It is hard to beat the range of cuisines you will find on offer in Dubai. With so many cultures and nationalities converging in one city, it’s easy to taste the authentic flavours of famous dishes from around the world, whether it be in five-star restaurants, unlicensed cafes or streetside shawarma vendors.
Emirati cuisine has its own distinctive qualities – as the UAE has a long history as a trading crossroads, influences from around the world have seeped into Emirati cooking. Spices such as cinnamon, saffron and turmeric, along with nuts, limes and dried fruit add interesting flavours. Popular Emirati dishes include Al Harees (meat and wheat slow-cooked in a clay pot and served with ghee), Al Majboos (made by boiling meat in spiced water with dried limes), and Al Madrooba (salted fish in a thick, spicy sauce). Rice is a predominant feature of Emirati cooking, and is usually served with saffron, dried fruit, nuts or local spices. A good way to round off an Emirati meal is with a big serving of the delicious local dessert ‘Umm Ali’ – a pudding made of bread, cream, dried fruit and pistachios.
The serving of traditional Arabic coffee (kahwa) is an important social ritual. Local coffee is mildly flavoured with cardamom and saffron, and served black, without sugar but accompanied by dates to sweeten the palate between sips.
Fresh juices are also a strong feature of local cuisine, and these can be bought from most streetside shawarma stands and Arabic restaurants. Try the famous fruit cocktail, a thick blend of fresh mango, banana, pomegranate and pineapple.