To get to know a country, it’s important to know its food. With influences from all over the world contributing to Dubai’s rich food scene, there isn't a single cuisine on the planet that can't be found in the city.
Cherish your Ramadan by trying authentic flavour such as machboos, a flavoursome dish of meat cooked with spice blends and rice. Prefer bread? Try the exotic khameer and chebab, and end your meal with the Middle Eastern version of sweet dumplings, luqaimat.
If you’re still unfamiliar with the cuisine, here, we present a list of Emirati delicacies that you should try during your visit to Dubai, along with the best place to enjoy them. Get ready to be spoilt!
Everyone's favourite dip is also one of the most simple to make, with chickpea, tahini (sesame paste), olive oil, garlic and lemon purée. It’s a staple of almost every Middle Eastern spread.
With a similar texture to hommus, this aubergine-based dip is a spicier version of its more well-known sibling, baba ghanoush. A perfect complement to grilled meats and flatbread.
A vegetable-friendly option, fattoush is a slightly heartier salad, usually featuring pieces of toasted or fried bread combined with whatever vegetables and herbs the kitchen has on hand, notably tomatoes, cucumbers and radishes – plus some pomegranate seeds for an added burst of flavour and colour.
Another classic that can be found on the menu of pretty much any Middle Eastern restaurant, falafel is a fried ball made from ground chickpeas or fava beans and spices and is the perfect street food.
With tender strips of chicken or meat flavoured with a heady mix of spices, cooked on a rotating spit and then crammed into flatbreads full of crunchy lettuce, hot sauce and yoghurt, it's easy to see why shawarma is one of Dubai's most popular – and cheap - dishes.
A dish believed to have originated in Yemen, kabsa is now popular throughout the Gulf and is often served on special occasions to feed large numbers. In the most basic terms, it is rice with meat, but the characteristic flavour of kabsa comes from combinations of cardamom, saffron, cinnamon, black lime, bay leaves and nutmeg. The stunning blend of spices in this dish, as well as the very special underground cooking method, makes it a must-try.
Hungry enough? Below we provide you with some recommendations on where to find these delicacies.
Option #1: Aseelah at Deira Creek
This fine-dining venue set in the heart of Old Dubai offers a contemporary twist on traditional flavours in both its subtle aesthetic – think sand-inspired colours and a jute-draped Ghaf tree centre piece – and its menu.
As well as classics such as samak (fish in gravy with spiced rice), the selection of dishes imaginatively combines indigenous ingredients with European cooking and presentation techniques. The space also boasts a separate lounge area.
Must Try: Poached Arabian lobster with herbed pilaf, pureed peas and fennel salad
Paying homage to the seven emirates in both its name and the Arabesque décor, this elegant restaurant enjoys a prime waterfront location in Jumeirah Beach Residence. Traditional dishes are brought bang up to date with a lighter touch and a dash of creative flair, although serving sizes stay true to their roots... They’re generous! After a hearty spread, head upstairs to the spacious terrace for a cup of tea while taking in the beach views.
Must Try: Aishu laham: rice and slow-cooked lamb, flavoured with dried lime and saffron
Option #3: Siraj at Souk Al Bahar
Imposing arches, Arabic calligraphy and horse sculptures all come together to evoke an Arabian Nights- style ambience at this Downtown venue. The food is a modern reimagining of Emirati-Levantine flavours, from the warm date and kale salad; lobster kibbeh (stuffed savoury dough balls); chicken biryani, served in a flatbread parcel; or mouhalabiya (Lebanese milk pudding) served with 24 - karat gold honey.
Must Try: Grilled saffron prawns
To plan your unforgettable foodies journey in Dubai, log in to visitdubai.com
With the ultimate vision of positioning Dubai as the world’s leading tourism destination and commercial hub, Dubai Tourism’s mission is to increase the awareness of Dubai among global audiences and to attract tourists and inward investment into the emirate. Dubai Tourism is the principal authority for the planning, supervision, development and marketing of Dubai’s tourism sector. It markets and promotes the Emirate’s commerce sector, and is responsible for the licensing and classification of all tourism services, including hotels, tour operators and travel agents. Brands and departments within the Dubai Tourism portfolio include Dubai Convention and Events Bureau, Dubai Calendar, and Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (formerly known as Dubai Events and Promotions Establishment).