These are the 23 best curry houses in Dubai
What makes Dubai curries great? Maybe it’s our sizeable population and proximity to South Asia. Maybe it’s diversity, with Michelin star chef-run restaurants, molecular offerings, and top-notch hole-in-the-walls battling it out to satiate our spicy needs. One thing’s for certain – few other cities can boast as wide a curry collection. For the best of the ever changing curry landscape in Dubai, consult this list of outstanding curry houses.
KINGS IN KARAMA
Move over Brick Lane – outside of India and Pakistan, Karama is the curry capital.
1. Rasoi Ghar
You don’t read a menu here – you just sit down, have your hands washed with a fancy silver jug and start eating. And eat you will. It’s unlimited vegetarian thali-style food for just Dhs45 a person. The menu changes every day of the year – yes, they have 365 variations. On the last visit highlights included the not-too-oily samosa with a triumphant tamarind chutney (we ate four), the fresh, tangy cabbage curry and the moreish and rich kidney bean and cashew curry. The waiters are pushy in an Indian mother – yet charming – way, imploring you to eat more. It’s so good you’re unlikely to turn them away too often.
Zainal Mohebi Plaza, Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Road, opposite BurJuman, Karama, Dubai, daily noon until 3.30pm, 7pm to 11.15pm. Tel: (04) 3885711, Metro: ADCB. rasoighar.ae
2. Mahesh Lunch Home
Mahesh Lunch Home is known for its seafood. We recommend the prawns malabar curry (Dhs63), a traditional Kerala dish with a subtly spicy flavour and a creamy coconut milk base. Order plenty of butter naan (Dhs6) to soak up all that gravy. The service isn’t the speediest, but at least you know it’s all being freshly prepared, and the food is worth the wait.
Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Road, near Park Regis Kris Kin, Karama, Dubai, Sat to Wed noon until 3.30pm, 7.30pm to 12.30am, Thur and Fri noon until 3.30pm, 7.30pm to 1.30am. Tel: (04) 3968087. Metro: ADCB. maheshlunchhome.ae
3. Calicut Paragon
Some say that seafood is Calicut’s speciality; we say they are good at whatever they pound their curry leaves into. Take the chicken malabari dish (Dhs20), for example. It’s literally dripping in roasted coconut and coriander-flavoured curry that’s so pungent and tasty you’ll proudly lick the bowl clean.
Mattar Al Tayer Building, 20B Street, Karama, Dubai, daily 7.30am to 12.30am. Tel: (04) 43358700. Taxi: opposite LuLu Hypermarket. paragonrestaurant.net
4. Maharaja Bhog
Here, the tabletops shine with stainless-steel platters, each one decorated with nine stainless steel cups. A smorgasboard of curries are served at this vegetable thali from spicy potato and spinach and fenugreek, to a buttery, yellow dhal. Best bit? For Dhs43 it’s all you can eat.
3A Street, Karama, Dubai, daily noon until 3.15pm, 7pm to 11pm. Tel: (04) 3964744. Metro: BurJuman. maharajabhog.com
5. Karachi Darbar
Mention Karachi Darbar to any veteran Dubai expat and they’ll probably give a nostalgic sigh and spin a yarn about being able to dine out on less than Dhs20. With change. The fact is that this Karama institute is still very budget friendly. We love the new mutton kadai (Dhs20): tender morsels of lamb kebab simmering in a rich, spicy tomato gravy, garnished with fresh coriander and ginger. Try the aloo paratha (Dhs3), a crisp flatbread stuffed with a generous helping of curried potato, for a carb-heavy dish.
Karama Shopping Complex, Dubai, daily 5am to 2am. Tel: (04) 3347272. Metro: ADCB. karachidarbargroup.com
6. The Curry Lane
More of a café than a restaurant, The Curry Lane is billed as selling the best vegetarian Indian street food. Pull up a pew and sip on a coffee shake or sweet lassi while you peruse the select menu. For a light dinner, try the pav bhaji (Dhs24); the heart-warming flavours of the thick buttery curry and finely chopped vegetables are even better when you mop up the gravy with the small fried rolls. Whack up the comfort factor by ordering the cheese pav bhaji.
Al Doha Street, Karama, Dubai, Sat to Thur 8am to 3pm, 5pm to 11pm, Fri 8am to 11.30am, 5pm to 11pm. Tel: (04) 3967171. Metro: BurJuman. facebook.com/thecurrylane
7. Indian Summer Restaurant
All dark wood and sleek furnishings, this smart curry house manages to be both sophisticated and family-friendly. The menu holds a long list of North Indian curries and ordering its best-selling classic chicken tikka masala (Dhs44) gets you a hefty portion of barbequed meat sautéed in a tomato and onion gravy. Meals starts with poppadums and, for mains, we say skip the rice and order a basket of thick hot roti – they’re delicious.
Al Khafajy Building, 17th Street, Karama, Dubai, daily 11am to midnight. Tel: (04) 3426760. Metro: BurJuman. indiansummeruae.com
8. Jaffer Bhai’s
Who’s Jaffer Bhai, you ask? Only the Biryani King of Mumbai. Or so he says. Aside from his famous rice offerings, the menu offers some delicious curries including the patiala chicken (Dhs31). The creamy cashew-based gravy is not too heavy on the spices and has bite-size chicken pieces that melt in your mouth. It would be remiss not to order a biryani too. We suggest the vegetarian one.
Zabeel Road, Karama, Dubai, daily noon until 4pm, 7pm to midnight. Tel: (04) 3426467. Metro: BurJuman. jafferbhaisrestaurant.ae
THE POSH ONES
Think curries are just a gloopy takeout option? Not at these classy spots.
9. Rang Mahal By Atul Kochhar
Rang Mahal is a multi award-winner and rightly so – the food is exceptional, particularly the ‘Tenjiku To Tokyo’ tasting menu. It’s a highly inventive journey through Indian spices and we dare you not to fall in love with celeb chef Kochhar’s nadan chemeen curry (Dhs155). You’ll be dreaming about Malabar shrimp with coconut, curry leaf, ginger and fennel lasooni for days.
JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, daily 6pm to 11.30pm. Tel: (04) 4143000. Metro: Business Bay. marquisdubailife.com
Focusing on the royal cuisines traditionally served to India’s maharajas, Ananta’s curries are distinctly high end. The shahi nehari (Dhs155), lamb shanks cooked overnight in a turmeric and onion gravy, are among the most tender we’ve tasted, while the Rajasthani specialty of baby lamb curry smoked over charcoal is pretty special too.
The Oberoi Dubai, Business Bay, Dubai, Sun to Thur 12.30pm to 3pm, 7pm to 11.30pm, Sat 7pm to 11.30pm Tel: (04) 4441407. Taxi: The Oberoi. oberoihotels.com
Creative, perfectly cooked Indian food in a modern setting elevates Amal above all but a few Indian restaurants in the city. The classics you know and love (vindaloo, murgh makhni, rogan josh, etc) are cooked by top chefs and beautifully presented. Be sure to try the nalli nehari (Dhs150), too. The lamb shank simmered in a rich onion and yoghurt sauce is the chef’s most popular dish.
Armani Hotel, Burj Khalifa, Downtown Dubai, Dubai, daily 7pm to 11pm. Tel: (04) 8883888. Metro: Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall. armanihotels.com
12. Ashiana By Vineet
Another destination restaurant from acclaimed chef Vineet Bhatia, Ashiana, which means ‘happy home’, serves a host of delicious dishes designed to recall home cooking across the different regions of India. The akhroti gosht (Dhs105), lamb slow-cooked with onions, toasted walnuts, black cardamom and mace, is particularly good.
Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel And Towers, Baniyas Street, Dubai Creek, Dubai, Sun to Thur noon until 3pm, 7pm to 11pm, Sat 7pm to 11pm. Tel: (04) 2071733. Metro: Al Rigga. ashianadubai.com
The Souk Madinat’s acclaimed Indian restaurant has been serving some of the city’s best curries for more than a decade now, with a host of classic dishes on the menu. The murgh Hyderabadi (Dhs100), slow-cooked chicken in spiced yoghurt with nuts, fresh mint and saffron, is delicious – just be sure to order extra naan for all that sauce.
Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Al Sufouh Road, Dubai, daily noon until midnight. Tel: (04) 3686506. Taxi: Souk Madinat Jumeirah. ushnadubai.com
14. Patiala By Kunal Kapur
Indian celebrity chef Kunal Kapur is famed for his fusion cuisine, melding classic Indian flavours with international techniques. While many will love their fusion dishes, there’s a list of curry favourites for traditionalists too. For spice wimps, the butter chicken (Dhs120) is grand. With a nod to Punjabi cuisine, Patiala’s successful take on this mild curry is down to carefully chosen tart tomatoes, butter and fresh cream.
Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai, Dubai, daily 12.30pm to 2am. Tel: (04) 4519151. Metro: Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall. patiala.ae
15. Indego By Vineet
Multi-Michelin-starred chef Vineet Bhatia’s Dubai outpost is a fine example of Indian cuisine and stands out in a city boasting a glut of quality Indian restaurants. Our favourite dish has to be the lamb Gucci korma (Dhs285). The tender lamb is soaked in a stew tempered with curry leaves and truffle oil.
Grosvenor House Dubai, Al Sufouh Road, Dubai Marina, Dubai, daily 7pm to midnight. Tel: (04) 3176000. Metro: Damac Properties. indegobyvineet.com
They might not be of the gravy variety, but these magnificent molecular meals should be part of your curry bucket list.
When it comes to molecular gastronomy in Dubai, Tresind has dominated the scene for some time. One of Tresind’s best dishes is its take on chaat (Dhs150), which is wheeled over on a trolley by a chef who chaotically sprinkles crackers, sponge cake (which has been plunged into liquid nitrogen), crumbled Indian nachos, fried spinach, pomegranate, Bombay mix and yoghurt on to a large sheet. The end result looks like a Jackson Pollock masterpiece that’s almost too good to eat. Fusion Indian is de rigueur at Tresind, and the chili hoisin duck (Dhs150), served daintily in small dim-sum steamed baskets alongside a miniature clothesline of pegged pancakes, is the ultimate example in fusion cuisine. Tender slices of duck marinated in khurchan, a tandoori flavour cooked with tomatoes, peppers and onions, is stuffed into miniature pancakes and eaten in one go. The texture is all too familiar, but the flavour is unique – slightly smokey with a sweet bite.
Nassima Royal Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, daily 12.30pm to 3pm, 7pm to midnight. Tel: (04) 3080440. Metro: World Trade Centre. tresind.com
17. Spice & Ice
JLT’s molecular gastronomic emporium is somewhat of a hidden gem. Aside from a slightly gimmicky molecular gastronomy station serving food globules and icy street food snacks, the menu is actually terrific with a collection of unusual dishes. We’re talking masala soda soft shell crab (Dhs60), Indian ratatouille (Dhs58) and murgh ke parchey (Dhs44), a tenderised chicken dish marinated in garlic and yoghurt served with a cheese fondue alongside a chilly waffle cone. The latter is served as four juicy chunks of chicken, which are beautifully presented, charred around the edges and perfectly tender. Don’t be shy to dip it into the salty melted cheese together with a forkful of crispy chilli waffle. It’s weird but winning.
Cluster A, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai, daily noon until 1am. Tel: (050) 5529686. Metro: JLT. facebook.com/spiceandicedxb
18. Carnival by tresind
Tresind’s little brother arrives in Dubai this month hoping to make an impact on the progressive Indian dining scene. Run by Indian chefs, each with their own experience in fine-dining establishments across Europe and Asia, Carnival whips up an unusual range of fusion food. Keep an eye out for our review in the October issue of What’s On magazine.
Burj Daman, DIFC, Dubai, daily noon to 12.30am Tel: (04) 4218665. Taxi: Burj Daman. facebook.com/carnivalbytresind
WHAT’S ON‘S FAVOURITE TAKEAWAYS
19. Saravanaa Bhojan Shala
Why: While it’s still struggle to say its name, this local has the tastiest (and cheapest) curries in the Marina. Its massive menu takes some navigating but it’s perfect for veggies. They’ve also got a huge selection of dosas and breads – just steer clear of the Chinese dishes.
Order: palak paneer (Dhs17.50)
Marina Pearl Building, Dubai Marina, Dubai, Sat to Thur 7.30am to 11.30pm, Fri 7.30am to midnight. Tel: (04) 4512525. Taxi: Dubai Marina. saravanaabhojan.com
20. Ravi Restaurant
Why: Ravi is a Dubai favourite, and for good reason, too. They have one of the best mutton curries in town. While the original restaurant is in Satwa, the branch in Al Nahda is the one to go to when you get late night munchies – it’s open until 3am, and you don’t even need to leave the driver’s seat. Just honk your horn and the guys will take your order from the car.
Order: mutton peshawari (Dhs20)
Next to Dubai Women’s College, Baghdad Street, Al Nahda, Dubai, daily 5am to 3am. Tel: (04) 3315353. Taxi: Dubai Women’s College
21. Memsaab Curry & Tandoor
Why: It’s the chicken tikka that keeps us coming back to this place. In other restaurants you might find a platter of dried-out meat, but here it’s all about hearty, juicy chunks coated in the creamiest marinade that still has a decent kick. They also do a mean dal makhani and their butter chicken is the best in town.
Order: butter chicken (Dhs34)
J2 Tower, Cluster J, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai, daily noon until 11pm. Tel: (04) 4429816. Metro: JLT. twitter.com/memsaabfood
Why: While we love a good curry, we sometimes wimp out when it comes to a proper kick of spiciness. Which is why we love the prawn coconut curry at Zafran, a wonderfully mild, creamy curry that doesn’t compromise on flavour (or skimp on the prawns). We also recommend the palak paneer, a vegetarian curry that even meat eaters will love.
Order: prawn coconut curry (Dhs64)
Dubai Marina Mall, Dubai, Sat to Wed noon until 11pm, Thur and Fri noon until midnight. Tel: (04) 3997357. Metro: JLT. zafranrestaurants.com
Why: There are loads of Gazebo restaurants in town, but the one in Mankhool is great. It’s mainly an Indian crowd there, which is always a good sign. Their takeaway is brilliant too.The mutton chops are really good, but when it comes to curries its the paneer jalfrezi, with its sweet and sour sauce, that’s our favourite.
Order: paneer jalfrezi (Dhs27)
Kuwait Street, Al Mankhool, Bur Dubai, Dubai, daily noon until 11.45pm. Tel: (04) 3598555. Taxi: near Majestic Hotel Tower Dubai. gazebo.ae