Winner - Best Indian Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards 2013
Armani/Amal Armani/Amal, as you might expect, is by far the most stylish Indian restaurant in Dubai. Once you’ve worked out where it lies amid the honey-tone walls of Giorgio’s minimalist first hotel, you are invited to have a mini mocktail in the peaceful bar area, before being seated either under one of the large low-flying lamps inside, or under a canopy on the terrace outside, overlooking the sparkling lights of Downtown and the Dubai Fountain. Service is also professional and slick without being intimidating or intrusive: waiters are present when you need them and gone when you don’t. The food itself is similarly sophisticated: beautifully presented and sumptuous, and, refreshingly for an Indian restaurant in Dubai, portion sizes are manageable. Expect flavourful curries with rich, creamy sauces and innovative combinations. Our only complaint? The menus stand out as shabby in the surrounds – but, thankfully, this is something one can easily get over once the food mentioned upon them is delivered to your table. Open daily 7pm-11pm. Armani Hotel Dubai (04 888 3444)
Highly Recommended - Best Indian Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards 2013
Indego by Vineet With a menu designed by Michelin-starred chef Vineet Bhatia, Indego by Vineet is not your typical Indian restaurant. Tandoori lobster, spice-crusted sea bass and goat cheese samosa are some of the more exotic creations on the menu, which sees the flavours of traditional Indian food refined and playfully expanded on. While it may be fine dining, portion sizes are ample, and there is a list of dishes recommended for sharing. Located in the Grosvenor House in the Marina, the restaurant's plush interior is a fitting accompaniment to the artfully presented meals. Staff are friendly and knowledgeable, and won't hesitate to recommend meal options or accompaniments, though this can border on pushy so be prepared to make your own mind up. A six-course taster menu is an option for those overwhelmed by the choice. For dessert, no visit to Indego would be complete without sampling their marbled chocolate and almond samosa. But be warned, the price tag is steep. Open daily 7pm-midnight. Tower one, Grosvenor House Dubai, Dubai Marina, www.grosvenor-dubai.com (04 399 8888).
Highly Recommended - Best Indian Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards 2013
Options by Sanjeev Kapoor Located in the Convention Centre at the Dubai World Trade Centre, Options by celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor serves excellent Indian fare with panache. The interior might shock initially, with its plush seating, huge chandeliers and regal look, but it doesn’t matter when the food and service impress to no end. Familiar foods from the restaurants Kapoor runs feature without fault – the butter chicken is moreish, quite possibly the best you’ll find in the city and should not be missed. There are plenty of ‘options’ to choose from and staff are on-hand to help with recommendations. While it’s expensive, the quality of ingredients and overall experience makes this restaurant worth it, especially for special events like birthdays or anniversaries. And Kapoor has opened a second branch in the Mövenpick Hotel Deira, obviously catering to demand for the exquisite dishes served. Options is a must-visit for lovers of authentic Indian cuisine. Open daily 12-3pm, 7pm-midnight. Ground floor, Convention Centre Office Tower, Dubai World Trade Centre. www.optionsdubai.com (04 329 3293).
Amala You’re likely to find yourself surrounded by tables of large Indian families at this five-star favourite. We’ll guess they’re predominantly attracted by the nifty dining deal: pay one price, receive as many of the chef’s selected dishes as you like, incorporating your particular likes and dislikes. The offer results in you feeling both spoilt and thoroughly greedy. Of course, the food itself has a lot to do with that, as it is rather phenomenal – traditional curries, vegetarian dishes and tandoor options from various regions, served in deep bowls. There’s even Indian ice cream and, on the drinks list, Indian varieties of grape on offer, to round off the all-round authentic experience. Our only gripe is slightly slow service at the far side of the terrace. However, sit inside, amid the large privacy-enhancing columns, and we doubt this will be a problem. Open daily 6pm-1am. Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, The Palm Jumeirah, Crescent road (west), www.jumeirah.com (04 453 0444).
Asha’s Treasured Hindi singer Asha Bhosle’s restaurant, winner of Time Out Dubai’s Best Indian award last year, does away with tradition in favour of creating a modern, contemporary space. It’s all dark oranges, browns and deep reds, colours reminiscent of the East, and the restaurant’s low lighting and soothing background music affords a cosy romantic intimacy. There were few surprises on the menu when we last visited – expect butter chicken and Khadai paneer alongside goshts and masalas – however, at the time of writing, the list was being revamped. But rest assured, care and attention goes into each dish, from their preparation to the background stories that accompany some of them on the menu. Knowledgeable, proud staff will also explain them to you in further detail, should you still be undecided. The quality of food is of fine dining standard, but you won’t feel the sting of fine dining prices when the bill arrives. It’s a wonderful restaurant with outstanding food, that’s well worth a visit. Open daily 7pm-midnight. Pyramids at Wafi, www.pyramidsrestaurantsatwafi.com (04 324 4100).
Ashiana The handsome, cosy interior is, unusually, just as well suited to a birthday meal with friends as it is to a romantic dinner with a loved one. Dark carved wooden screens create intimate recesses around the edge of the main dining area, where a beautiful mural of an Indian palace is displayed behind a stage on which singers and tabla players fill the air with traditional tunes to whisk diners to the subcontinent. The atmosphere can’t be faulted, and nor can the small yet appealing menu, which boasts classics like chicken tikka and masala curry as well as creative fusion dishes incorporating Western ingredients such as smoked salmon and feta cheese – and to great effect. Portions are fairly modest, yet prove to be surprisingly filling, accompanied by delicious sides and breads, including the unmissable coconut and pistachio naan. While service can be a little slow during busy times, staff are invariably friendly and accommodating, rounding off what is an undeniably top-notch and original dining experience. Open daily 7.30pm-11.30pm; Sun-Thu noon-3pm. Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel & Towers, Baniyas Street, Deira, www.sheratondubaicreek.com (04 207 1733).
Manvaar Looking for an Indian curry joint that somehow manages to stand out from the rest and not burn a hole through your wallet? Look no further. Pass through the wooden door and enter a traditional Rajasthani world inside Manvaar, letting the noise of Karama drown itself behind you. The restaurant, which serves authentic Rajasthani food, is almost a hidden gem, situated on a corner of a road without a loud sign to give itself away. The daal bati churma (a hot wheat dumpling with lentil curry) and the lal mans (literally translated to ‘red meat’), are two of the region’s must-try speciality dishes, the former of which you must eat with your hands. Service is quick and attentive – waiters will even demonstrate how to eat the daal bati churma if you wish them to – after, of course, ensuring to wash their hands! The rest of the menu is equally appetising and you’ll be left wondering when to pop by next. Open daily 12pm-3:30pm, 7pm-midnight. Opposite Reem Residency, Karama (04 3368332).
Rajdhani Meet the vegetarian restaurant with no menu – Rajdhani, which is tucked away in Rolla Street, Bur Dubai. Visitors are ushered to an available table and given two metal plates, each with small bowls. Immediately, waiters walk past with big pots filling up those bowls with different curries, vegetarian dishes and pickles. Tuck into these with rotis, puris and more. There’s also the option of white rice. Guests are also treated to the masala chhaas, a yoghurt-based drink. Staff are attentive and will always be ready to replenish your plate. The interiors are functional more than decorative, and the restaurant also offers valet parking for those scared to brave the Bur Dubai streets in the hunt for a spot. When done, guests stagger out, stuffed, and are encouraged to enthusiastically ring the bell hanging above the door. Filling, real food at budget prices, Rajdhani is a must-try for thali enthusiasts and those who have the stomach to pack away a mighty meal. Open daily 6:30am-11:30pm. Rolla Street, Bur Dubai (04 393 4433).
Ravi Restaurant You sit at plastic outdoor tables under a buzzing sign while traffic roars past your ear as you eat, so why does Ravi’s have such a good reputation among diners? Simple – the food. Try to find better Indian-Pakistani-style cuisine in Dubai. Or actually, don’t waste your time – there isn’t any. Fresh, flavoursome curries, kebabs and barbecued meats from the grill, unbeatable dal and a conveyor belt of hot, doughy fresh bread can match food at any five-star establishment. Don’t miss the otherworldly green chilli masala, but if you’re not sure, helpful waiters are happy to make recommendations. Grab your greediest friend and order as much as the pair of you can eat – you’ll still have change from a Dhs100 note. The biggest surprise is perhaps that a Ravi’s branch hasn’t yet been plonked in the middle of a hotel. Here’s to hoping it never is – give us the plastic chairs and buzzing sign any day. Cash only. Open daily 5am-3am. Satwa, Dubai (04 331 5353).
Zafran A typical mall eatery in many ways, Zafran is a convenient spot that serves satisfying food pretty quickly. Oh, you want value too? Well, that depends on what time you want to eat. The business lunch menu is excellent value, while being just as filling and tasty as the à la carte fare. Come for dinner and you’ll still get all the other positives, but now you are paying prices you might expect from somewhere a bit fancier. Dine on the impressive terrace overlooking the marina, weather permitting, but be warned; it can be difficult to catch the eye of a waiter from an outside table. Tuck into creamy dal and excellent chicken kebabs that are moist and nicely marinated. An excellent lunch venue that doubles as a decent dinner stop-off for shoppers who are yearning for good Indian food and don’t mind paying a bit of a premium for convenience. Open Sun-Wed noon-10.30pm; Thu-Sat noon-12.30am. Dubai Marina Mall, Dubai Marina, Dubai (04 399 7357).