The best Indian restaurants in Dubai
The city is bursting with delicious flavours from the subcontinent
Dubai is known for its vibrant food scene and, thanks to longstanding links between the emirate and the Indian subcontinent, it’s home to a host of incredible Indian, Pakistani and other subcontinental restaurants. Whether you’re after an authentic and affordable meal from an understated spot, or some high-end fusion food from a fancy hotel restaurant, you’ll find it and more in Dubai.
If you’re someone who wouldn’t expect much from a restaurant found in a mall, Zafran Indian Bistro will prove you wrong. Both its branches are inside Dubai shopping centres, but it’s a far cry from food court fare. Focusing on Northwest Indian cuisine, Zafran’s serves fall-off-the-skewer boti kebabs, incredible curries including chicken tikka, laal maas (a spicy lamb curry), and prawn coconut curry, and buttery naans and biryanis. Plus, both locations have gorgeous waterfront views so you’re not staring at a Zara while you eat.
Dubai Marina Mall; Mirdif City Centre
You can tell this colourful venue in Barsha Heights is going to be a lot of fun as soon as you see the multi-mirrored motorcycle sitting at its entrance. It’s Bollywood themed, meaning you’ll find a shedload of puns on the menu and dishes are served with theatrics (when you order the Baklava 2.0 the waiter crumbles a liquid nitrogen-frozen rose onto your pastry). The cuisine contains influences from all across India (and, in some cases, the rest of the world), combining nostalgic flavours with modern presentation.
The Grand Millennium Hotel Dubai, Barsha Heights; City Centre Mirdif
If you’ve got a hankering for South Indian fare but don’t want to spend a lot, try the fuss-free Calicut Paragon. High demand for its Kerala cuisine has led to the opening of two Dubai branches, where you can try specialist dishes such as Alleppey chicken and fish steamed in banana leaf, as well as curries and biryanis from the South. Be sure to have some filter coffee when you stop by. It might sound like an odd recommendation, but this place does a particularly good cup of joe.
Karama, Dubai; Al Nahda
We’d be remiss if we didn’t include this high-end restaurant in the list. It’s widely considered the best Indian restaurant in the UAE, and even placed at number 18 during the inaugural MENA’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards. At its helm is the innovative Chef Himanshu Saini, who reimagines Indian favourites. Think crispy okra salad with yoghurt, chicken tikka chaat, and chimichurri chutney, all presented in a fantastical way that would look at home on any influencer’s Instagram feed. Those looking for an even more exclusive experience can try Trèsind Studio, a special 20-seater chef’s table experience.
Voco Hotel, Level 2, Sheikh Zayed Road
Coming from the Hindi word for ‘mischief’ or ‘fun’, Masti certainly lives up to its name. The food is a fusion of Indian and Western flavours, meaning you’ll find offbeat combos like butter chicken pizza, saag paneer lasagna or tamarind BBQ beef ribs on the menu. Despite the playful food, this is undoubtedly an upscale restaurant (hence the high prices). It’s located along the La Mer beachfront in the swanky Jumeirah 1 neighbourhood and has an outdoor space with views across the Arabian Gulf.
La Mer, Jumeirah
As you might be able to guess from the name, this casual eatery combines eggs and Indian street food. It may seem an unusual mash-up but it’s no yolk – people love Raju Omlet’s mind-boggling variety of eggy dishes, which include half-fry regulars, omelettes, boiled eggs with masala, an Indianised eggs Benedict and more. It’s no surprise this place is a local favourite for breakfast, though there are also a number of curries, naans and rice dishes on the menu for those looking for a midday or evening meal.
Al Quoz; Al Karama
Indya may have opened just over two years ago, but it has already earned rave reviews. Little wonder it’s had such success, though, since it’s headed up by Vineet Bhatia, the first Indian chef to be awarded a Michelin star. While it’s undoubtedly a top-end restaurant, Indya is anything but stuffy. Everything from its bright murals to its mind-blowing food is full of personality and flavour. Samosa pinwheels, tandoori cauliflower roast, Kerala fried chicken and black pepper jaggary chicken popcorn are just some of the many reasons you need to pay this place a visit.
Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa, Al Mamsha St, Dubai Marina
Don’t be fooled by the name – Mint Leaf of London is actually one of Dubai’s oldest Indian fine dining venues. Popular among locals, the DIFC restaurant has garnered a great reputation for its elevated take on classic Indian food. There are loads of vegetarian options, such as tandoori portobello and chimichurri paneer, while non-veggies can enjoy dishes such as the basil cod tikka and smoked butter chicken with sour cream. All this, and great views of Dubai’s glittering skyline from glass walls? It’s pretty mint.
Emirates Financial Towers, 15th floor, South Tower, DIFC