8 of the Best Indian Restaurants in the UAE
There are nearly two million Indians in the UAE – more than any other nationality – so it should come as no surprise that we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to Indian food. We reveal some of our top choices.
1 Manisha’s Kitchen
Best For: Home-style cuisine
Manisha Sachin Chitale first began cooking for her family and friends, but before long her entire community was craving her food. After several years as an in-demand caterer, she’s now offering her magical cuisine to the whole city. Maharashtrian food is vegetarian and doesn’t bury its flavours under heaps of sauce. Freshness is everything, so every dish must be made from scratch. It’s also incredibly healthy – made with fresh, light oil and no colourings – and it’s deeply addictive. We particularly like sabudana vada, delicate, lightly fried morsels of succulent sago seed served with an elegant peanut and coconut chutney. To cap it all, the prices are so low that you’ll think they made a mistake on your bill.
INFO: 8.30am-3.30pm, 6.30pm-10.30pm Sat-Thu, 8.30am-11.30am, 1.15pm-3.30pm, 6.30pm-10.30pm Fri, Karama, opposite Madeena Bazaar, 04 370 6799, www.manishaskitchen.com
Best For: Live entertainment
A gharana is a school of music, and tunes are at the heart of this under-appreciated gem in Al Barsha’s Holiday Inn. Featuring no fewer than four menus, each representing a different regional cuisine, Gharana’s food is as lush and satisfying as the music played by its house band. When we visited, its largely Indian clientele couldn’t stop requesting their favourite classical and contemporary tunes, and it even threw in a Céline Dion cover. Its tandoori items are the highlight of the menu, but don’t leave without trying its signature black lentil dhal.
INFO: 7pm-11.30pm, Holiday Inn Al Barsha, Dubai, 04 323 4333,
Best For: Posh nosh
Some say that the best Indian dishes are street food as it’s a cuisine that doesn’t benefit from the bells and whistles of fine dining – but these people obviously haven’t visited Amal. The trick, it seems, is not to try to reinvent classic dishes, but to get to their heart and present them perfectly. For example, Amal’s version of the classic smoked lamb cake is not only as hearty and satisfying as anything you’d find on the streets of Hyderabad, but also so complex that you need to close your eyes to savour every bite. Its Chicken 65 is similarly taken to another level. This peppery offering is served on a bed of apple pachadi that elegantly offsets the slight oiliness of the lightly fried chicken. The food alone makes Amal worth the trip, so it’s a bonus you can enjoy it while taking in views of The Dubai Fountain.
INFO: 7pm-11pm, Armani Hotel, Burj Khalifa, Dubai, 04 888 3444, www.dubai.armanihotels.com
Best For: A romantic date
Nina combines the spices and flavours of Indian food with the sensibility of European fine dining. While the heart of the menu is its delectable grilled offerings, the more adventurous diner will be rewarded by sampling its
fusion food, which includes a seared scallop with a masala corn salsa. The real draw here, however, is the atmosphere – think flickering candles, beaded curtains and soothing music. It’s super-romantic. The dimly lit environment is intimate and the leisurely but efficient service allows you to relax and take in every moment. We recommend the two-person sharing menu.
INFO: 7pm-11.30pm, Arabian Court, The One&Only Royal Mirage, Dubai, 04 399 9999, www.royalmirage.oneandonlyresorts.com
5 Options by Sanjeev Kapoor
Best for: Family time
Despite the chandeliers and red velvet chairs that adorn his restaurant, celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor is more of a Jamie Oliver than an Alain Ducasse: his fresh and friendly cooking makes you think of tucking in around the family dinner table, not of formal dining. The best items on the menu are pure comfort food. The incredible dum ke spinach dumplings are stuffed with yoghurt, sautéed with cheese and nuts, and smoked in a mini tandoor sealed with flatbread. And if you’re on the hunt for the perfect butter chicken, you’ll save time by starting here.
INFO: noon-3pm, 7pm-midnight, Convention Tower, Dubai World Trade Centre, 04 329 3293,
Best For: Big appetites
The problem with Indian food is that you can never round up enough friends to order everything on the menu. At Amala, you can go ahead and do it regardless. For a flat fee you can try as many dishes as you want. This is, however, no glorified buffet. Everything is made fresh to order from its extensive à la carte menu. It offers Mughlai cuisine, heavily influenced by Turkish food, which means that many of Amala’s dishes are beautifully accented by the sweetness of dried fruits and nuts. Its saucy curries pack more of a wallop than those of most Indian restaurants in Dubai, but it’s the tandoori items that will keep you wanting more.
INFO: 6pm-1am, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray Hotel, Dubai, 04 453 0444, www.jumeirah.com
7 Calicut Paragon
Calicut Paragon could charge 10 times the price for its mouthwatering Malabari fried fish seasoned with masala, red chilli and coconut, and you’d still order a second serving. Luckily, though, this dish will set you back less than Dhs20. This value goes some way to explaining how this gargantuan restaurant manages to fill every table in all three rooms night after night, despite its no-more-than-functional decor. The original branch in Calicut, India, has been a roaring success since it opened in 1939, and its Dubai sister restaurant has similarly become a favourite of many a homesick Keralan. To accompany your main course, we recommended the appam – a bowl shaped, cloud-like rice and coconut pancake.
INFO: noon-1.20am, Sat-Thu, 1pm-1.30am Fri, near 16th Street, Karama, Dubai, 04 335 8700, www.paragonrestaurant.net
8 Brick Lane
Best for: Delivery
It could be argued that the Indian food consumed in the UK isn’t ‘authentic’, but tell that to the 12 million Brits who enjoy a chicken tikka masala every week. Al Barsha’s Brick Lane caters for expats who miss their local curry house. What is it that’s so different about British Indian food? Well, to start, it’s sweeter, creamier and saucier than anything you’ll find in Punjab, and it tends to rely more on lean, boneless cuts of meat. You’ll find Brick Lane’s offerings delightful and its delivery service is one of the best in the city.
City House, Al Barsha 1, behind Sharaf DG Metro, 04 399 6786, www.bricklanedubai.com