Dubai’s Indian restaurant scene can easily rival the food scene of, well, India. Yes, it’s a tall claim but hey, once you’ve eaten your way through the hole-in-the-wall street food joints tucked away in bustling bylanes of Old Dubai or through the innovative tasting menus of celebrity chefs in opulent fine-dining establishments, you could easily believe you’re in Mumbai. Or Delhi. Or Kochi. From fragrant biryanis to succulent kebabs and Michelin Guide-lauded fusion cuisine, these vibrant Indian restaurants in Dubai are a haven of hospitality and warmth that immerses you in the heart of Indian culture.
Trèsind, a play on the French word très and Ind (short for Indian) is very Indian yet very modern. This Dubai-born Indian eatery’s brilliant take on traditional Indian delicacies since 2014 paved the way for Michelin-starred siblings Trèsind Studio, Carnival by Trèsind, Avatara and a Trèsind Mumbai. Mushroom chai, truffle oil tadka and brisket naan are mouth-wateringly eclectic creations dreamed up inside this award-winning restaurant’s live kitchens. Meanwhile, elegantly dramatic beverages like the Lava Lamp come to life at the enchanting bar with a gorgeous mural. However, it’s mopping up their melt-in-your-mouth slow-cooked pressure cooker mutton curry with fluffy green pea kachuris that’s universally loved by respected food guides and foodies.
📍One&Only Royal Mirage, Arabian Court, Dubai Marina – Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Very few Indian restaurants in Dubai can boast Mint Leaf’s dizzying Burj Khalifa views, perched atop Emirates Towers’ 15th floor. Meals at this trendy London-born Indian eatery are tailored to a variety of spice levels, so only the views leave you breathless. A revamped menu dabbles in fusion cuisine, blending gunpowder and padrón pepper in an eggplant salan, corn quiche scallion bhaji and braised ribs with zaatar potatoes. Artisanal cocktails at the swish bar help take the edge off piquant meals and deliver some edgy photos. This softly illuminated fine-dining spot is a gorgeous restaurant for a romantic date night, or to see and be seen.
📍Emirates Financial Towers, 15th Floor, South Tower, DIFC – Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Roobaru’s crowning glory is its chai room – think a bar serving tea, but make it desi. On second thoughts, that’s doing a disservice to this Downtown Dubai joint specialising in wholesome Indian eats with a whimsical twist. The decor might be millennial pink but the food’s red hot and handpicks the best from every corner of India – creamy daal makhni, Delhi’s street-food-inspired Aslam chicken from the north, tangy amchi thecha wings from the west, Axomiya seabass from the east and the south’s prawn inchipuli. Coupled with luscious boba faloodas and inspired drinks, this venue curries favour for all the right reasons.
📍DT1 Residential Tower, Burj Khalifa Blvd, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The dilemma wasn’t whether to include a Vineet Bhatia restaurant. It was picking only one of the first Michelin-starred Indian chef’s two Dubai eateries. Since Indego by Vineet is a fine dining legend amongst Dubai Indian restaurants, the younger Indya by Vineet gets a shoutout. Indego’s impeccable presentation and delightful street food and multicuisine-inspired dishes get a punchy, bright update here. You’d think it’s the vibrant murals, funky peacock feather chairs and tiled bar that has diners returning. You’re right. However, it’s the playful menu of ‘earth’, ‘land’ and ‘sea’ dishes that seals the deal with hits like achari fish turmeric roti tacos, kheema burrata pijja naan, and samosa pinwheels.
📍Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa, Dubai Marina
5. Rasoi Ghar
It’s culinary sacrilege if eateries from Karama aren’t featured in a rundown of Indian restaurants in Dubai. This frenetic Bur Dubai neighbourhood is nicknamed ‘Little India’ for a reason. Rasoi Ghar has mastered vegetarian cuisine from the states of Gujarat and Rajasthan, known for their abundant feasts and excels in the thali – a platter serving up a full meal of mains, starters and desserts. Thali combos change every day of the week at this casual no-frills eatery and serve homestyle classic dishes from different communities such as Rajasthani dal baati choorma, Sindhi tadka dal pakwan, Kashmiri dahi wada.
📍Opposite BurJuman, CenterPoint, Zainal Mohebi Plaza – Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed St, Bur Dubai – Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The nightmare of nabbing parking around Amritsr (another Karama gem) is worth the reward of dreamy Punjabi food. Although the vibrant decor is a nod to Punjab’s folk culture, it’s the hearty, (and affordable) menu that proves it’s Dubai’s only authentic restaurant from Amirtsar – the city of the Golden Temple. Their chole bature, tandoori chicken, kulchas and rajma masala are time-honoured comfort foods packing a punch, so if ‘a sprinkle of pepper’ is your idea of spice, drive back home. But we suggest braving the heat, then pacify those scorched tastebuds with a bowl of sweet moongdal halwa and slip into food coma.
📍Al Attar Center, Karama
7. The Crossing
Just over a year old, foodies secretly enjoyed The Crossing for months, sharing its smashing wonders only through word-of-mouth. But there’s no hiding the light of a culinary gem that dazzled Bollywood stars at the IIFA Awards as a pop-up. Why wouldn’t it? Dishes redolent of colonial influences and inspired by lost recipes and the diversity of the Indian subcontinent are rolled out in a classy ambience flecked with the old-world colonial charm. The menu brims with flavourful offerings available as mains and small sharing plates. Jackfruit curry with idlis, gunpowder prawns and moringa salmon tikka are a few of the blockbuster hits here.
📍H Dubai, 1 Sheikh Zayed Rd, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
8. Calicut Paragon
Once you pop by Calicut Paragon, you can’t stop. You’ll return over and over so their prawns masala – whole jumbo shrimps slathered in a rich sauce – will stop haunting your dreams. Every Malayali in Dubai will blindly recommend this legendary institution’s traditional Kerala cuisine and seafood and meat preparations. Snaking queues outside this simple casual eatery are a common sight. However, once you finally cop a squat inside, order the chicken varatiyathu, iconic Kerala porottas, paper-thin pathiris (rice flatbreads), malabar biryani, mango fish curry and tender coconut payasam. Then seek a cup of their refreshing spice-infused sulaimani black tea to jolt you out of the gastronomic stupor.
📍Mattar Al Rayar Building, Karama