Previously the Persian Gulf was a frequently known target destination for frantic job seekers and the novel land for dreamers who sought an improved lifestyle. In the 80s, we saw thousands of Indians cross the Indian Ocean and land in this extremely hot, sandy terrain to shape their destinies. As the economy got better, they came back home annually with suitcases full of fragrances of prosperity. Numerous Keralites presumed their life could only be better if they chose to work in the Middle East.
What’s interesting is that out of all the places in the region, Dubai has become the pearl spot with an amalgamation of different cultures and industries. Trading, a meticulously developed tourism industry with world-class hotels and an award-winning airline have changed the face of old Dubai. Equally vibrant cuisines arrived as entertainment industry transformed the land to a world stage. Forget formerly known labour camps with basic canteen food, Dubai is now one of the best eating-out destinations for holiday makers and foodies.
Celebrated chefs and restaurant chains have established their mark in Dubai’s top hotels and crowded streets where people eat out in style and in everyone’s comfort zone. From basic street food to hedonistic cuisines, the city is filled with aromas of amazing food including some of the best flavours from India. Al Karama adjacent to Dubai Creek is the hub of Indian community and a haven for simple, homely food. I visited the city sometime ago. Arriving early in the day, I was eager for a delicious breakfast. My host Unni had a plan already, a brief tour of Dubai’s street food and I was surprised at the terrific quality of the food here.
We took off straight to Unni’s favourite south Indian joint Vasanta Bhavan for the first meal. Knowing my fondness, he ordered idlis with vadais. The idli was flawlessly white and spongy served with a modestly flavoured coconut chutney and freshly aromatic sambar, while the vadai was brilliant too, crispy exterior with soft and spicy inside.
After a short break, we continued our culinary journey along Dubai’s Al Karama. Chatori Gali is a newish north Indian restaurant from Delhi where gastronomy expert, Abhi Mohan, claimed one could taste the best aloo paratha and samosa in town. True to his word, varieties of stuffed parathas melted in our mouth with the oozing flavours of homemade pickles and chutneys. Samosa tasted authentic and the chhole bhature was heavenly.
These two meals summed up the quality and mouth-watering flavours of Dubai and their rules are strict for running a restaurant business. What fascinated me most was the cleanliness of every big and small eatery and freshness of dishes, service looked equally imaginative and genuinely caring. In fact, these two aspects are so important for successful food business and we are slightly behind in making sure the consistency of attention when we serve people. We are blessed with better quality ingredients in our country, but our laws are too lenient on mistakes and people tend to exploit loopholes.
Dubai offers dining options based on your comfort zone and capacity. The ethnic community enjoys their get-togethers by eating out and meals are superb wherever one chooses to go. As ever, good company adds more value and taste to your meal. Dubai’s expat community is brilliant in making their life beautiful and blissfully share a piece of their emotional life story with you over a meal in their favourite restaurants. A night-out in Dubai will give you all excitements of an Arabian dream, it’s a city warm and well-lit with a fascinating modern lifestyle—a combination of east and west. The author runs the London-based Rasa chain of restaurants