. Secondly, how can a tagine delicacy be cooked in any other vessel? All the flavours and nutrition go for a toss if it is not cooked in a tagine pot.

As for desserts, Rrala’s Habibi’s baklava, mouhalabiya and um ali were among the best desserts I have come across recently in Delhi. Surely a reason to come back again and again.

Meal for two: Rs.3500

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