Lebanese, Iranian, and even Indian flavors come together in emeriti cooking, which features both vegetarian and meat-based options. Dubai’s cuisine is both nutritious and delicious due to the extensive use of herbs.
We have compiled some authentic local foods that are probably less well-known to most travelers but just as delicious as world-famous delicacies like hummus and falafel. If you’ve never had authentic Arabic food before, this list of the greatest restaurants in Dubai is a wonderful place to start.
The cuisine in the UAE is out of this world. The greatest restaurants in the UAE serve up dishes from throughout the world, making it easy to lose sight of the country’s rich cultural history. The traditional Emirati cuisine and the cuisines of other cultures that have influenced Emirati cooking are both simple and delicious.
One essential thing to do in the UAE is to indulge in the regional cuisine that reflects the country’s diverse geography, culture, and climate.
Local Emirati cuisine has been underrepresented in Dubai‘s restaurant scene for a long time. But things are changing, with a slew of new and innovative Emirati eateries sprouting up all over the city.
11 best foods and drinks in the UAE
To help you make the most of your trip to this culinary haven in the Middle East, we’ve researched and compiled a list of some of the greatest local meals and drinks in the UAE, from delectable breads and pastries to Arabic coffee and camel burgers.
- Gahwa (Arabic Coffee)
- Al Machboos
- Shish Tawouk Sandwich
- Shirin Polo
One of Dubai’s most well-known cuisines is harees. Many Emirati homes serve it, and it’s also offered in some of Dubai’s best restaurants. Because of the effort and expertise required to make it, it is typically served at formal events like wedding receptions and formal banquets.
Harees is made with crushed wheat, minced beef (often chicken), onions, ground cumin, plenty of water, and salt. One of the best traditional foods in the United Arab Emirates is harees. It’s a staple of regional cuisine, and the recipes have been passed down for centuries.
Some recipes call for many hours of boiling time for the wheat before the meat is added. For others, the total cooking time is the same whether they add everything at once or not.
The traditional dish of Luqaymat is a staple of Dubai’s cuisine and is served at many cultural events in Dubai and the rest of the Emirates, as it is one of UAE’s best foods and desserts. They’re a standard ‘must-have’ pastry for parties and celebrations at home and in the dining establishment.
These tender golden balls of homemade sweetness melt in your mouth. Ingredients include flour, turmeric, sesame seeds, milk, sugar, salt, yeast, and a pinch of salt. After the batter has rested from being kneaded, it is cooked in oil and served with sugar.
A variation of luqaymat, called loukoumades in Greece, is said to have origins in the Middle East, where it is known as halwa al-luqaymat or ‘awama. Finishing luqaymat with a honey-like syrup (sharbat) has Turkish roots.
3. Gahwa (Arabic Coffee)
With a slew of high-end roasters spread throughout its main cities, the United Arab Emirates offers a whole new level of sophistication for coffee connoisseurs. You can’t help but stumble onto an Arabic coffee shop when traveling through the nation.
Arabic coffee is commonly referred to as gahwa or qahwa in the region, and it is one of the UAE’s top foods and drinks. The dallah, a traditional coffee pot with its own distinct form and decoration, is used to serve it. Green coffee beans are used to make this, and cardamon is added for extra taste.
Gahwa, a traditional Emirati beverage, is often served with dates. It’s a gesture of welcome and goodwill to provide the drink. Its service is a cultural practice so important that UNESCO has declared it in need of protection.
A trip to the United Arab Emirates wouldn’t be complete without trying the country’s famous coffee, which is a staple of local culture.
Shawarma, a Middle Eastern sandwich, is a popular street meal that has been featured on several television shows and movies. Shawarma may be found in most modern countries. However, street vendors in the United Arab Emirates provide the best taste.
Once again, this is a non-vegetarian option that has a flatbread folded up with a sour filling. Chicken breasts have been cut and mixed with a variety of sauces, along with other veggies, onions, and spices. You have the option of selecting the cut of meat you like. Either lamb or beef will do. One of the top local dishes in the UAE is shawarma.
It’s well worth your time to sample what is often regarded as one of the UAE’s best foods and national delicacies. Even though it’s usually saved for special occasions, you can order it at practically any high-end UAE restaurant.
The meat used in khuzi (also written ghuzi, qoozi, and quzi) is often mutton or lamb. Typically, it is slow-roasted with a variety of spices for several hours. Specifically, in Emirati culture, it is wrapped in date palms and cooked for many hours in water.
Cinnamon, saffron, nutmeg, and cardamom-spiced rice complete the dish. Vegetables, together with the dish’s toppings of raisins and pine nuts, provide for a hearty and comprehensive dinner.
6. Al Machboos
Machboos is an essential part of any Dubai restaurant guide as it is one of the UAE’s top foods. Known by its Arabic name, kabsa, this rice meal is a staple in the diets of people across the Arabian Peninsula.
Meat and yellow basmati rice are the main ingredients of a traditional Machboos meal. Meat and rice are prepared in the same vessel, in contrast to Ghuzi.
Spices like garlic, cumin, cloves, bzar (an Emirati spice combination), and chili powder are used to marinade the meat, often lamb. Finally, it is fried in oil before being simmered with onions, garlic, turmeric powder, coriander powder, dried lime, and diced tomatoes in water or stock.
When the meat is nearly done, the basmati rice is added and cooked together at a low temperature, covered, until all the liquid has been absorbed. Add coriander leaves and green chilies to the rice just before serving.
7. Shish Tawouk Sandwich
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) shares a close gastronomic history with other Middle Eastern countries, especially Lebanon. Lebanese immigrants brought with them several dishes, including shish tawook and shawarma, which have become staples of street food in the UAE.
Shish tawook (occasionally written as shish taouk) and shawarma are two different types of meat that are sometimes mistaken for one another despite their obvious differences. The majority of chicken in shish tawook comes from a chicken. The chicken is marinated in a tomato and yogurt mixture that’s loaded with herbs and spices. After that, it gets skewered and roasted over some flames.
These meats are then sliced thinly and served on pita bread with a variety of toppings to create the world-famous street food sandwich. Pickles, onions, tomatoes, and yogurt sauces are the usual condiments of choice.
Meaty thareed (or fareed) is a staple in the Emirati kitchen and is representative of Gulf cuisine in general and Dubai in particular. Bread and vegetable bits are cooked in a beef broth to create this dish. The meal, which is high in both vitamins and protein, is reserved for rare occasions.
Meat is simmered in a broth that also includes whole-wheat bread and veggies to make thareed. It’s a high-energy snack that’s also supposed to be good for you, thanks in large part to the vegetarian protein it contains.
If you prefer liquids to solids when eating, Thareed may be for you. Thareed is a delicious stew that can be adapted to suit the needs of both vegetarians and meat eaters. Roasted vegetables, including potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkin, and marrow, are the perfect ingredients. Chicken, lamb, or goat meat, among others, can be included, according to individual taste.
9. Shirin Polo
Shirin Polo is the greatest dish in the United Arab Emirates for those of you with a sweet tooth. In Dubai, this dish is reserved for celebrations such as weddings and the Nowruz (Iranian New Year).
You won’t just love this Iranian meal because of its special flavor but also because of how beautiful it looks. The meal is an eclectic blend of steamed rice, almonds, dried fruits, and vegetables with a little sugar coating.
Nuts are used as a garnish to improve its visual appeal. Barberries and pistachio ice cream are a great complement to the flavor. It’s the finest option for vegetarians in the United Arab Emirates, so don’t miss it if you visit there.
Don’t leave Dubai or Abu Dhabi without trying the local specialty, kunafa, as it surely is one of UAE’s top foods and desserts. Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and Lebanon are just a few of the numerous Arab and Balkan nations where this very delectable delicacy is a staple.
Kunafa is made with kataifi pastry that has been stacked with cheese and then steeped in sugar syrup. Depending on its origin and the cook, it may be flavored with rose water, lemon juice, cinnamon, pistachios, almonds, raisins, and other spices. It’s a sumptuous and tasty dessert that you can’t miss if you visit the United Arab Emirates.
Falafel is available throughout the nation for those who follow a vegetarian diet. The meal can be served in a patty or ball shape. Chickpeas and beans are ideal ingredients. However, it’s possible that various eateries will utilize different ingredients. For this reason, those with food sensitivities should confirm the ingredients.
Chickpeas are formed into balls or patties and then deep-fried in oil. The people who live in the UAE typically eat falafel in a wrap. Tahini sauce, veggies, pickles, and salad are folded up with the balls and patties to make a wrap. The meal is ideal for morning consumption. You should start your journey to the United Arab Emirates with this delicious meal, as it is one of the UAE’s top foods.