If you want a guarantee of a good meal in Dubai, Indian food is perhaps the one cuisine that can consistently deliver high quality across a range of budgets. At the very top of the scale, there is a new generation of five-star eateries that reflect our 21st century obsession with celebrity; Indian chefs with a string of accomplishments at home and in Europe opening establishments here to offer the highest class of dining experience.
Here are the three of the biggest names in Indian cuisine operating in Dubai.
Think of him as India’s Gordon Ramsay, minus the caustic wit. Back in the day when the concept of a celebrity chef was alien on the subcontinent, Kapoor broke fresh ground with his Khana Khazana series on Indian television. The ever-smiling, charming and smooth-talking chef from Delhi curried and fried and roasted and baked his way into the hearts of food loving Indians, garnering an especially large female fan following. It also helped that he simplified Indian cuisine on screen and always had historical anecdotes about the origin of the dishes he was preparing.
In Dubai, his culinary creations can be enjoyed at upscale Signature, which offers some of the finest example of progressive Indian cuisine using a fusion of north and south Indian styles that Kapoor has made famous. The Coconut Prawn Curry and Garlic Nan are recommended. At Options by Sanjeev Kapoor at the Movenpick, the must-try dishes include the stuffed mushroom and Tawa ki Paneer starters and the Dahi ke Kabab for mains.
Khazana is Kapoor’s oldest restaurant brand and presents traditional Indian food including popular street eats from North and South India as well as Indian Chinese – the sub-continental take on India’s trans-Himalayan neighbour.
Rang Mahal, JW Marriott, +971 4 414 3000,
UK-based Indian chef Atul Kochhar is already a legend in his lifetime. One of the first Indian chefs to receive a Michelin star and perhaps the only one to receive a personal invitation to meet both the British Queen and the Indian President during the former’s state visit to India, Kochhar needs no introduction to discerning foodies.
His specialty is a delicate use of spices to bring the subtlety of traditional Indian dishes to the modern global palate, as evidenced by his restaurant Benares in London’s Mayfair.
Kochhar’s Dubai venture: Rang Mahal at the JW Marriott Marquis. Serving North Indian and Mughlai cuisine with a contemporary twist, Rang Mahal, which means ‘palace of colours’ in Hindi, impresses with its opulently traditional décor, its wide variety of paneer dishes and the jumbo prawns cooked Tandoori style. And, by all accounts, the simple Dal Tadka is exceptional.
Ashiana, Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel, +971 4 228 1111,
Indego, Vineet at Grosvenor House, +971 4 399 8888,
With a Michelin-starred restaurant in both London and Geneva, Vineet Bhatia is one of the best-known global faces of modern Indian cuisine. Bhatia’s preparations have garnered praise from some distinguished critics with The Guardian calling it “cooking of the very highest order, creative in a wholly and purely individual way”. Meanwhile in India, he is regarded as one of the finest modern–Indian chefs anywhere with his ability to make “complex flavours clear and harmonious, while keeping dishes light and fresh”, according to the Times of India.
At Ashiana by Vineet at Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel and Towers, the sophistication of Bhatia’s art is amply evident in the Akhroti Gosht, lamb slow cooked for 48 hours with onion, walnut, black cardamom, mace and a variety of other spices. Or in the Achari Jhinga – a tangy, pickled prawn dish. Meanwhile, simpler staples such as Baingan ka Bahrta are no less pleasing as well.
Bhatia’s second Dubai outlet – Indego by Vineet at Grosvenor House – presents a fusion of modern and traditional Indian fare. Try the Kolhapuri Seabass and Lamb Roganjosh, or the vegetarian Almond Tikki. Round it off with a mean Rasmalai dessert and you understand why Bhatia has his Michelin stars.