The UAE is a land of striking contrasts. It is both deeply traditional, and also incredibly modern. On one hand, it sits in the midst of the dessert, but it does also have a spectacular coastline. The one other thing that makes this destination stand out is the cuisine. Laden with Middle Eastern traditions that date back centuries, the local food here is simply cooked, but packed with character and flavor. Here are 5 foods you really must try when living in the UAE.
This hugely popular dish of the UAE is such a simple dish, but with an exotic taste.It requires very few ingredients and has a slightly longer cooking time. It is especially made and served during the holy month of Ramadan, Eid festivals and also during weddings. While making Harees, meat and wheat are cooked together in boiling water with some salt for seasoning. This can go on for hours until the consistency is of a smooth mixture, which is then further cooked in a covered clay pot. Other spices may be added, but it is usually garnished with some cinnamon, sugar and clarified butter. This dish is also the origin of Haleem, another popular dish of this region that is made with barley, wheat, meat, lentils and spices.
This is a dish with an interesting taste. It is actually a vermicelli and egg omelet that has a sweet and salty flavor. It can be served as a breakfast dish, but is also traditionally prepared on Eid holidays and served with boiled beans and black-eye peas. The various Gulf countries usually have their own slight variations on the dish. It is made by boiling the vermicelli in sweetened and salted water. More sugar is added once it is soft and drained. The savory flavor is introduced by scrambling eggs and then adding fried, caramelized onions and a pinch of cardamom and saffron. Balaleet tastes great when served either hot or cold, and it also makes a great side dish when the amount of sugar is reduced.
Kabsa or Machboos
Kabsa refers to mixed rice dishes that are made with rice, meat, vegetables and spices. There are different varieties of kabsa, but they mainly use aromatic long-grained basmati rice and the main spices that give it that unique flavor are black pepper, cinnamon, bay leaf, cloves and black lime. The hint of sweetness comes from cinnamon and nutmeg. Some dishes make use of chicken, beef or lamb, while some variations use camel meat or even fish. Along with spices, delightfully flavorsome additions like almonds, fried onions and raisins may also be used. The meat for kabsa can be prepared by cooking it in a deep hole dug into the ground. This is the traditional cooking method. It can also be grilled on stones that are places atop burning embers.
A delicious meat stew that serves as a hearty lunchtime meal, saloona can be made with lamb, beef, chicken or fish. It is even sometimes served with vegetables like okra, eggplant and bell peppers, and may be served with rice or flat bread. Saloona is a common dish through the United Arab Emirates, and some households even prepare it twice a day for meals. It is especially significant during Ramadan and is often sent to the mosques at the time of fasting, since apart from being delicious, it is also nutritious and fulfilling. Traditionally a Bedouin dish, it may be served with accompaniments such as sliced limes, dates and buttermilk.
This is a famous sweet dish made during Ramadan. These fluffy, sweet fried dumplings coated with honey, date syrup or sugar syrup are a treat for those with a serious sweet tooth! Even though they are deep fried, they are incredibly light and always retain their delicate flavor. In the UAE, it’s always a good time to eat some Luqaimat, and they’re often eaten at any time of the day. Some recipes call for the addition of yogurt, and this gives it a slight tang. These sweet indulgences are crispy on the outside and airy inside. They can also be dusted with icing sugar or rolled in sesame seeds for an added crunch.