It’s one of the best budget joints in town, with fine southern Indian and Sri Lankan cuisine paired by sterling service. Staff are unfailingly welcoming and helpful, and it’s usually packed with both Indian and western families. It’s also licensed. Stand-out dishes include a tikka masala laden with juicy chunks of hammour and a tangy aubergine dish that goes by the tounge-twisting moniker of kathrikai kara kozhambu. Naans and rice come enormously proportioned, ensuring appetites are more than adequately sated.
Rydges Plaza, Satwa Roundabout (04 398 2222). Open daily 12 noon-3pm, 7pm-midnight Price Dhs 50-200
It may not be the most authentic Indian grub in town, but it certainly suits developing palates. The dosas, or potato pyramids as some kids like to call them, go down a storm, as do the stuffed potato patties and masala fish fingers. The food court location means you won’t be crawling under the table if your little ones fling their rice around like confetti, and if your brood refuses to venture into Indian cuisine, there are other options available nearby.
Mall of the Emirates (04 341 1600). Open daily 12.30pm-11.30pm Price Dhs50-200, Other locations: Spinney’s Centre, Umm Sequim (04 394 1483), Jumeirah Beach Residence (04 437 0233)
This is the veggie sibling of the excellent Gazebo and lauded ‘Not just another vegetarian restaurant’ by its own marketing blurb. The brightly decorated (and easy-wipe) booths make it pretty sprog-friendly, as attested by the families present whenever we dine there. It’s casual enough that a screaming bairn won’t cause too much embarrassment, while the food is good enough to keep parents happy.
Kuwait Street, west of Trade Centre Road (04 359 5441). Open Sun-Thu 10.30am-3.15pm, 7pm-11.45pm; Fri 1.15pm-3.30pm, 7pm-11.45pm; Sat 10.30am-3.15pm, 7pm-11.45pm Price Under Dhs50
This is a real treat for inquisitive nippers. The first floor has a family room with highchairs, but children are welcome everywhere and it’s a popular spot with south Asian families. The food is cheap and well-spiced (excellent thalis are available for Dhs7, and come served on a banana leaf) and staff are helpful when asked for milder dishes. The paneer butter masala is perfect, and frugal types can’t go wrong with the unlimited thali – bottomless roti, dahl, rice and sambar for a piffling Dhs10. Traditional Indian sweets are available for dessert, but the area likely to get most interest from young ‘uns is the massive vat of oil in the ground floor window, used to cook up doughy treats which are then dipped in syrup (not so good if you’re trying Indian food for its health benefits).
The opposite side of Karama Park from Lulu (04 334 5252). Open Sat-Thu 7.30am-3pm, 5.30pm-11pm; Fri 7.30am-11.30am, 1.30pm-3pm, 5.30pm-11.30pm Price under Dhs50
Options is Indian celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor’s Dubai HQ, and serves up posh curry in giddily-decorated surroundings, which include a wall of plastic beads separating the section from the bar which may prove irresistible to sticky hands. The aquarium will keep younger diners amused but the food is the main reason to visit. The presence of so many Emirati and Indian diners is testament to its quality and chef Saurabh Malhotra and colleagues will gladly advise on kid-friendly dishes.
World Trade Convention Centre (04 329 3293). Open daily noon-3pm, 7pm-11.30pm Price Dhs350-450.
Conveniently located near The Walk – a great area for a family stroll – Sukh Sagar has a long list of inexpensive southern Indian delights to sample. The menu is brimming with curries, dahls and sweets as well as the odd spicy version of a mainstream dish like pizza, sandwiches and salads, which should satisfy fussy little eaters.
Jumeirah Beach Residence, opposite the Hilton Hotel (04 437 0188). Open Daily 6.30pm-midnight. Price Dhs100-200. Other location: Bur Dubai, opposite BurJuman (04 396 7222).