Indian, Thai, Japanese, Pakistani, Malaysian and more of Dubai's best curries
India Beef short rib at Tresind At this modern Indian restaurant, you can expect dishes that are far from traditional. This particular recipe looks as pretty as a fine-dining French picture, with pieces of beef short rib, fl uffy little mountains of creamy mashed potato and a handful of pretty herbs. Most interesting, however, is the sweet-sour-tangy sauce around it that is essentially a makeover of a classic vindaloo. Dhs115. Radisson Royal Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 308 0440).
Butter chicken at Zafran This rich, creamy chicken curry is probably the best known of all Indian dishes. Succulent pieces of fresh chicken arrive swamped in a thick, orange curry sauce, which is spicy but relatively mild in comparison to other curries. With a hearty serving ideal for two people sharing, it makes a strong companion for an order of vegetable biryani, and is lovely mopped up with heavily flavoured garlic butter naan bread. Grab a table on the terrace to enjoy the views, too. Dhs59. Zafran, Dubai Marina Mall, Dubai Marina (04 399 7357).
Coastal Jhinga at Indego by Vineet Like all of the other stunning food at this restaurant, the coastal jingha is more than the sum of its parts. Here there are jumbo prawns (and they really live up to their billing) in a kaffir lime and coconut sauce. The curry is wonderfully fragrant and aromatic and those prawns, well, they’re about the best we’ve had in Dubai. It also comes with a cornmeal slice and grilled vegetables – one of the Western twists that celebrated chef Vineet Bathia manages to pull off with aplomb. Dhs205. Grosvenor House, Dubai Marina, (04 317 6000).
Crab thusar at Calicut Paragon Served in a huge earthenware pot, this is a spicy curry, cooled a little with coconut. The yellow/orange sauce bubbles as it’s brought to the table, in which a whole crab is broken up and submerged. You’ll have to get your hands dirty to enjoy this, but once you’ve tasted it you’ll not mind one bit. Order a pile of fluffy, starchy appam as a side to mop up the glorious juices. Dhs35. Karama Square, Karama (04 335 8700).
Curry prawns at Bu Qtair Marinated in a softly fiery Keralan curry paste, let the server at the counter weigh out your prawns in 500g increments, before they are fried to a juicy and delicious treat. Bu Qtair’s fresh, whole fish (also smeared in this delicious curry paste) are also well worth trying. Just make sure you also order plenty of buttery roti on the side too. From Dhs75 for 500g. Road 4D, behind Jumeirah Beach Road (055 705 2130).
Dal makhni at Armani/Amal While it might seem to be missing the point a little to go to a restaurant as classy and adventurous as Armani/Amal and choose the black dal as their stand-out dish, it sums up the place perfectly. The restaurant can, without a doubt, turn out some of the most visually stunning and creative Indian dishes in the city, however it can also do the staples of the cuisine with style and panache. This dal sums that up – perfectly cooked lentils are creamy and satisfying in this dish, which is finished with butter, giving it a warming richness. Dhs60. Armani Hotel Dubai, Burj Khalifa (04 888 3888).
Dum nariyalli prawns at Signature by Sanjeev Kapoor This restaurant is described by the Indian celebrity chef behind it as ‘progressive Indian cooking’ and this particular dish is an excellent example of that. The recipe takes a Bengal-style coconut and prawn curry, with plenty of chilli and garlic. However, the curry is effectively baked (dum biryani-style) inside a hollowed-out and sealed coconut shell. Dhs159. Melia Hotel Dubai, Bur Dubai (04 386 8111).
Fisherman’s prawns at Mint Leaf of London An upmarket riff on a humble idea. Here, the prawns are flooded with the clean, bright aromas of kaffir lime and lemongrass, off-set by the fruity sweetness of a roasted red pepper base to the sauce. Dhs105. Emirates Financial Towers, DIFC (04 706 0900).
Green fish curry at House of Curry Head to the branch of this Indian eatery at The Beach, and you’ll be treated not only to the sea views, but also a fish and seafood-focussed menu. Try the green fish curry, made with fat, meaty and plentiful chunks of kingfish, gently poached in a thick and vibrant green gravy, sweetly flavoured with coconut. Dhs50. The Beach at JBR, Dubai Marina (04 346 9740).
Lamb shank rogan josh at Karak House Unassuming and unpretentious, this little sidewalk eatery combines Indian and Arabic cooking with a new and different edge. Try the rogan josh here, and you’ll be treated to a majestic chunk of lamb shank, with tender meat falling off the bones and an excellent accompaniment of buttery, saffron-scented rice. Dhs85. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai (04 551 6852).
Lobster in malai curry at Rang Mahal by Atul Kochhar This butter tossed lobster is everything you’d hope for when ordering such a luxury ingredient. Cooked, tossed in butter and placed back in the shell – the lobster itself is beautifully meaty and sweet. The presentation is stunning and the malai sauce is subtle enough to complement the flesh. The dish is served with a mustard and coconut sauce on the side. Dhs230. JW Marriott Marquis, Business Bay (04 414 300).
Papdi Chaat at Asha’s This starter or side dish is a favourite of ours. Wherever you order it, the presentation and style will differ slightly, but we think Asha’s do it best. The deep-fried mashed potato balls are brilliantly crunchy on the outside and fluffy in the middle. The yoghurt, mint and tamarind give it freshness, sourness and bite. The pretty presentation will excite you, but the taste will make you go back for more. Dhs50. Wafi Pyramids (04 324 4100). Mall of the Emirates (04 395 1231).
Saag paneer at Memsaab Pound for pound (dirham for dirham), Memsaab makes the best version of a saag or palak paneer we’ve sampled in Dubai. While the cost would barely buy you a bottle of water in some restaurants, you’ll be served a generous bowl that has some serious refinement to its recipe. Large, fresh, firm tasting paneer cheese, within a creamy, luscious sauce of finely tempered spinach leaves, fenugreek and cumin. Delicious. Dhs26. J2 Tower, Cluster J, JLT (04 442 9816).
Shrimp malai at Junoon This new fine, formal Indian dining spot has a feast of upmarket dishes on the menu. We are enamoured of the shrimp malai that combines creamy, custardy coconut gravy with delicate spicing and plump, fresh shrimp. While here, try an inspired bit of local fusion with a zaatar and cheese naan bread on the side. Dhs175. Shangri-La Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 405 2717).
South Indian thali at Venus The menu at charming Indian restaurant Venus is overwhelming. There’s so much on there that deciding could prove a bit of a headache, so we recommend you go for the thali. The friendly staff will happily explain what you’re getting, and refill your dishes. For the frankly unbelievable sum of Dhs18 you’ll get rice, a selection of vegetarian curries, which are packed with flavour, and a choice of chapati or puri. Go with the puri – they’re some of the best in the city. Dhs18. Karama Square, Karama (04 335 2113).
Thali at Ananta It is rare in Dubai to find thali that is both authentic and fine dining. Here, you’ll get classic curries, presented on a banana leaf, (and they just keep on a-coming), but with all the fine dining accessories of good service and refined recipes. You can also sample a quicker, cheaper, smaller thali deal at lunch time for only Dhs95 per person. Dhs350 per person. Oberoi Dubai, Business Bay (04 444 1444).
Pakistani Chicken green masala at Ravi When it comes to chicken dishes at this Satwa stalwart, the tandoori grills and butter chicken are often the most talked-about. Give them a miss this time in favour of the chicken green masala – a tongue-tingling combination of peppery heat and tangy yoghurt, crammed with bite-sized pieces of breast meat. Dhs22. Opposite Emirates Co-operative Society, Satwa (04 331 5353).
Daal fry at Ravi One of the best bargains you’ll find in the city, Ravi’s thick yellow daal is jam-packed full of fresh, flash-cooked julienned ginger and curry leaves, and just enough chilli to make it near impossible to stop spooning into your face. This dish has all the remedial properties of your mum’s chicken soup. Dhs8. Opposite Emirates Co-operative Society, Satwa (04 331 5353).
Mixed wraps at Moti Roti One of the few indie food concepts gaining ground in Dubai are these specialists in new wave Pakistani fast food. We like to think Moti Roti are essentially repackaging traditional Pakistani curry, since you can take a fresh, wholesome roti bread and have it stuffed with any of the curries on offer that day. Regular signatures include masala chicken, chicken and spinach, and a Punjabi-style ‘like mama made it’ recipe of maash dahl made with white lentils. Dhs20 per wrap. www.motiroti.me (800 7684).
Thai Duck curry at Charms Duck is a surprisingly common ingredient to Thai curries. This particular example is a sweet, creamy and mild creation crammed full of fresh vegetables, including popping cherry tomatoes, baby aubergine, and pineapple, adding a sweet-sharp tang to the dish. Dhs55. Jumeirah Fishing Harbour, off Jumeirah Beach Road (04 344 8895).
Green Thai chicken curry at Pai Thai This particular recipe is a classic and highly enjoyable example of Thai green curry, made with Thai eggplant, coconut shoots, Thai basil, and a sauce so irresistibly flavoursome, we could barely bring ourselves to leave it last time we dined. Dhs115. Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 5866).
Roast duck curry at Thai Kitchen Though rich with coconut, this red curry isn’t too thick and heavy – instead the liquidy dish features big, moist chunks of duck, crunchy vegetables and bags of flavour and fragrance from the homemade paste. It’s everything you want from a Thai curry, and needs nothing but a side of sticky rice to keep it company. Dhs42. Park Hyatt, Deira (04 317 2221).
Thai red curry at Tong Thai At this two-time Time Out Restaurant Award-winning Thai restaurant, your choices for curry are limited, but of excellent quality. You’ll find two red curry options – with roasted duck or with prawns. Both are riots of aromatic sweet and fragrant spicing, while the duck curry also adds the fresh, fruity edge of lychee and pineapple. Dhs80. JW Marriott Marquis, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 414 3000).
Japanese Katsu curry at Sumo Sushi and Bento Japan’s contribution to the worldwide curry story is ‘karee’, a mild and Anglofied sauce. Here, you can sample it along with a traditional accompaniment of chicken katsu (breaded deep-fried chicken) and rice. Dhs48. Various locations, www.sumosushibento.com.
Indonesia Nasi pedang at Betawi Café At this Highly Commended Indonesian budget eatery, the nasi pedang main course is a rice plate, giving you a choice of main dish alongside curry soup, mixed vegetables, rice and spicy sambal. Opt for the beef rendang, an Indonesian classic of slowly cooked meat that becomes tender and sweetly caramelised in coconut milk. Dhs30. 4B Street, behind Park Regis Hotel, Karama (056 759 8118).
Malaysia Curry laksa at The Noodle House One of Malaysia’s best known dishes; it actually belongs to a cuisine sub-set known as ‘Peranakan’, which reflects the natural marriage of Chinese and Malay food. This dish brings together the concept of a noodle soup, but in this instance the soup broth is a thick, creamy, and fiery mixture of coconut and chilli. From Dhs40. Various locations. www.thenoodlehouse.com.