Baraabaru: Simply “Excellent” Cuisine at Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa

Four Seasons Kuda Huraa – At the northwestern edge of Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa, occupying a dramatic Kerala-inspired pavilion and torch-lit overwater deck, sits one of the world’s top Indian restaurants.

Recognized as one of the 101 Best Hotel Restaurants by The Daily Meal, USA in 2012, Baraabaru – meaning “excellent” in the local language, Dhivehi – also played a role in Kuda Huraa’s placement as Best Hotel for Food: Africa, Middle East and Indian Ocean in theCondé Nast Traveller UK’s 2012 Annual Gold List.

It’s a classy yet laid-back establishment, with an atmosphere as notable as the food. And as its name suggests, the food is remarkable indeed.

The menu focuses entirely on made-to-order homestyle Indian cuisine. From the kebabs and charcoal tandoors of the North to the curries and spices of the South, the emphasis is on fresh, authentic flavours. Of more than 100 dishes on the menu, more than half are vegetarian, with many of those inspired by the recipes of the father and grandmother of Baraabaru’s own Chef Kapil Sharma – a Punjabi-born culinarian with a particular prowess for Sattvic, Jain, vegan and organic cuisine, all of which feature heavily on the menu.

“At Baraabaru, we’re all about homestyle authenticity, not fusion,” explains Chef Kapil. “That means fresh food, with as little fat and oil as possible. It’s very light and easy to digest. It keeps the flavours. And it replicates the traditional habits of making food fresh from scratch on a daily basis. Focusing on just this one element enables us to do it very well.”

To help ensure optimum authenticity, Baraabaru sources raw organic spices from nearby Kerala, in addition to lamb from organic farms in India. “The source of our ingredients is essential,” adds Chef Kapil, whose upbringing included producing the family’s own organic milk, butter, cheese and yoghurt. “It’s my target to always use the best available produce.”

In addition, a philosophy of “cooking to order” enables Baraabaru to offer its guests an elevated level of customization and flexibility. Individual diners are always asked their “spice levels” so that their dish can be tailored accordingly, while the restaurant’s chefs will happily accommodate requests for different meats or ingredients than those detailed on the menu. “Just like at home, guests have the option to tailor their exact preferences,” explains Kapil. “We want them to think it’s the best Indian food they’ve tasted. When they say it is, it makes us feel so proud.”

Despite running Baraabaru’s kitchen, Chef Kapil is not the only one driving the restaurant’s homestyle ethos. Every member of the Baraabaru kitchen team contributes to the menu, identifying specialty dishes from their own family or upbringing, which are then trialled for the restaurant. “If it’s your dish, you always want to present it as best as you can,” Chef Kapil continues. “Our approach gives the team such pride, as well as an ability to master and be in charge of their own dish to ensure perfect quality. Everyone takes charge of something and works together towards a higher purpose. That’s what makes Baraabaru such a success.”

 Guests wishing to improve their own success in the kitchen can also book a half-day cooking class with Chef Kapil – a memorable and educational addition to any vacation – during which they will learn to blend spices, make breads, appetizers and mains, and then critique their meal.

 Baraabaru is open for dinner at Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa from 7:00 to 10:30 pm six nights a week (closed on Tuesdays). Inspired by the architecture of Kerala, its open-sided pavilion, Tandoor Bar, spectacular torch-lit deck and private dining pavilion offer a wealth of oceanfront dining experiences. Teak wood and richly decorated cushions imbue an easy Indian air, while a live sitar band plays nostalgic Indian music each evening – the perfect complement to the restaurant’s authentic, homestyle food.

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