Nestled in the heart of Parklands and known to many as a landmark of the area is the Diamond Plaza Shopping Centre. It carries a number of shops, stalls and restaurants, all of which boast a strong culture that one cannot help but fall in love with. As you walk through the pathways across the shopping center, your eyes are caught by the colourful saris on display and your nose is hit by the inviting scent of flavors which lead you to the different cuisines the place has to offer. Thus leading to my main topic and what put this place in my heart – which of course is through my gigantic stomach.
Diamond Plaza known commonly as DP offers a number of eating options as the foodie explores Asian cuisine – I phrase it like this as one has the option of fine dining in a high-end restaurant perfect for a dinner date, sitting in a food court giving the eater a large variety of options all at one place, or just ‘doing’ street food (one can literally eat as they walk and go about their other affairs). To highlight everything there is I will try to classify them as follows:
1.Indian BBQ. This, I have to say, is amongst my favourites and includes mains the likes of:
• Chicken Tikka: this is a roasted chicken tikka following being marinated overnight in a mix of spices giving a perfect blend of spicy, tangy and chilly in the perfect ratio (PS: spicy does not equal chilly)
• Chooza Chicken: this is what I would describe as a chicken tikka taken even further with a chooza sauce added on the chicken tikka which intensifies the flavour for a mouthwatering bite of juicy tangy chicken.
• Mshkhaki: those familiar to coastal cuisine will know this. These are small bites of skewered meat which having been marinated overnight then roasted over an open flame, providing bites filled with flavour.
• Poussin chicken: the best way I can describe pousin is a buttery sauce added with red chilli filled giving a rich buttery flavour combined with elements of spice.
To the vegetarians you’re covered as well. For all the options I have mentioned above there is a vegetarian option for each ranging from paneer tikka to poussin paneer. Fish options available as well and I must add that the chooza fish is a must try for all the seafood lovers. Sides for these dishes include; breads such as butter naan, cheese naan and my favourite being garlic naan; chips such as everyone’s favourite masala chips, garlic chips, chilli chips and poussin chips.
2.Curries If in the mood of full hearty meal that not only provides nutrition to the body but feeds the soul, a must have is an Indian curry which is filled with exotic flavors, best had with either rice or naan. Here are a few examples of my favourite curries which I feel are a must try for those who have never had an Indian curry:
•Malai kofta: anyone who knows me would be shocked that this vegetarian dish is first on my list, knowing that I am a big meat eater, but that just tells you how good this is! The dish is basically a kofta (vegetarian meatball) in a creamy sauce with bits of paneer. The result is a bite with a mix of textures between the firmness of the naan used to grab the curry with the softness of the kofta and chewiness of the paneer together with a juiciness from the liquid part of the curry. Heavenly is the only word that can describe the experience.
• Butter chicken: here is another favourite dish for many. It is basically chicken in a creamy buttery yet spicy curry.
3.Fast food and Street food.This is not just your mainstream burgers and hotdogs but this just shows how diverse street food and fast food in general can be. Here are some examples:
• Maru’s Bhajias: these are the classic bhajias that are addictively flavour filled. I find what makes these bhajias even better, not only accentuating their flavors but also adding texture and a freshness to each bite, are the sauces with which they come. You get a tomato chutney, as well as a tamarind sauce…which, well, will make you question the bhajias you’ve been eating all your life.
• Chaats: here’s one a good friend and fellow RESPEKT member has got me hooked on. Chaats are a group of starters which include Pani Puris, Dahi Puris and Sev Puris. There are more types of chaat but these mentioned are my personal favorites. They are basically bite sized crispy packages filled with different fillings such as chickpeas, potatoes and other vegies topped with other sauces including a spicy mint sauce, tamarind sauce and yoghurt. The end result of this is a crispy bite leading to this instant burst of flavors which fill every taste receptor in your oral cavity as well as this combined mix of textures and temperatures from each ingredient. Words do not exist to adequately express this experience.
• Dabeli: this is another dish that friends introduced me to. The best way I can describe it is, it is a flavorful mix of veggies in different forms almost like the chaats I mentioned above, within the softest bread buns one can find. Satisfaction meets satiety here. • Waffles on the go: The beauty of DP is it’s not just Indian culture one is exposed to – there’s a waffle stand which offers a variety of amazing rich Belgian waffle flavors some of my favorites include the red velvet waffle and chocolate brownie waffles. Best part is the waffles are fully vegetarian.
4.Drinks. Of course any good meal requires a good drink to take it down. However with the variety of drinks here, a good drink can be a meal on its own. Milks here range from nice refreshing thirst quencher on a hot day to a thick drink offering comfort for the soul.
• Fruit juices: there are a number of fresh fruit juices that can be had here such as the classics which are; passion, orange, tangerine, tree tomato etc. Then there are the mixtures which elevate the flavors of the individual fruits when combined with others such as orange-tangerine, mint-pineapple and a special one known as ganga jamuna which is a perfect mix of orange and lime. Finally, there’s the option of getting different mixes of freshly squeezed sugarcane juice which can be mixed with ginger and/or lime providing the perfect refreshing drink on a hot day when ice cold.
• Milkshakes: other than the classic milkshake flavors that everyone knows of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry; the mix of cultures allows for more flavors such as pista, kulfi, tutti frutti and so many others which have to be seen for oneself.
• Lassi: The only way I know how to describe this is a spicy yet tangy milk-based drink which can either be sweet or salty. Some restaurants take this further and make even more flavors such as a favorite being mango lassi.
• Indian sodas: these are a variety of different flavors of sodas whereby different spices are added to the carbonated drinks some adding the perfect blend of sweet and savory with a kick in the drink. Now for the best part of any meal is dessert and does not fail to disappoint here either. These range from classical cakes and pastries to exotic ice creams and cold desserts.
•Kulfi: this is an ice cream flavour that will make you wonder where it has been all your life. It is a thick creamy, smooth ice cream made with different exotic nuts creating a sweet exotic flavour that is a must try.
• Falooda: this is the original freakshake way before the westerners discovered it with a variety of different textures and flavour profiles with different toppings and additives as well as rose syrup which can be had on its own as a hearty meal providing comfort food or for one with an appetite like mine, is the perfect end to a meal.
• Shrikhand: this is a sweet thick yoghurt-like dessert which is smooth and creamy with a variety of flavors intertwined for a burst of flavors per dollop.
• Jalebi: this is a very sweet crunchy fried treat for anyone with a sweet tooth.
• Mithai: this is a variety of indian sweets each with their own unique flavors which normally are normally served during special occasions.
• Rolled ice cream: the name says it all and I must say the combined flavors plus mixed textures provide for an amazing experience thereby giving a new take on everyone’s favourite dessert.
And the best thing about all this, is it’s a place where friends can come together and have a good time