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Traditional Emirati Dishes To Try in Dubai

Beware …  foodgasm ahead …

Dubai is famous for a plethora of things – housing the tallest building in the world (Burj Khalifa), cheap petrol, luxurious police vehicles and a lot more. It is also home to some exotic and mouth watering dishes which is enough of a reason to travel to and explore this part of the gulf. So grab something to eat ( you don’t want to be hungry while reading this), as we are about to dive into some traditional emirati dishes to die for.


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Mandi is a traditional emirati dish originally from yemen and making its way into Dubai’s traditional food scene. It mainly consists of long grain rice and meat (can be either chicken or lamb) slowly cooked in an underground oven. The word ‘Mandi’ comes from the arabic word ‘nada’ meaning dew. Literally, the meat juices (referring to the dew) is absorbed in each grain of the fragrant rice making it sweat with loads of flavor. Now that’s the kind of sweat I would prefer in Dubai.


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Balaleet is a breakfast dish which typically includes vermicelli sweetened with sugar, cardamom, rose water and saffron. To balance the sweetness, it is topped with an egg omelette which provides the savory flavor. It has quite an unique flavor profile which grows on you as you have it more often. It is traditionally had during the Eid Holidays. After fasting for the whole day, people gather for breaking of the fast (known as iftar).

Al Machboos

A golden plate of chicken Machboos © vm2002 / Shutterstock

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Machboos is the cousin of the Biryani and is the national dish of Bahrain, a small island country in the Persian Gulf neighbored by Saudi Arabia and Iran. It is made with rice, meat and other rich spices. Cooking it in a big pot with tomatoes, onions and dry fruits like resins and cashews gives it a unique texture. It is one of the must try dishes in Dubai.


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Luqaimat is a dish often had as a dessert. It is also served during the Ramadan almost every single day. It is also known as emirati deep fried dumplings. Crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside, it is flavored with saffron, sugar and cardamom which makes it irresistible. It is topped with a sticky syrup base consisting of dates with sesame seeds.


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Originally a Palestinian delicacy, the knafeh is a dessert item which is a favorite with the locals of UAE. It is high in demand during Ramadan, for Iftar to break the fast. It is similar to a cheesecake, stuffed with sour cheese and covered with semolina dough and sugar syrup.

These are some of the must – try traditional emirati dishes in Dubai. There are a lot of others too, but these dishes truly represent the cosmopolitan flavors of Dubai and will satiate all your food dreams.


Nalin Das
Stan | Foodie | Engineer

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