An Indian Barbecue at Cocktail Hour

Fancy the flavour of barbecue, but not in the mood to sit outside for it in the sweltering heat? We have a solution that comes with an Indian twist. The smoky scent of our tandoori dishes is reminiscent of the Mediterranean barbecue waft, and our summer cocktail menu is generous and plentiful. Here at Shakinah, you can have your barbecue and eat it.   

Our team will be more than happy to curate the perfect summer meal for you. Our summer cocktail menu features refreshing beverages that are the perfect antidote to the hot weather. Enjoy fashionable fruits, herbs, spices and liqueurs blended and poured into the most unorthodox and Instagrammable glassware you’ll ever come across. Ordering a cocktail at Shakinah is a theatrical experience, and it’s all the more heightened by a sizzling and colourful spread of food to go with it.

Here are a few of our favourite culinary and cocktail pairings for that Indian barbecue vibe we promised you:

Tandoori King Prawns and Strawberry Garden

What a red-hot pairing. Hues of fuchsia will adorn your table here, with our tandoori prawns beautifully barbecued crimson. Meanwhile, the Strawberry Garden is a fruity concoction of crushed strawberries, vodka, elderflower, basil and mint.

Chicken Tikka Masala and Aperol Foam Bomb

No Aperol, no party, but this is our interpretation on the coveted summer bitter. Enjoy a heightened Aperol and Chambord with cinnamon, tequila, passion fruit purée, and a hint of red chilli. As there is a little bit of fire to this cocktail, we recommend pairing it with a mellow and creamy chicken in a tomato and cashew sauce.

cocktails malta

Vegetarian Nibbles with Gin Cucumber

A selection of our meat-free starters are an eclectic and filling option for a more convivial and shared experience at the table. We cannot but champion our deconstructed onion bhaji, cumin-infused vegetable samosas and cheese corn marbles for a mild dinner. We recommend pairing this trio with this season’s signature cocktail, the Gin Cucumber. We’ve given this drink a beautiful fiery kick with green chillies, but you’re nonetheless guaranteed a refreshingly zen beverage with apple juice, mint, fresh cucumber and coriander leaves.

Shakinah King Prawns and Banana & Coconut Elegance

There’s always time for curry and the sea. Our inhouse Shakinah king prawns is a dish inspired by a North Indian recipe, with a rich and spicy sauce thickened by unctuous lentils. This dish is on the spicy side, so you might want to opt for our equally rich but mellow banana & Coconut Elegance. Our creamy cocktail is enhanced with white rum, fresh lime juice, tamarind syrup and cumin for a tropical finish to your meal.

cocktails in malta

Tandoori Chicken and A King’s Beer

Talk about a match made in barbecue heaven. Our tandoori chicken is presented to you as it’s still sizzling barbecue aromas, and the ruby red coating promises succulence, flavour and the right amount of crispiness. Order this timeless classic with a side of coconut naan for dipping, and wash it down with our own elevated Corona that is mixed with passion fruit purée, tamarind syrup and a pinch of cumin.

Pahadi Kebab and Watermelon Martini

Skewered chicken is always a good idea, especially when steeped in a fresh herb marinade. Our Pahadi kebab is dressed in mint, yoghurt, plenty of garlic and ginger for a savoury flavour, and a good kick of coriander. Temper the latter with a good swig of our Watermelon Martini, which is a minimalist cocktail/smoothie of blended chunks of fresh watermelon, prosecco and vodka.

martini malta

Spring Flavours at Shakinah

Spring Flavours at Shakinah

The strong winds have wafted in balmier temperatures and lighter aromas to the spring air.

Although Shakinah will still be serving its heady classics, we would like to shift the spotlight onto some of our more suitably spring dishes to complement the season. With our chefs ready to welcome seasonal produce into the kitchen, you’ll find that our dishes are adapted to what is freshest on offer. As you might be looking for zestier flavours, here are our recommendations for the season:

Navratan Korma

The literal translation of ‘navratan’ is ‘nine gems’, signifying the nine vegetables traditionally used in this vegetarian classic. One of the milder kormas, the Navratan features a creamier sauce that celebrates the mellow flavour of the cashew nut, rather than any other adorning spices. Our chef makes a selection of the freshest vegetables in season for the Navratan, which are then cooked to perfection, with just the right amount of firmness.

Achari Kebab

Here at Shakinah, we’ve always got the barbecue fired up, and one of our star dishes straight off the grill is the Achari Kebab. The uniqueness of this dish is the incorporation of the achar, a traditional South Asian pickle with lemons, limes, ginger and even mango, which are then spiced with chilli pepper during the pickling process. The juicy chicken pieces are marinated in an achar and yoghurt mixture, giving the chicken its trademark tanginess and festively sunny hue.

Kesari Jhinga

This moreish dish encompasses all that is holy about warmer climates. The pescatarian king that is the prawn is marinated in heavenly yoghurt, and spiced with majestic saffron, ginger and garlic. Kesari, which is Sanskrit for saffron or lion, is the star ingredient in this dish, flavouring and decorating Shakinah’s hand-picked tandoori-cooked prawns. Although the Kesari Jhinga makes for a great starter, it could also be the perfect spring lunch.

Vegetable Biryani

Not that we wish to diminish the importance of our meat and fish dishes, but there is something so wholesome about vegetarian meals, especially when the earth has so much to offer at this time of year. Vegetables make for lighter meals, and a dish such as our vegetable biryani is an excellent avenue to get your five-a-day. The conglomerate of spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg and bay leaves beautifully permeate the vegetables, and the rice gives a wonderful roasted bite – possibly one of the best ways to have your carbs.

Not Just Citrus

One of our best-selling desserts brings together the flavours or sunshine, leaving a zest of spring zing in your mouth. This cheesecake offers a harmonious balance of lime, lemon and white chocolate, with a coconut biscuit crumb cementing the light and fluffy layer on top. If you haven’t had enough dairy, don’t forget to wash it down with a lassi of your choice.

Key Ingredients In Indian Cuisine

Key Ingredients In Indian Cuisine

A cuisine can say much about its nation’s history. Every flavour has a part to play in the telling of a country’s story, and every ingredient comes with its own journey to the final dish. At Shakinah, we feel it’s important to stick to the original culinary narrative, although we don’t mind adding a few of our own embellishments and interpretations along the way. Nonetheless, we’ve always stayed true to the foundations of Indian food, and our chefs have ensured that only the very best selection of these basics come through the kitchen door.

Our Best Selected Indian Spices & Ingredients.

Here’s a breakdown of some of our indispensable staples:

Yoghurt

With over 300 million bovines in its territory, India possesses the largest dairy herd in the world, and is the greatest consumer of dairy produce on record. It’s therefore no surprise that it plays a central role in the Indian diet, with buffalo milk being the nation’s primary source, and the cow revered as a sacred symbol in the Hindu religion. From lassi to raita, paneer and ghee, dairy sets the scene at the Indian table, working in tandem with a rainbow of chillies and spices. Often used as a cooling agent as well as a tenderiser, yoghurt makes its appearance in various forms, such as a marinade for most meats in tandoori, or a base for curry sauces. Most of our meats and seafood at Shakinah are marinaded in yoghurt prior to cooking, and we recommend a side of our own raita recipe to temper your spicy selections. Alternatively, our lassis are a delicious accompaniment to your meal, be they as an apéritif or digestif. A yoghurt-based drink blended with fruit, spices and salt, lassi is an indulgent beverage with a tart flavour and rich texture. 

indian yoghurtPhoto: Shakinah’s Raita

Coconut

Mainly used in South Indian dishes, or as a vegan alternative to dairy, the coconut is a lucrative drupe from which communities in tropical climates have been benefitting for centuries. As another prominent symbol in Hindu culture, the coconut and its derivatives have served humanity well. While the coconut’s shell and tree trunk are used as a source of charcoal and timber respectively, the fruit itself has given cuisine coconut water, oil, milk, cream and the flesh itself. Coconut cream or milk is mainly used as a sauce thickener along with the masala, giving a mild but tangy punch to the dish. At Shakinah, we like to use fresh coconut in all our Madras dishes, but it is especially tasty in our Sakuti, where prawns a served in a roasted coconut and onion sauce.

Paneer

Another dairy hero in the Indian glossary, paneer is India’s answer to the Mediterranean’s halloumi. A semi-hard cheese that doesn’t melt, paneer is made from curdled buffalo milk that is set with an acidic substance such as lemon juice. Though not as salty as halloumi, paneer’s dense and chewy texture renders it a filling alternative to meat and fish, and can be added to any masala sauce, such as tikka masala or sometimes even chana masala. Its star appearance however is in palak paneer, where cubes of this succulent cheese are immersed in an aromatic emerald green spinach puree. At Shakinah, we also feature a decadent paneer pakora which are smothered in gram flour and deep fried. Do try!

Basmati Rice

As the largest exporter of rice in the world, India’s national economy is heavily dependent on the production of its rice. Rice is the country’s most dominant crop, and its hot and humid weather, as well as heavy rainfall, offers the perfect environment for rice cultivation. The Basmati grain is the most common in Indian cuisine, providing a fluffy carbohydrate with a nutty hint. Biryani dishes, originating from the Muslim communities in India, feature a rice dish that celebrates aromatic spices mixed with cut meat or seafood. Shakinah’s Chicken Biryani with saffron is a star attraction, as is our classic pilau rice with cardamom, cinnamon and turmeric.    

basmati rice indianPhoto: Shakinah’s Pilau Rice

Wintery Delights at Shakinah

Wintery Indian Delights at Shakinah

Our wise chefs come bearing gifts, and the Angel Shakinah has blessed us and our patrons with peace, love and joy. The Shakinah team is looking forward to warming you up this season with a hearty selection of comforting wintery dishes, within the perfect setting that is our restaurant in Ta’ Xbiex.

Indian cuisine, by its very nature, is a decadent and balmy spread of ingredients, making it an ideal choice during the colder months. In truth, the familiar flavours of Christmas are forever present in most Indian dishes, with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamon and star anise perennially punctuating this culinary landscape. Here are some of our recommendations for your next visit this winter:

Our Wintery Indian Meals

Chicken Soup

chicken soup - shakinah

Never underestimate the restorative powers of a good soup, and there are none quite as nourishing as our much-revered chicken soup. With an organically sourced chicken stock that is made inhouse, our soup gets its velvety warmth from a fusion of butter and cream, with cardamon, cloves and peppercorns delivering a crescendo of seasoning. And if you’re seeking a vegan alternative, our tomato sorba promises the holy grail of flavour and good health in our garlic, ginger and coriander blend.

Stuffed Mushrooms

stuffed mushrooms shakinah

At Shakinah, we take our seasonal vegetables very seriously, and mushrooms will always be a fresh staple in our menu. Our mighty meaty mushrooms stuffed with minced vegetables and onions are hearty with curry and hot with heat. Served as a sizzling platter, this dish will certainly give you a cosy start to your meal, and it makes for an excellent vegetarian option.

 

Palak Paneer

This Palak Paneer dish is a more off-the-beaten-track choice, but we’d very much like to raise its profile among our clientele, not just because it’s packed with gloriously nutritious spinach freshly sourced from local farmers, but also because paneer is an unsung hero in Indian cuisine. Paneer is a dense but mildly flavoured non-melting cottage cheese made from buffalo milk, and there is something immensely comforting about its delicate but beefy texture, as well as its creamy and slightly salty flavour. It is a pearly star from the East, and we encourage you to give it a go. You won’t be disappointed!

Beef Vindaloo

This devilishly hot option is a favourite among our regulars, and it’s a wonderful option to raise temperatures. We admit that our vindaloo is not for the faint of heart, but it’s certainly worth the invigorating kick it gives with every mouthful. Our succulent beef is marinated in vinegar, rendering moist and tender against its accompaniment of rich potato chunks. Wash down its aromatic sauce with our infamous mango lassi or our remedial raita.

Lamb Roghan Josh

Lamb Roghan Josh

The explosive flavour of our lamb roghan josh is festive and full of Eastern promise, with our authentic blend of Kashmiri spices. At Shakinah, we deliver not just food, but also a sensory experience, and the wafting aroma of our locally-sourced lamb studded with cinnamon, ginger and saffron is intended to whet your appetite and lift your spirits.

The Local

imqaret

We couldn’t possibly end our selection without a sweet finale. And what’s Christmas without a hint of tradition and nostalgia? Our take on Malta’s imqaret is festooned with chopped apricots, pistachios, cinnamon and a celebratory helping of vanilla bean ice cream, while the pillows of fried pastry are stuffed with a smooth emulsion of local dates, topped with a good drizzle of honey.

Our Top 5 Indian Dishes for this Month

The Best 5 Indian Dishes this Month

We know we shouldn’t have favourites, but at Shakinah, we do have a few star attractions that never fail to please. From our celebrated Chicken Tikka Masala to our sizzling Tandoori platter, Indian staples will always feature on our menu. Nonetheless, our mission is to make these dishes as memorable as they are irresistible, which is why we go the extra mile to make them authentically our own. From sourcing the finest ingredients to our team’s mise en place, we’re committed to honour as well as elevate classic Indian dishes.

Our Best Indian Dishes

Here are some of our personal recommendations for your next visit: 

Chicken Tikka Masala

chicken tikka masala

No Indian menu is complete without this much-loved dish. Although its origins have been widely disputed, many agree that it had first made an appearance in Great Britain in the 1970s through the South Asian community. However, food critic Rahul Verma believes it to be a relatively modern Punjabi dish, not more than 50 years old. There’s no fixed standard to its recipe, but a mild and creamy tomato sauce is the common denominator of this dish. Shakinah’s tikka masala is crimson to the core, with a sauce that envelopes tender pull-apart chunks of chicken marinated in yoghurt and masala spices. Although rather on the mild side, our version will guarantee you a light but fun kick at the back of the throat.

Onion Bhaji

onion baji

Everything tastes better in batter, but the flaky crusting that only an onion bhaji can offer takes battered food to a whole new level. Although it’s a popular starter in most Indian restaurants, it is in fact regarded as a street food snack across the Indian continent, and often prepared for celebrations and special events. Its distinct light fritter batter is made from gram flour, encasing strips of shredded onion which are then shaped into a ball. However, Shakinah offers a more deconstructed version of the onion bhaji. We serve it spiralised and spread out across an oblong plate, and since our batter is not overpowered by too many spices, the onion does most of the talking. And believe us, there is onion in this bhaji.

Chicken Korma

chicken korma

Possibly the most requested Indian dish in the Western world, the korma has had a long journey since its beginnings in the 16th century. It is typically defined by its very mild flavour and thick sauce; a curry for all seasons. Unfortunately, there are some who are quick to snub this dish due to its lack of performance on the Scoville scale. But let’s not forget that Indian cuisine isn’t just about heat. It’s also about umami, and our chicken korma defies the bland stereotype. Although there are plenty of variations of the korma, Shakinah goes for the quintessential presentation, but with a vengeance. With melt-in-the-mouth chunks of tender chicken, our blend presents a luscious nutty and buttery sunshine yellow sauce, muscled by whole cashew nuts, yoghurt and coconut cream. The chicken korma is certainly our dark horse.

Tandoori King Prawns

Tandoori King Prawns

Without a doubt, Shakinah’s version of this dish is a marriage of the sea and the heady aromas of tandoori. The tandoori clay oven dates back to 3000 B.C., and the traditional flavouring includes marinating the meat in yoghurt, a ginger and garlic paste, garam masala, red chilli powder, and coriander. The final distinct texture and flavour comes from the charring smokiness of the oven, and the spiciness from the chilli powder certainly packs a punch. We serve seven meaty king prawns on a bed of freshly chopped salad, and we recommend an accompaniment of raita for dipping and refreshment to go with it.

Cauliflower Pakora

Cauliflower Pakora

The simplest dishes are sometimes the best, and another one of our starters can attest to this. A sumptuous vegan option, our cauliflower pakora just entails three rudimentary steps. We boil our locally sourced cauliflower heads until they reach just the right amount of softness. We then coat it in gram flour and our very own blend of spice masala, then deep fry them until they achieve their golden coating. The simplicity is also in the flavour and in our presentation. Although the pakoras are relatively mild in flavour, save for the masala that delivers the final pop, we like to accompany the dish with a drizzle of our flavourful tomato sauce. Don’t skip it, or you’ll regret it!