Dubai is on the fast track towards gaining the recognition of being a foodie’s paradise. With thousands of restaurants and numerous cuisines to choose from, your craving for something savory or sweet (and everything in between) will be easily satisfied.
You don’t even have to wait in line at a popular restaurant or café to eat your fill; there are many restaurants that will deliver excellent meals and food products right to your doorstep.
But which dishes and fares should you put on your list of must-try foods in Dubai if you’re here on a gastronomic journey? Here is a list, from a leading food service company in the UAE, of the top 10 you should sample:
Ghuzi, or khuzi, is the UAE’s national dish. It is made of roasted lamb or mutton served on top of a bed of rice with spices. A variety of vegetables and nuts are also added to the dish. In restaurants, the roasted meat is served on kebab skewers, with the other garnishes on top of the rice.
Ghuzi is a complete meal in itself. It is a good dish to start with if you’re a foodie on a quest to know more about the hearty, traditional side of Dubai’s food scene.
2. Al Harees
Another must-try traditional Emirati dish, al harees is a slow-cooked one-pot dish that consists of boiled wheat with salt. Once the wheat gains a smooth, porridge-like texture, tender, tasty chunks of lamb, mutton, chicken, or veal are added and the dish is baked for another several hours. A variety of spices are also added to boost the flavor of the dish.
Al harees is another delightful, tasty, and filling offering that will help you learn more about traditional Emirati cuisine and culture.
Shawarma is another Arabic dish that many restaurants and eateries in Dubai have perfected. If you’re hankering for this meaty wrap, you can select chicken, beef, or lamb for the main protein. Slices of pickles and tomatoes and a drizzle of garlic sauce are added for texture and flavor.
There are now some restaurants in Dubai that serve shawarma with a special fruit shake — a great deal if you’re a foodie on a budget.
4. Mutton Achari Handi
Aside from Emirati and Arabic dishes, you won’t be disappointed by the different cuisines you can enjoy in Dubai – something that you certainly look forward to as a foodie. Start by trying a popular Pakistani dish: mutton achari handi.
This dish consists of mutton cooked with fresh green chilis and a variety of spices. What you’ll get is a bowl or plate of tender mutton with a tangy, pickled aftertaste. This is one of the most popular dishes to try in Dubai today.
5. Bihari kebabs
Indian is the most popular cuisine in Dubai today. Bihari kebab is one of the dishes that has helped propelled this cuisine’s popularity.
These kebabs have their roots in the Indian state of Bihar. The skewered pieces of meat are infused with exotic spices, yoghurt and tenderized papaya. They melt in your mouth and make you want to order more.
If you haven’t tried any Egyptian foods before, you’re in luck; you will find one of the most popular Egyptian dishes in the world in Dubai, and it’s called koshari.
Koshari is a dish made of baked noodles or rice and drizzled with traditional Egyptian condiments, lentils, chickpeas, fried onions, and vinegar. This Egyptian comfort food is often served with feteer, a traditional Egyptian pie made from flour and sugar and topped with a variety of garnishes.
If you’re craving for a slice of pizza with a twist, you definitely have to try manousheh. Commonly served as a breakfast dish, this Lebanese savory pastry is made from stretched dough and stuffed with flavorful toppings such as zaatar herbs, olive oil and Akkawi cheese. It is a dish you must simply enjoy for breakfast.
8. Cheong Fun
Cheong fun is a type Chinese dimsum. Shrimp, duck, Chinese barbecued pork, and other types of meat are tightly wrapped inside rice flour wrappers and made into rolls. They are then steamed or deep-fried. These tasty bites are quite addictive and are a must-try for any foodie.
Once you’re ready for dessert, start with some luqaimats. These deep-fried dumplings are drizzled with date molasses, making them salty and sweet at the same time. Luqaimats are considered by many as the “official sweet of the Emirates.”
As a foodie, you may already know your way around baklavas. But you’re certainly in for a treat if you try these sweet pastries in Dubai.
This special dessert, which is made of layers of filo dough, filled with chopped and sweetened nuts, and drizzled with sugar syrup or honey, is a favorite in Dubai. Just make sure you choose a bakery known for their best-tasting baklavas.
Dubai has so many delectable things to offer to serious foodies. If you haven’t been to this city yet, then it’s high time you do — a culinary journey to Dubai is one of the best experiences you will have in your lifetime.
Managing Director, Bidfood Middle East
Hisham’s corporate career started in the UAE in late 1988; he worked for firms such as R.J. Reynolds, Danone Group, and Richemont Group across several countries in the GCC. He climbed up the ladder in roles and responsibilities to manage regions and businesses in the Middle East. In 2003, after 15 years of business experience, he took a leap of faith towards starting up something on his own. At almost 10 years in, the business has grown to cover 3 major markets with a turnover exceeding US$60 million. Hisham’s vision is to continue his regional expansion to the rest of the Middle East markets.