1 Konju Manga Curry
Exemplifying the majesty of the dishes at this south Indian haunt, this union of meaty prawns, creamy coconut and tangy mango is Keralan paradise on a plate.
Rydges Plaza (04 398 2222). Open 12 noon-3pm, 7pm-12 midnight daily
2 Jheenga Shan
The giant tandoor-charred prawns are tender and yielding, their delicate flavour given extra ballast by a robust, yet perfectly pitched coating of cardamom-infused yoghurt and cheese.
Wafi (04 324 0000). Open 12 noon-3pm, 7pm-11pm daily
3 Chicken Handi
New Sind Punjab
Served with fresh chunks of tomato and green chilli juliennes in a spicy, fragrant sauce, mop up the tender chicken handi with a tandoori onion kulcha for Punjabi perfection.
Karama (04 337 5535). Taxi: Behind Karama fish market. Open 8am-1am daily
4 Chapati Masala and Kuruma
Look beyond the canteen-style dining and you’ll find a sensational chapati masala – flatbread wrapped around potato. Dip into the coconut-infused kuruma sauce and your mouth will water in anticipation of the meal ahead.
Karama (04 336 7111). Taxi: opp. Lulu Centre. Open 7.30am-3.30pm, 5pm-11pm daily
5 Lobster Masala
Fish pieces are served simmering in a smooth blend of tomato, onions and spices that complements, rather than bedazzles, the precious seafood. Featherweight roti seals the deal.
Arabian Courtyard Hotel (04 351 9111). Taxi: opp. Dubai Museum, Bur Dubai. Open Sun-Thu 12 noon-3pm, 7.30pm-2am, Fri 7pm-3am, Sat 12.30pm-3pm, 7pm-2am
6 Shaam Savera
This special from Sanjeev Kapoor’s Dubai HQ is a spinach kofta stuffed with malai paneer (balls of rubbery Indian cheese). But it’s the gravy that gives the dish a distinctive flavour, as honey sweetness meets tomato tang.
World Trade Centre (04 329 3293). Open 12 noon-3pm, 7pm-11.30pm daily
7 Tandoori Lal Jheenga
The clay oven weakens the resistance of these fiery prawns, churned out with a consistency so soft they implode on the tongue.
Garhoud (04 286 9600). Taxi: Near Al Tayer Motors. Open 12 noon-11.30pm daily
8 Tandoori Salmon
If the fish had any fat, it’s obliterated in the Tandoori oven. The result is achingly tender rare salmon, which, thanks to a honey, yoghurt and chilli marinade, is also smoulderingly sweet.
Grosvenor House (04 399 8888). Open Sun-Fri 7.30pm-12 midnight
9 Mutton Biryani
We never knew rice could be so fluffy, mutton so flavourful and biryani so transcendent. Yet the mutton biryani at Karachi Darbar is all these things.
Deira (04 222 2244). Taxi: Near Fish Roundabout. Open 11.30am-1am daily Other locations: Karama (04 334 7272), Bur Dubai (04 353 3177)
10 Chilli Milli Paratha
Everything this smokin’ stuffed bread touches bursts into flames (or that’s what it feels like). Once the heat’s died down, the assortment of chillies has a divine flavour. Karama (04 397 9110). Taxi: next to Baskin Robbins. Open 5pm-11pm daily
11 Fish Mango Curry
Soft, fluffy chunks of hammour coated in gravy pack a fiery punch. We haven’t scoffed curry this good since we were in the Subcontinent.
Karama (04 335 8700). Taxi: opp. Lulu Centre. Open 11.30am-4pm, 7.30pm-12.30am daily
12 Nalli Gosht
Aangan’s nalli gosht (lamb shank) falls off the bone and comes in a chunky gravy, accompanied by a cloud of cumin studded rice. Avoid the live music (from 9.30pm).
Dhow Palace (04 359 9992). Open 12.30pm-3.15pm, 7pm-12.45am daily
13 Nizam’s Treat
Anything served on a massive banana leaf is sure to delight. Add to that an assortment of authentic curries, biryani and chapati, and you’re guaranteed a winner. Plus, this king’s feast bears a pauper’s price tag, and we like that.
Karama, Trade Centre Road, near ADCB Bank (04 337 7077). Open 7.30am-3pm, 7pm-11.30pm daily
14 Murgh Tikka Lababdar
Chunky, tender morsels of chicken bathe in a buttery sauce, with just enough fire in the aftertaste to stop you going for the ‘safer’ mild butter chicken masala.
Four Points by Sheraton (04 397 7444). Taxi: Bank Street, Bur Dubai. Open 12.30pm-3.30pm, 6.30pm-2.30am daily
15 Tadoori Lobster
The dishes are more ‘contemporary’ than ‘Subcontinental’, but for the curry-phobic, the Tandoori lobster is a good gateway into the cuisine. Tender and juicy, it’s accented with a mild masala.
One&Only Royal Mirage (04 399 9999). Taxi: Arabian Court. Open 7pm-11.30pm daily
16 Prawn Masala
Smouldering cumin-infused gravy coats these plump prawns, lending them a toasty flavour that’s surprisingly dry for a coconut-based curry. Do we like? Yes we do.
Grand Hyatt Dubai (04 317 1234). Open 12.30pm-3pm, 7pm-2am daily
17 Night Meals Thali
Thali offers a curry assortment for those who can’t make up their minds. Served on a silver plate, Aryaas’ version doesn’t have the added preservatives of many of its brethren.
Al Nakheel building (04 335 5776). Taxi: opp. Lulu Centre. Open 5.30pm-12 midnight daily
18 Korma Asmani
Fresh, tasty vegetables are served in a simmering sauce of spinach and cashew gravy. Scoop it up with naan sprinkled in chopped mint leaves and garlic for a meat free feast.
Port Rashid Road (04 359 5441) Taxi: opp. Al Rafa Hospital Open 10.30am-3.15pm, 7pm-11.45pm daily
19 Masala Papads
For an appetiser, you won’t find better than these tomato and channa- (aka chickpea) stuffed wafers. Basted in a fruity tamarind paste, they crumble in your mouth. In a word? Irresistible.
Bur Dubai (04 397 9930). Taxi: near Dhow Palace Hotel. Open 12 noon-3.15pm, 7pm-11.30pm daily
20 Butter Paneer Aappam
The aappam, a pancake presented as an inverted dome, is revered at this tiny eatery, which is, after all, named after it. We love the butter paneer variety, which feels so good while being so very, very bad.
Karama (04 334 8030), Taxi: opp. Lulu Centre. Open 11.30am-3.30pm, 6.30pm-12 midnight
21 Chicken 65
Chicken 65 makes the (cramped) setting irrelevant with its tamarind goodness. Think chicken chunks swimming in tangy orange curry, ornamented with coriander and topped with a chilli tinge.
Bur Dubai (04 393 9177). Taxi: Al Raffa Road, near the Bur Dubai police station. Open 6am-1am weekdays and Saturdays 6am-12pm
22 Chettinad Chicken Masala
Offering doughy south Indian idlis and dosas, Chettinad chicken masala is the standout dish, sometimes served in vivid mint green. Radioactively spiced, it’s best sopped up with some spongy apam.
Karama (04 335 6116). Taxi: opp. Lulu Centre. Open 11.30-11.30pm daily
23 Bihari kebab
The cuisine of India’s poorest state may be predominantly vegetarian, but the Bihari kebab is a thing of flawless carnivorous wonder – especially when rendered as perfectly as it is at Delhi Darbar.
Naif Road, Deira (04 273 3444). Open 8am-12.30am daily
24 Chemmeen Muringakka
Muringakka curry is a rarity in Dubai. The sauce blankets thick prawns, oozing sweetness. Accompanied with a paratha as light as a feather duvet, this dish made us feel like we were on a slow boat to Kochi.
Marco Polo Hotel (04 272 0743). Taxi: Al Muteena Street. Open 12 noon-1am daily
25 Paneer Makhni
The setting – with its old Bollywood movies and karaoke – may seem cheesy, but that’s what makes the paneer makhni the ideal choice – chunks of cottage cheese dissolve in the mouth under a coating of spicy tomato sauce.
Ramee Royal Hotel, Bur Dubai (04 334 4088). Open 7pm-3am daily
26 Potato Chops
One bite of these fluffy balls of lamb-stuffed mashed potatoes, and you’ll know why these chops are a party favourite in Goa.
The Palm Beach Rotana Inn (04 3931999). Open 7.30pm-1am daily
To top it off…
27 Assorted Sweets
Pak Ghazi Restaurant And Sweets
Dhs20 for a box
One box may contain light, syrupy dumplings of gulab jumun, or sweet, grainy balls known as laddoo. They may do no favours for your waistline, but we guarantee your wallet will thank you.
Bur Dubai (04 397 9711). Taxi: Bank Street, opposite BurJuman. Open 4am- 2am daily
28 Yumyum Ice Cream
Nothing complements a hot curry as well as Flavours’ saffron and pistachio ice cream cone. All products are made from scratch daily, including the cones.
Karama (04 397 8784). Taxi: Across the street from Al Madina Supermarket, near Royal Garden Restaurant. Open 12 noon-12 midnight daily
29 Assorted Sweets
Dhs62 per kg
You’ll never know what you’re going to get with these colourful sweeties – some taste like rose, or melon or pistachio. Just close your eyes and be surprised.
Karama (04 396 8176). Taxi: Opposite BurJuman. Open 9am-11.30pm daily
30 Dahi Batata Puri
In a word, this honey, yoghurt and tamarind-topped puri (or fried bread) is weird. But the flavours melt in the mouth, and soon this strange little beast is all you’re craving. Karama (04 396 4937). Taxi: Behind Trade Centre Road, opp. BurJuman. Open 9am-12 midnight daily