If you haven’t had the chance to try real Emirati cuisine, food festivals are a good place to start. They provide a great opportunity to try out the dishes unique to UAE and make it easy for non-locals to appreciate the varied gastronomic landscape of the region. UAE food festivals, in fact, showcase the variety of flavors on offer.
The annual Dubai Food Festival (DFF) and Abu Dhabi Food Festival (ADFF) are a time when emirate cuisine is served from some of the best street chefs; they get bigger and tastier than the year before. No better event to celebrate the warm Emirati hospitality and the authentic local cuisine and cultural experiences.
Both DFF and ADFF are a celebration of Emirati food that highlight the range of Emirati chef talents and non-Emirati chefs innovating new dishes with traditional ingredients; the events pay a tribute to the area’s geography, climate and culture, that give the cuisine its distinct flavors.
Lately, there is an increasing demand for the nation’s recipes with items on the menu that are ‘hearty and healthy.’
Emirati food is also served during the Taste of Dubai Festival, which usually takes place in March at Dubai Media City and Gourmet Abu Dhabi, a culinary extravaganza in February each year that give the cooks the exposure they deserve.
Emirati food venues include:
- Mezlai in the iconic Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi
- Mama Tani, Majilis, Café2go are Arabic cafés serving home style local food, like camel burgers as a healthy, low-fat highly nutritious alternative to beef; in addition, camel milk is being used to make cheese, ice-cream and delicious chocolate.
- Milas in Dubai Mall offers Emirati food with the uniqueness of traditional cuisine in UAE
- Al Fanr in Dubai Festival City is an Emirati-cuisine restaurant
- Seven Sands offers culinary experiences from across the seven emirates
What UAE local dishes are not to be missed include:
- Machboos (a flavorsome dish of meat cooked with spice blends and rice)
- Ayesh muhamar (rice cooked with date molasses and served with fish)
- Mathrooba (a dish mainly made of rice/wheat/oats cooked with meat and a selection of Emirati spices)
- Balaleet (a kind of sweet-savory pasta dish)
- Malih (salted dried fish)
- Nadhar mashwi (a grilled squid seasoned with spices)
- Ouzi (a whole roasted lamb or baby camel on spiced, fruited rice)
- Khameer, Chebab and Mhala Zayed (traditional breads)
- Lgaimat (sweet fried dumplings)
- Harees (a porridge of wheat and mutton prepared for occasions and feasts)
- Gahwa (lightly roasted coffee)
- Haleeb (heated milk)
- Karak (tea)