It’s amazing how many people have visited Dubai or lived here for years but have never tried a single dish of local food. In fact, if you ask most ex-pats to name an Emirati dish; they’ll often pull the kind of face that they made as a kid when their Mum caught them doing something they shouldn’t. Though it’s not entirely the ex-pats fault. Most Emiratis will prepare traditional food in their homes or order food to be delivered from small places which go relatively under the radar. So actually, there weren’t that many restaurants serving Emirati food until the last few years and most are a fusion of different foods. So here are six traditional Emirati foods you must try and don’t forget to wash it down with a nice cup of Karak chai after!
This is an Emirati staple and can be eaten any time of the day, the traditional way is with cheese and a fish sauce. If you’re not a fan of the sauce you can get cheese and honey or cheese and egg. You can also get other toppings.
So what is it? Regag is a very thin type of bread, very similar to a crepe. It’s best eaten fresh so make sure to drive your car to the cafe and eat it while you’re still sat in your car. It’s also a very affordable meal, costing around 5 aed for the bread with the filling. Where to get the best Regag in Dubai? Al Labeeb Grocery in Jumeirah.
So this one is popular in the whole of the Middle East and is particularly popular during Ramadan due it’s fried goodness and the sweet sauces which you drizzle over. It’s actually commonly a breakfast food. As you’ll discover Emirati’s tend to have a very sweet tooth and especially for breakfast. The Tent Jumeirah in Umm Suqeim: This one is an amazing location and great for a start to your day in a relaxing way. However, the breakfast items such as Luqaimat are only served until 12.
Again another breakfast food. Made up of sweet vermicelli noodles topped with an omelette. It’s really interesting the first time you try it since you’re not expecting this mix of savoury and sweet but it’s definitely one that will slowly grow on you. Before you know it, you’ll be having this as an Emirati food craving. Sikka Cafe, La Mer, City Walk & Al Khawaneej: This Instagram worthy cafe does a mix of cuisines but you’ll also find Emirati cuisine on the menu including Balaleet.
Each gulf country has slightly different flavours for this dish so it’s a fun one to try all the different style. Of course, Emirati’s have their own different spices and flavours that make it an Emirati Machboos.
Traditionally it is chicken with lots of flavour served on rice but you do also get Machboos with other meats or fish. It tends to be served to share on a large plate. It’s one of the most popular dishes here. Al Fanar Restaurant, Festival City: Dubai classic and a must of anyone wanting to try Emirati cuisine. There are other places that do Machboos but they tend to be Saudi style so here is your best option for traditional Emirati.
For the more adventurous eaters, this is the Emirati dish for you! This dish is crumbled or minced shark on top of rice. Yes you read that right, crumbled shark! Yes, yes that thing with teeth that swims in the sea. Often the portions of this are big enough for two, so probably best to share with your other adventurous friend. Al Jawareh Restaurant, Jumeirah 1: Local decorations in a traditional setting that will make you feel like you travelled back in time.
This is a dividing food, some people love it and some people hate it. Mostly those who don’t like it is due to the texture. Since it has the quality of porridge with mutton mixed in. It isn’t the most attractive looking of meals but it is really tasty! So pick up a soon and give it a go. It’s a good wholesome meal made from barley. Seven Sands at Jumeriah Beach Residences (JBR): They also do a prawn Jasheed if you’re not wanting the shark or if you’re wanting some delivered to your home, try Al Shandagha in various locations.
So there you have it! Six Emirati foods you must try when you’re in Dubai. How many have you tried from the list and if so what did you think?
ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
These insights are from our feature blogger Danni B.