Next week, on Saturday August 15, India will celebrate 69 years of Independence. In honour of this, we’ve decided to take a slightly different look at Indian food in Dubai, inspired by the nation’s diverse regions. Here, you’ll find traditional dishes through to high-end creations that have taken their inspiration from typical cooking styles from provinces such as West Bengal, Rajasthan, Goa and many more.
Amritsari machli at Antique Bazaar
The menu here is in fact a feast of regional dishes. On it you’ll find several items from the Punjab region, including this signature dish of deep-fried fish. Also on the menu is famous Punjabi dish sarson ka saag, which is a delicious vegetarian concoction made with spinach, mustard and fenugreek leaves.
Dhs66. Four Points by Sheraton Bur Dubai, Khalid Bin Al Waleed Road (04 397 7444).
Bengali lobster at Naya
From: West Bengal
This new restaurant at Jumeirah Beach Hotel specialises primarily in northern Indian cooking. On the menu you’ll find this signature dish, which takes inspiration from Bengali cooking, made with lobster tail and potato (a significant ingredient in Bengali dishes, and considered a delicacy in this province) flavoured with mustard, onion and tomato masala. This dish is served with rice and flavoured with carom seeds, which are believed to aid in the digestion of seafood.
Dhs280. Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Jumeirah Beach Road (04 366 5866).
Butter chicken at Signature by Sanjeev Kapoor
One of India’s most famous dishes (aka ‘murgh makhani’) is created by marinating chicken in a mixture of yoghurt and spices, before cooking it in a tandoor oven. The sauce of tomato, butter, cumin and coriander (which gives the recipe its name) is added after cooking, and finished
with cashew paste, cream and fenugreek leaves.
From Dhs89 (for two). Melia Hotel Dubai, 23 Kuwait Street, Port Rashid, Bur Dubai (04 386 8111).
Chaat trolley at Tresind
From: Uttar Pradesh
Chaat, in its many guises, is one of India’s most famous street foods, born in the state of Uttar Pradesh. It is thought that this style of spiced salad was created for an emperor, who had been advised by his doctor to consume food that was light on the stomach, but not light on spicing. At Tresind, this dish is given a modern twist, with a chaat trolley where items such as deconstructed pani puri, dahi bhalla ice cream and nitro-cooked potato rosti are prepared directly at the table.
Dhs125. Radisson Royal Hotel Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 308 0440).
Chicken xacuti at Indego by Vineet
Xacuti is one of Goa’s most famous dishes, second arguably only to the infamous vindaloo. Here, at the restaurant of Michelin-star chef Vineet Bhatia, you can sample this recipe, which is made with chicken, spices, grated coconut and ginger.
Dhs215. Grosvenor House Dubai, Dubai Marina (04 399 8888).
Dakshin salmon tikka at Asha’s
Until the end of September, Asha’s is running a special menu featuring coastal Indian specialities. Among them is this fish dish from the former French colony of Pondicherry. The salmon fillet is marinated in curry leaves and coconut milk, and then chargrilled in the tandoor oven.
Dhs125. Wafi Mall, Oud Metha (04 324 4100).
Demoiselles de Pondicherry at La Porte des Indes
This dish is inspired by the traditional cooking of the province, but given a fine-dining edge. It is a plate of grilled king scallops, flavoured with garlic and saffron. The restaurant will also be serving a special Independence Day brunch on Saturday August 15.
Dhs95. The Address Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai (04 438 8610).
Kashmiri nalli gosht at Ananta
This Kashmiri delicacy is a dish of lamb shank (with the bone marrow), which is slow-cooked for a period of three to four hours in a sauce of yoghurt, saffron, fennel and ginger. The dish is finished off with a little saffron oil to give it a rich red colour.
Dhs165. The Oberoi Dubai, Business Bay (04 444 1444).
Khandvi at Anise
The buffet restaurant runs a weekly Asian theme night on Tuesdays, where you’ll find a selection of regional Indian cooking, including several Gujarati street food snacks, such as khandvi. This is a popular little roll made from gram flour, curd and mustard seeds.
Dhs225 (soft drinks), Dhs375 (house beverages). Tue 7pm-11.30pm. Intercontinental Dubai Festival City (04 701 1127).
Lal maas at Zafran
The name of this traditional Rajasthani dish means ‘red meat’. It is typically a spicy dish made with red chillies and wild game meat, which was considered a popular ingredient among Rajasthani royals. At Zafran, the recipe retains its spicy and tangy flavours, but is made with lamb meat.
Dhs59. Dubai Marina Mall (04 399 7357). Other location: Mirdif City Centre (04 284 0987).
Lamb kolhapuri at Armani/Amal
This dish is created by cooking lamb in a mixture of dried coconut and fiery Rajasthani red chillies, which the state is famous for.
Dhs150. Armani Hotel Dubai, Burj Khalifa (04 888 3888).
Lamb potli biryani at Mint Leaf of London, Dubai
One of India’s best known dishes, the biryani is widely considered to originate from the city of Hyderabad. This recipe is a variation on the popular dum biryani, where the rice dish is sealed with a pastry lid before cooking.
Dhs150. South Tower, Emirates Financial Towers, DIFC (04 706 0900).
Mamsam meriyal masala at Rang Mahal by Atul Kochhar
From: Andhra Pradesh
This lamb curry from the southern state of Andhra Pradesh is made with cubes of lamb meat, which are slow-cooked in a mixture of spices from the region, as well as tomatoes, onion and tamarind.
Dhs145. JW Marriott Marquis, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 414 3000).
Martabaan ka meat at Bombay Brasserie
This north-western dish is a lamb curry, which is cooked and served in a traditional clay pickling jar called a ‘martaban’. If you head to Bombay Brasserie, you can also get a 25 percent discount on your total food bill until September 30.
Dhs170. Taj Dubai, Business Bay (04 438 3100).
Masala dosa at Venus
From: Tamil Nadu
Dosas are a form of flatbread-cum-pancake, which are typical to the south of India. They are made with fermented rice flour, which gives them that fluffy, crumpet-like texture. The masala dosa at Venus comes stuffed with a fragrant potato curry in the centre, and teamed with curry sauces and coconut sambal on the side.
Dhs10. Opposite Karama Park, Karama (04 335 2113).
Mutton vindaloo at Kaleidoscope
The name of this dish is famously a corruption of the Portuguese ‘vinha d’alhos’, meaning grape and garlic. In the Goan version, the meat is cooked with garlic and vinegar, giving it its distinctive flavour. Try it at the twice-weekly dinner buffet.
Dhs200 per person. Tue and Thu 6pm-11pm. Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 2000).
Puttu at Calicut Paragon
This stunning yet budget-friendly Keralan restaurant serves a special style of rice cake from the southern province called puttu. The cakes are made with grated coconut and rice flour, which is steamed to form glutinous little cylinders.
Dhs1.50 per cake. Opposite Karama Park, Karama (04 335 8700).
Rasmalai at Biryani Pot
One of India’s best known desserts, this originates from the eastern province of Odisha (formerly known as Orissa). The name, rasmalai, literally means ‘juicy cream’ and is made by soaking balls of paneer cheese in cream.
Dhs10. Jumeirah Beach Road, Umm Suqeim 1 (04 338 2277).
South Indian coffee at House of Curry
From: Tamil Nadu
Come to The Beach to sample the southern Indian style of drinking coffee. The coffee is filtered in such a way as to add aroma, as well as an extra punch of caffeine strength (said to be stronger than espresso). If you like this special Tamil way of drinking coffee, you can also enjoy unlimited refills here for Dhs10.
Dhs10 (with unlimited refills). The Beach at JBR, Dubai Marina (800 692 8779).