Like most other teenagers at the NYU Abu Dhabi, I soon found myself grumbling about the dining hall’s limited options and the market place’s unreasonable timings.
Gone was the incredible enthusiasm that had consumed me on Candidate Weekend as I shamelessly sent images of my pretty smoked salmon and iceberg lettuce filled salad plate to literally everyone I held dear. (Yes I am that person who unapologetically whips out her camera in simple aesthetic appreciation of a filling, nutritious lunch).
But as grateful as I am for the variety of salads offered at the dining hall, there are only so many leaves a girl (especially an Indian girl raised on tandoored everything) can consume. And no, dal tadka is not my poison of choice.
Electra Street’s food reviewing assignment fell neatly into my lap, just as I was helping myself to more raw sushi from the marketplace.
I spent the rest of the week in a zomato.com induced haze, repeatedly searching for “Indian,” “Healthy,” “Budget friendly,” and “Veggie” options in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
When I found Bite Rite, which prided itself on being a healthy Indian restaurant, I pored over the menu for the better part of an hour. That was perhaps time I should have spent studying something in my actual syllabus, but it turned out to be as rewarding as most of my prescribed reading.
I salivated as I read the 14-page long menu (which has the calorie content of each dish printed next to it, so you know whether you’re making a healthy choice or not), skipping over the salads section completely to the curries and the flatbreads offered. They claimed to have real Indian Chapattis and the mélange of masala-coated ,healthy cooked vegetables that my taste buds have been aching for since the beginning of the semester.
It also bore testament to how little we knew about the city, how much we were lacking in forethought before this excursion on Eid and how badly we wanted to eat a home cooked meal.
Fortunately enough, a kind taxi driver directed us to the actual Bite Rite opposite the Abu Dhabi bus station, where we found ourselves 30 dirhams later.
We walked into the café feeling like complete fools for having spent half our money earmarked for the week’s activities on cab fare all over Abu Dhabi due to rash spontaneity, but we walked out of there with the biggest smiles on our faces and the happy glow that only manifests after consuming a satisfying repast.
With every spoon of Goan fish curry soaked rice, I found myself closer to my grandmother and her tangy, coconutty cooking. My muscles and my taste buds rejoiced as I chewed each bite of the whole-wheat chapatti with potatoes and masala coated capsicum, the spiciness of which was perfectly balanced by the cooling cucumber raita.
My Syrian companion ordered a healthy version of a Spaghetti Arabiatta while the Indian one almost had a spiritual relationship with his generous portion of paalak paneer (tofu and spinach cooked with spices).
The kicker was this – the entire meal worked out to 30 dirhams per person.
We left, arms groaning with the weight of packed chapattis for the week, with the promise of returning as soon as possible and the name ‘Bite Rite’ like a magical incantation on our lips.