India Palace (Dubai)

Sometimes, just sometimes, I feel sorry for people who travel with me. Visiting another city means an opportunity to try new restaurants, indulge in other cuisines, and taste something different from what we have at home. So, while visiting Dubai, I had three requests to try Emirati cuisine, local Indian food, and non-fancy shawarma.

After a couple of days of ‘friendly’ reminders, an opportunity finally presented itself to have Indian food in a residential neighbourhood. We would be visiting a friend of my travel companion (“M”) and after begging for something Indian, she suggested Indian Palace: the restaurant has an extensive menu, it’s delicious, and it’s ‘safe’ for our foreign stomachs.

Set in a strip plaza, off a highway, the large flashing signs and ample parking spots brought me to an area of Dubai that already felt homier. Things weren’t opulent and glitzy. Don’t go expecting valet services, although you can still get a car wash from proprietors lugging buckets.

M wasn’t kidding when she said there’s a lot of choice at Indian Palace… it took forever to get through the menu and settle on four dishes. We decided to start with the tandoori lal jhinga (AED69) or a skillet of grilled shrimp marinated with herbs and tandoori masala. It’s a simple but tasty dish, although I would have liked more of the kashmiri chillies, noted on the menu, for something spicier.

The dum ka zafrani murgh (AED42) had more pizazz. Pieces of chicken were cooked with a saffron almond sauce in a sealed pot. The nuts were finely ground, so it adds a creaminess to the gravy as well as a light nuttiness. It’s a dish in the same vein as butter chicken, but without the tomato sauce and heaviness, so you don’t feel bad having seconds and thirds.

I could have an entire order of the murgh biryani dum wala (AED44) to myself. At Indian Palace, they cook the rice in a vessel covered with bread, creating a dome that seals in juices so the biryani is moister and remains hotter than normal. It’s aromatic and flavourful, two things I was craving that evening, so this dish fully satisfied.

The biryani had everything the dal tadka (AED22) lacked. The lentils may have incorporated a bit of cumin and garlic, but otherwise was flat and boring, hardly adding a dent of taste to the rice or naan.

For dessert, the shahi tukda (AED19) was a nice change from the typical sugary choices. To clarify, the rabdi (a saffron and rose water syrup) the rectangles of dense bread sat in was, of course, sweet. However, the sweetness was controlled, and the slivers of pistachios added a nice savoury crunch.

At the end, the meal starts and ends the same way: with a golden vessel filled with things to taste and try. In the beginning, it’s filled with chutneys and pickles to smear onto crispy papadum. To end, it’s filled with licoricey seeds, sugar, and fenugreek to calm the stomach and promote digestion. Finally, the tastes of India I hoped to experience was at last checked off the list.  

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
 Address: Al Garhoud, Near Le Meridien Fairway

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!