The United Arab Emirates is not like any other place on Earth, it’s a whole new experience and Dubai is its crown jewel. For thousands of years, Dubai was the land of pearls, and divers would risk their lives by diving as deep as 40 meters in search of the tiny, lucrative orbs. The magic and danger of pearl diving gave way to oil and industry. These days, Dubai is a hotbed of tourism, business, and energy, but its rich and eccentric heritage still shines through. Dubai’s cuisine still feels, looks, smells, and tastes like the exotic place that it was in olden days. Whether you travel to Dubai for business or pleasure, you’ll need to recharge yourself with some food. A city of diverse flavors, ingredients, and spices, eating in Dubai is its own reason to visit. Here is a look at seven best and exotic dishes that you absolutely have to experience the next time you touch down in the heart of the UAE.
Stuffed Camel in Dubai
Stuffed camel is considered one of the most luxurious and celebratory foods in Dubai. It’s named by the Guinness World Book of Records as one of the largest foods you can eat in the entire world. Another reason to try this delicacy. Cooked on a spit over an open flame, stuffed camel can be filled with chicken, eggs, fish, sheep, and spices. Because it is so over-the-top, stuffed camel is served only when there is a special occasion, festival, Bedouin ceremony or other important cultural or family event, so if you can’t miss this dish, plan your trip accordingly.
Shawarma in Dubai
This popular dish has traveled far beyond the UAE. Made from slow-roasted and spiced meat — usually chicken or lamb — a shawarma is a kind of Middle Eastern sandwich. Served in an Arabic roti, it can be served with vegetables, fries, tomatoes, pickles, garlic sauce — the sides seem almost endless. It can be found all over the world but eating shawarma in Dubai is an experience that should not be missed.
Al Harees in Dubai
This dish is a labor of love that literally takes hours to make, but its ingredients are remarkably simple. A pinch of salt is added to a pot of wheat and meat, and these are cooked until the texture is smooth and uniform — so much so that you can barely tell the meat from the grain. Then, the whole mixture is baked slowly for several more hours. In the land of decadent spices, al harees is a simple dish that brings a surprising and welcome change for your palette.
Mehalabiya in Dubai
A refreshing pudding, Mehalabiya’s most standout flavors come from rosewater and pistachios. It tastes like an oasis in a desert — healthy, life-giving and peaceful. Perfect for the diner who wants a refreshing after-dinner treat that isn’t too sweet; mehalabiya is especially popular with children.
Ghuzi in Dubai
Also called khuzi or ouzi, this dish is made from whole-roasted lamb or mutton and is often served on kebab skewers with vegetables and hazelnuts over rice. It is easily one of the most popular dishes in Dubai, because it is considered a whole meal in itself. It’s also the national dish of the United Arab Emirates, which means any trip to the area without ghuzi is an incomplete one.
Matchbous in Dubai
Yet another lamb recipe, matchbous is made from a lamb spiced with what is known as loomi. Loomi is made from dried, ripe limes and salt water. The lamb is then cooked into a stew with tomatoes and rice. A traditional dish of Dubai, matchbous has a flavor that is unique, sharp, spicy and rich. Cloves, cardamom, cassia bark, turmeric, and baharat are also used to flavor this dish, which gives it an impressive and satisfying depth of flavors.
Esh Hasarya in Dubai
A dessert in a class by itself, esh hasarya is called “the bread of the harem”. Its texture resembles cheesecake, and it has a cream frosting. Rich and sweet, this cake almost melts in your mouth. It’s no wonder it’s one of the most popular desserts in all of Dubai.
I know what is the next thought that crosses your mind... where can you find all of these dishes? There are plenty of local restaurants all over the city serving most if not all of them. You can easily search for the best restraint offering the particular dish you want to try. So the next time you travel to Dubai, take in its flavors along with its sights and business opportunities. From camel to rosewater, very few worlds taste as unique and exotic as Dubai’s.
Ecplore Dubai with Coast To Coast Tourism