UAE is a beautiful country with breathtaking scenery and architecture, a rich culture, and an impressive history but traditional emirati food is a rich source of national pride. Food is one of the sincerest expressions of a culture. It defines a local culture, reflecting ideas about the people, their economy, history, and tradition. Trying the local food when you’re traveling is a great way to experience the local culture.
Emirati cuisine consists of aromatic dishes flavored by a wealth of spices and herbs like saffron, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, and thyme. And, of course, Arabic coffee and dates are considered integral to the Emirati culture and hospitality.
And here is the ultimate list of traditional Emirati foods to whet your appetite on your trip to Dubai.
Balaleat is popular Emirati sweet-and-salty breakfast dish.
This dish can be served either cold or hot, and consists of vermicelli that is sweetened by rose water, saffron, and cardamom, topped with an egg omelet and garnished with some pistachios before serving.
Harees is one of the most popular traditional foods in the Emirati kitchen. This porridge-like dish isancient and most often eaten during important family gatherings, such as weddings, as well as at national and religious holidays, particularly during the Holy Month of Ramadan.
This dish is a mixture of dried wheat kernels and meat, cooked together until they are soft enough to whip into a pudding-like texture. It is then served with local ghee spooned on top.
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Manakish (also pronouned as Manaeesh) is a round, flat bread topped with olive oil, cheese and zaatar (sesame seeds, thyme, and sumac). Other toppings include labneh (a soft yogurt cheese) and sausage with cheese, as well as a ground beef mixture.
No Emirati cuisine would ever be complete without Machboos. Also known as Kabsa, this traditional dish is made with rice (usually basmati), meat, vegetables, and a mixture of spices. The meats used are usually chicken, goat, lamb, camel, fish, beef or shrimp. Dried lemon is added in the rice while cooking that gives a unique taste to the dish.
This is undoubtedly the most popular traditional Emirati dessert. These are sweet fried dumplings made of milk, sugar, butter, and flour and covered in date syrup known as dibbs, that is delicately soft inside and crispy outside. The dish is garnished with sesame seeds. An absolutely delicious treat that you won’t be able to get enough of.
This is a classic dish made of pumpkin. Also known as Aseeda Bobbar, pumpkin is combined with ingredients such as flour, saffron, cardamom, sugar or honey and rosewater.
They are the Emirati Saffron Pancakes. Chebab come from the name cheb which means flipping over, As this pancake is flipped over and cooked they are Chebab. The batter is prepared using flour, yeast, milk, sugar, salt, eggs, turmeric, cardamom, and saffron. This mix is then poured into a greased pan, and its two sides are cooked over medium heat before it is served hot with cream, cheese, or butter as well as honey or date syrup.
Regag is an Emirati flat bread that is crispy and is served with eggs, cheese, nutella, fish sauce and chips.
The word Regag comes from the word “raga” meaning “thin”. The bread is made with waterless dough and mostly served for breakfast/dinner.
During Ramadan, the Regag bread is cooked daily to accompany Tharid.
Tharid, this Emirati Lamb stew is similar to a Moroccan tagine. It combines the rich flavours of meat and potatoes with vegetables. The word tharīd also refers to a large earthenware bowl.
Also known as Thareed, it can be made with lamb, chicken, and also with just vegetables. It is traditionally served with Regag. Tharid is heavily-seasoned, melt-in-your-mouth meat dish.
As you can say by now, rice and meat are the popular ingredients in Emirati cuisine. Maqluba is yet another savory rice dish. The word maqluba literally means “upside-down” and refers to the way the dish is flipped upside down to serve it. It’s a delicious hearty meal with its beautiful way of presentation.
The main ingredients are rice, vegetables and meat. The vegetables used in maqluba are eggplant, potato, and cauliflower. Chicken and Lamb are the preferred meats.
The unique thing about this dish is how it is carefully layered in a pot with vegetables, meat and rice and then cooked, then flipped upside down onto a giant serving plate. It is then garnished with pine nuts and served with plain yogurt and salad.