No trip is complete without digesting the gastronomical delights of a place. Dubai is often associated with shopping, crazy buildings and fancy cars, and it should be, but few think of this city as a place that can please one’s palette. And this desert land certainly has a bountiful offering of eats. As the city has catered to a huge Southeast Asian population for several decades now, Indian cuisine is quite a staple here. Below is my guide – based on personal experience – to the best Indian restaurants in Dubai. [sociallocker]
Curry & Noodle, from the Taj Mahal Group of Restaurants, should provide a classic Indian dining experience with a focus on Mughlai and North Indian cuisine. Do not miss out on the Taj “kulfi” special here, as it promises a truly creamy and divine indulgence of this ethnic ice-cream treat. Most Indian restaurants will offer “biryani,” a dish that beautifully blends rice with an eclectic mix of spices, vegetables, and, if desired, meat. Gazebo is famous for their “dum biryani,” served in a clay pot and veiled with a thin layer of bread cooked slowly to perfection. The Pakistani chain known as Student Biriyani, although banal in setting, is in demand for its preparation of the namesake dish.
For those who enjoy seaside flavors, make sure you visit a few of Dubai’s many South Indian restaurants to get your fill of seafood and coconut-infused dishes. Goan restaurants such as Ambot Tik and Goan Shack are good bets for such cuisine, with the latter providing an appropriately coastal atmosphere. Similar fare can be found in Keralite restaurants such as Calicut Paragon and Sunrise Restaurant. And while you are at these joints, make sure to dig into some “appam,” the traditional rice-bread that is amazingly fluffy at its center and frilly on the edges, with a creamy stew or traditional beef fry. To spice up the senses, stop by Appai Kadai to feast on some fiercely hot and sumptuous Chettinad cuisine.
As a large population of Indians do not eat meat, vegetarian cuisine is easily available and consists of an extensive variety of options. Often included in veg food menus are South-Indian breakfast items like “idlis” and “dosas,” and Indian snacks such as samosas, “pav bhaji,” and “chaat” (a dish that has evolved to become the street food norm) such as “behl puri,” and “dahi vada.” Purnamal and Sukh Sagar are the typical go-to places for such fare. These chains are also the best spots for dessert, without which a meal is incomplete. Fortunately, Indians are big on sugar. “Jalebis,” the syrupy and tubular orange sweets, are among the most popular Indian desserts and are unique in look. Sweets such as “gulab jamoon,” various kinds of “barfi” and “ladoo,” and milk-based desserts such as “kheer,” and “rasmalai” are other regular, must-try offerings.
You can’t talk about Indian cuisine without mentioning tea – the most popular, divine Indian beverage. One of the local cafe favourites, Tea Junction, offers a wide selection of teas, although it is not your typical tea house. Here, you can sip a range of Indian tea preparations, such as the “Kashmiri” or “Cutting” chai, served to you in a tiny clay cup. Dubai is by no means a cheap city, but thankfully, tea—Indian style—is available at almost any cafeteria, mart, and even gas stations, often for only 1 or 2 Dirhams (approx. 30-50 US cents). The typical Indian tea, or “chai” is made with milk and sugar, and you often get variations of these, such as “kadak” (strong) chai and “masala” (spiced) chai at most stops. Except for the price, these beverages and the experience surrounding them are quite the local luxury: if you drive there, you’ll have the tea brought out to you. You then sit back, relax and enjoy each rich sip in your car. And this is the perfect way to wrap up your culinary exploration, even if you may find yourself stuck in a traffic jam outside a nondescript deli, in search of the perfect cup of Indian tea, Dubai-style.
Image by: Santhosh Kumar. [/sociallocker]