From its bronze sculptured arches and plush purple chairs to the thoughtfully crafted Diwali menu, Junoon exudes the passion its Urdu name stands for. Celebrity chef Vikas Khanna’s Michelin-starred eatery at the Shangri-La is serving detailed veg and non-veg four-course menus that’ll leave you craving seconds. Nosh on novelty appetisers such as zimikand ki shikampuri (pan-seared yam cake, date tamarind chutney, avocado masala), bhutta Amritsari (baby corn, mango powder, coriander chilli pesto) and Rampuri machi (black cod, black pepper, wasabi mayonnaise) that throw an Indian twist on foreign flavours. Main attractions like murgh rezala, jhinga vindaloo and Kashmiri kofta will fill you up, so go easy. Dessert is malai gujia – a magnum opus of coconut, assorted nuts, rasgulla and rabri foam that will whisper sweet nothings to your palate long after the plates have been cleared. From Dh225. Call 04 405 2717. From October 27-30
Antique Bazaar, Four Points by Sheraton, Bur Dubai
Old is gold and Antique Bazaar knows the truth this adage holds, recreating age-old Mughal recipes masterfully in an ambience as royal, grand and ornate as the era its food is from – golden goblets, plop latticed couches and jhoolas (swings) and a vibrant cocoon of embroidered textiles await. Diwali is meted out the royal treatment too in this glorious restaurant tucked away in Old Dubai. A set veg and non-veg menu delights with an assortment of tried-and-tasted favourites that can never go wrong – quenchers like lime and mango lassi, warming murgh kaali mirch ka shorba, crunchy moong dal pakore, sweet and creamy angoori malai kofta and currylicious murgh tikka lababdar. In authentic regal style the roti ki tokri and dessert platter leave you spoilt for choice with moong dal halwa, pista rasmalai, gajjer halwa and gulab jamun. Our suggestion? Devour them all – you can never have too much of a good thing! Dh140 (veg) and Dh160 (non-veg). October 29 to 31. Call 04 397 7444.
Armani/Amal, Burj Khalifa
The glittering backdrop of Downtown Dubai – like a million diyas lit at once – and a vantage point of the Dubai Fountain from Burj Khalifa’s third floor alone tips the balance in for Amal as our go-to Diwali destination. Special occasions deserve special venues, right? However, chef Ashwani and team have gone the extra mile and thrown in a sparkling three-course sharing menu of signature vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes that have us rooting for this stylish eatery. Staying true to their Italian roots while upholding Indian flavours, dishes like crispy green pea and burrata cheese patties, sweet basil and black peppered chicken tikka thighs that are spicy without being fiery, and creamy Goan prawns fuse the best of the two time-honoured cuisines.
If dreamy desserts such as jalebi with rabri and saffron rasmalai won’t put you in a trance, the combination of soulful strains of live tabla music and classy decor in true-blue Armani style will leave you spellbound. Dh300 (veg), Dh350 (non-veg). October 30-November 5. Call 04 888 3666
Flow Kitchen, Fairmont The Palm
This international restaurant at Fairmont The Palm is a culinary chameleon that adopts the style and quality of themes and festivals brilliantly. Diwali is no different, with the restaurant pulling out all the stops for an authentic experience with their Diwali Experience buffet. Dazzling diyas and vivid rangoli will welcome you, and the traditional trend continues with chaat and desserts stations with live cooking stations so you have all the theatrics of a Bollywood entertainer to complete the illusion. Ladies, when your hands find time off from plating up on delicious aloo papdi chaat, prawn hariyali tikka, mutton lal maas, phirni and shahi tukda, the complimentary henna artist on venue will adorn them with festive designs. On October 30. Dh215 per person. Call 04 457 34 or email Palm.Dining@Fairmont.com
Farzi Café, Citywalk Phase 2 Dubai
What makes festivals memorable? Desserts. And what are great desserts made of? Sugar, spice and molecular delights. At least that’s the conclusion the golden-walled and sleek Dubai outpost of Delhi restaurant Farzi Café has come up with. Thinking out of the box as always, innovative restaurateur Zorawar Kalra’s brainchild is giving mains a miss and pays homage to Diwali’s sugary specialities with a dessert menu. The trifecta of treats that make the cut and undergo a molecular transformation are rasmalai tres leches with carrot cream and a garnish of rose petal net, semolina banana cake with saffron and pistachio ice cream with toffee sauce and homemade saffron and pistachio ice cream, and last but lavish jalebi in the form of caviar layered in condensed milk with pistachio and drenched in frothy saffron foam. Call 04 394 2556.