Dubai is a veritable foodie wonderland, whatever cuisine you’re craving, you can usually satisfy it with authentic aplomb in one of the city’s diverse dining districts.
Words by Sherry Aggarwal
And there’s little else that feeds the soul as fully as street food. From the late-night Brooklyn pizza slice to sticky meat skewers of the Khao San Road, Neapolitan gelato or even Dubai’s own shawarma. These popular fast food staples hold an important place in our shared culture – grand traditions of ritual, disregarded cutlery, and best friends stealing handfuls of fries.
There are few nations where this culture is as well established as it is in India. Which is why we’ve assembled some of our favourite Indian or Indian-interpreted street food vendors in Dubai. On our list we have mouth-watering vada paos with a twist; a falafel that has its own specific flavour; sweet churros – ‘Jalebi’ back in India; an interesting take on pani puri; and last but not least, a calorie and taste heavyweight – cheese and garlic parathas. Get those forks ready!
O’ Pao In Karama
This newly opened small eatery in Karama is giving a seriously delicious makeover to Mumbai’s favourite street food – vada pao (an Indian slider). There are 16 different varieties including Punjabi butter chicken, schezwan Maggi and seekh kebab paos – the menu is bursting with flavour.
The eatery has given the humble Indian pao an entirely new wardrobe of flamboyant fillings. Even the pao bun itself, into which all the different flavours are stuffed, becomes an attraction with Insta-worthy ‘O’Pao’ stamp on top.
With average costs at around AED 15 this Karama hot-spot is a must-visit.
Shop 14, Ground Floor, Abdul Salaam Building, behind Park Regis Hotel, Street 2 B, Al Karama. 04 526 0578.
Jalebi At Chatori Gali
This pure vegetarian North Indian restaurant has outlets in Barsha and Jumeirah Lakes Towers and has brought some culinary fuego to the Jalebi game. Sample some of the most crispy, thin, fresh, fragrant and golden Jalebi you’re likely to find anywhere.
Jalebi is made with a special batter, fried and traditionally served with syrup or creamy rabri. These churro-esque sweet treats are not the most diet-friendly snack, but if you and your Jalebi date are on a cheat night – you’ll find plenty here to make it all worthwhile.
Portions from AED 18.
Shop 6, Ground Floor, Al Raha Building, Opposite City Max Hotel, Street Al Seedaf 1, Al Barsha. 04 379 2934.
Falafel At Farisian Cafeteria In Meena Bazaar
Don’t compare food prices in your home country with those in Dubai. Says almost every expat that’s never sampled the wondrous falafel at Farisian Cafeteria. This hole-in-the-wall cafeteria in Meena Bazaar, Old Dubai serves up some of the best falafel you’ll find in our city, and all for only AED 3.
Despite having only three items on the menu (also featured are samosas and pakora), you’ll almost always find a queue here. One further curiosity to note – we strongly suspect the falafel is not made (at least exclusively) from chickpeas. The fact that it tastes so good, both inspires guessing games and booking in a second visit.
Dishes from AED 3.
Near Choithram Supermarket, Street 44 B, Meena Bazaar. 050 757 9453.
Chocolate Pani Puris At Kulfi House
A sweet plate like no other…this restaurant found in the buzzy lanes of Karama has some serious kulfi credentials. But the real gem that we go back for over and again is their chocolate pani puri. The crepe-like mixture is dipped in chocolate syrup, frozen and served with delicious creamy rabri along with generous sprinkles of pistachio shavings. Go on, order another, nobody would blame you.
Price: around AED 20
Shop 3, Ground Floor, Jamal Omar Bin Hyder Building, 4 B Street, Al Karama. 04 886 6878.
Cheese and Garlic Paratha at Paratha King
This North Indian pure vegetarian restaurant has four outlets across Dubai and serves near to 100 varieties of Punjabi parathas.
Our all-time favourite of theirs is the cheese garlic option. Prepare for epic cheese pulls, creamy fondant over-spill and big robust savoury flavours rolling over your palate. Best served with pickle and dahi (curd). You’re welcome.
Dish price: AED 15
Shop 6 A, Building 12, Al Falak Street, Dubai Internet City. 04 445 6977.