From a camel burger to an Indian samboosa, Musement takes a look at 13 foods to eat in Dubai.
The Dubai Food Festival kicks off on February 26, launching 18 days of gastronomic delights in honor of Emirati cuisine and the city’s best eats. Yet, any day of the year is a thrilling one for a meal in Dubai. Here are 13 foods to save room for when you’re in town (perhaps for a stopover?) — or in Abu Dhabi or anywhere in the UAE for that matter.
Considered the national dish of the UAE, Khuzi is comprised of roasted lamb or goat served atop a bed of exuberantly spiced rice, often studded with assorted nuts and finished with some vegetables.
Dubai is home to a large Indian population — in fact, Indians are the UAE’s largest group of ex-pats — so it’s not surprising that the lively Little India quarter serves some of the most enticing eats in town. While we recommend everything, don’t miss the samboosa (also known as samosa), triangle-shaped pastries stuffed with savory fillings like minced meat, potatoes and vegetables. Try one as part of an an evening food tour.
This staple of Emirati cuisine is zesty chicken and vegetable stew often complete with a particular Levantine bread that often remains unbaked before being added to the rich, hearty stew toward the end of the cooking process.
Though often associated with Lebanon, this “Arab pizza” can be found throughout the Middle East, crowned with an array of toppings, from halloumi cheese to spices like za’atar to shredded meat and more — a popular breakfast food enjoyed throughout the day.
5. Camel Burger
Yes, a burger made from camel meat. In 2010, Local House began offering camel as a healthier burger alternative, and it became a phenomenon. Incredibly tasty, the came burger is also much lower in fat and cholesterol than those made from beef. Nowadays, you can find them all around town as well as in the other emirates.
The heavily carnivorous component of Emirati cuisine can make it easy to forget the country’s location on the Persian Gulf, which is indicative of an abundance of seafood. Ibn AlBahr at the Palm Jumeirah is one of the best places to enjoy some…head inside and choose your fish from the day’s catch displayed on the ice bed.
This refreshing Levantine chopped salad marries a variety of flavors and textures, usually comprised of mixed greens, tomatoes, radishes, cucumbers and other vegetables, all complemented by small pieces of fried khubz, a Middle Eastern flatbread.
This sweet fruit from the date palm tree is ubiquitous in the UAE, served in myriad varieties, filled with delights ranging from orange peel to roasted almond. The best place to sample one? Bateel, hands down — the world’s only gourmet date producer since 1936.
Not to be confused in any way, shape or form with a kebab, the chebab is a fluffy cardamon and saffron pancake accompanied by creamy, white cheese and sweet syrup or honey…a beloved breakfast treat.
A dessert found throughout the Middle East, Kanafeh consists of delightfully gooey, stringy cheese coated in thinly shredded phyllo pastry and topped with a sweet syrup.
11. Esh Hasarya
Nicknamed “the bread of the harem,” Esh Hasarya, a creamy, melt-in-your-mouth sweet with cheesecake-like texture, is considered an emblem of Dubai’s food scene and can be found on most dessert menus. Comprised of rose and orange blossom water, sugar syrup and caramel, you should definitely leave enough room for a slice.
These crispy thin pastries are filled with ashta, a cream flavored with rose and orange blossom waters, glazed with sweet syrup and topped with ground pistachios. Available year-round, Kellaj are associated with Ramadan as they can be found at pretty much every iftar held during the Islamic month of fasting.
Honey-soaked fried dough balls are often covered in sesame seeds, luqaimat are another iftar staple.