Coriander: Authentic Indian cuisine in Al Ain

Photo May 31, 15 20 39The oasis of Al Ain, located deep in the Arabian desert near the United Arab Emirates’ border with Oman, is home to towering dunes, palm trees that produce some of the best dates in the region, and plenty of camels wandering the red sands that surround the city.

Al Ain – a good two-hour drive inland from either Abu Dhabi or Dubai – might be the last place you’d expect to find good Indian cuisine (or any good food at all, for that matter).

But curry-lovers wandering in the desert rejoice: there is a modern and upscale restaurant in Al Ain that serves authentic, sumptuous Indian food that will likely defy your expectations.

It’s called Coriander, an independently-owned Indian eatery that opened in 2010 in the Bawadi shopping mall on the outskirts of Al Ain. Coriander shares an open-air courtyard with three other restaurants inside the mall, but there is also an enclosed, air-conditioned seating area.

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Indian street food in an Abu Dhabi shopping mall

20140417-185021.jpgYou don’t normally walk into a shopping mall food court expecting to find delicious, healthy food.

Especially if that mall is the Madinat Zayed Shopping Center, one of the oldest enclosed shopping malls in the United Arab Emirates. Madinat Zayed feels very long-in-the-tooth for an ultra-modern capital like Abu Dhabi. Aside from its dozens of Indian-run gold shops, the mall offers little for most shoppers. There are a few perfume kiosks and plenty of stores peddling cheap, Chinese-made electronics.

The mall’s second floor food court is home to several American-style burger joints, as well as the uninspiring Biryani Hut and ChicKing, where most of the food is deep-fried.

But Madinat Zayed, perhaps surprisingly, is also home to what is quite possibly the finest Indian restaurant in the entire Middle East.

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