India Republic Day: Bur Dubai restaurant says 'patriotic nostalgia' is secret of success

Indian Coffee House is so popular among its fan base that it is now open 24 hours a day

Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

The hype was overwhelming when Indian Coffee House first opened in Dubai in 2021, with a grand launch at the Mankhool flagship attended by a throng of eager foodies. It helped, of course, that Malayalam superstar Manju Warrier was on hand for the ceremonial ribbon cutting.

Since then, the Bur Dubai restaurant, which was originally established in Qatar in 2004, has been on a mission to evoke "patriotic nostalgia".

"We convey this to each guest through our food as well as our vintage-style interiors," Alka Meera Sunny, the restaurant's business development manager, tells The National. Case in point: one wall in the restaurant is covered in a sepia-tinged mural of Mumbai's gothic-style Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, better known as Victoria Terminus.

A mural of yesteryear Bombay's Victoria Terminus takes up a whole wall in Indian Coffee House. Pawan Singh / The National

The restaurant also boasts an extensive menu in an attempt to capture the vastness of Indian cuisine, "from the highlands of the northern frontier to the shoreline of the south", Sunny adds.

Some of its bestsellers include butter chicken masala, mutton rogan josh, Hyderabadi and Malabar biryanis, Delhi chaat and mango fish curry. Its price point is also affordable for many residents, averaging less than Dh100 for two people. A chicken biryani costs Dh15, and an order of a butter chicken is Dh28.

The idea is to appeal to Indian expatriates "who have always cherished the dreams of their home towns", says Sunny.

Authenticity at its heart

The UAE's food and drinks scene is diverse in its cultural make-up, but India is a melting pot of its own, with varying traditions, ethnic groups, climate and produce, making it impossible to homogenise the country's culinary heritage.

For Indian Coffee House, carefully sourced ingredients - specific spices, regional herbs et al - play a big role in serving authentic delicacies. True to its name, the restaurant also pays homage to the nation's massive coffee industry. It serves tea and coffee, with beans directly sourced from the South Asian country, which is one of the biggest coffee producers in the world.

Tea being poured Indian-style in the Bur Dubai restaurant. Pawan Singh / The National

So popular is the restaurant among its growing fan base that it is now open 24 hours a day, and also plans to expand within malls across the UAE. Sunny associates this success with the team's sentimental approach to serving Indian food. The dishes not only pack lip-smacking flavours, but also deliver a taste of home, she says.

Updated: January 25, 2023, 7:32 AM