Ajanta is a small Gujarati restaurant in Karama which serves one the most decent, and affordable thalis in town. Run by an Indian family, forced out of Somalia in the ‘80’s, the restaurant looks like it has maintained it’s original look and character (that’s the polite way of saying it really, really, really could do with a makeover).
An amazing thali is what I was promised, and that is what I got. Accompanied by a free flow of rotlo (roti made with millet), roti and the most delicious kitchree I have had in a long, long time, the ‘unlimited thali’ turned out to be quite a basic affair in comparison with Dubai thali heavyweights Rajdhani, Maharaja Bhog, and Rasoi Ghar. And it doesn’t have nearly any of their pomp and show. What it does have, however, is a homecooked honesty which could very well take you right back into your mother’s kitchen.
Gujarati hospitality comes as standard, so expect to be coaxed to have a little more. Leave your diet with the roadworks outside, enjoy seconds (or thirds), and no matter what, don’t say no to the ghee – everything tastes better with ghee, especially their delightful kitchree.
Ajanta isn’t just about thali because, in addition to a menu full of Gujarati specialities, they also offer a number of savoury snacks (including chaats and pani puri), and some amazing sweets, of which I was lucky enough to try their delicious, freshly made jelabies (or zulbia).
Ajanta is a hidden gem of a restaurant, and most certainly a book you should not judge by its cover.