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What comes in your mind when you hear the word Dubai? Well, most probably your mind will create a picture of the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest manmade structure, or a Sheikh wearing a Thawab riding his golden Ferrari or the oilfields, desert and the riches the country has. But do you know that Dubai is the home of some of the best cuisines in the world and visiting and enjoying them once in a lifetime can make its spot in anybody's wish list

What makes Dubais cuisine so unique and special?

  • Dubai is the crown jewel of the United Arab Emirates and also considered as its culinary capital. Dubai's cuisine is multicultural and is the blend of some of the world's famous cuisines like Emirati, Levantine, Middle Eastern, and Asian.
  • Situated in the eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula with the hot desert climate and lack of fertile soil meat, fresh seafood, dairy products, and rice forms the staple of Dubai's cuisine. Fragrant and colorful spices like cardamom, cinnamon, saffron, and turmeric are the basic flavors of Dubai's cuisine.
  • Although having scarcity of fertile soil, vegetables, and citrus fruits like tomatoes, lemon, and cumbers are widely grown and used for salads and toppings in local delicacies like Shawarma, Ghozi, and Stuffed Camel with some drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and freshly cracked peppers as a seasoning.
  • The hot climate of Dubai helps in the cultivation of fruits like dates and mangoes that are enjoyed raw or used in making toothsome desserts like Maamoul, Umm Ali, and mango pudding. Camel is one of the basic sources of food for the Bedouins people living here and its milk and meat is used for making varieties of desserts and dishes.
  • Since being a Muslim city, pork is prohibited from Dubai's local cuisine, and instead lamb, chicken, goat, and beef are essentials when it comes to meat. Camel's meat is also common in some local dishes but is only prepared on special occasions and ceremonies.
  • Situated on the coast of the Persian Gulf, Dubai is gifted with an abundant supply of fresh seafood and includes some of the world's best seafood restaurants that attract visitors from all around the globe. Grilled mackerel and red snapper, butter and garlic fried lobster and prawns, the poached lobster tail with lemon, and spices are some of the best servings of these restaurants.
  • Beverages also play an important role in Dubai's cuisine and are enjoyed along with the meal. Camel's milk, tea, and coffee boiled with saffron, cinnamon, and cardamom for distinct flavors are common drinks accompanying the meal.

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Let's dive into the world of Dubai's cuisine

Shawarma

  • Shawarma is one of the best, most popular, and mouth-watering dishes of Dubai that even our Marvel superheroes can't resist to enjoy. Watching Shawarma getting prepared and carved is itself a delight for the eyes.
  • Shawarma is slowly roasted marinated thin slices of mutton, beef, or chicken stacked over one another and cooked on a gently rotating vertical spit surrounded by charcoal fire and mounted by a thick layer of fat to keep the meat moist and juicy.
  • The marination used for Shawarma consists of spices like cumin, coriander, black pepper, and saffron water. After getting roasted to mouth melting consistency the pile of meat is carved with the help of a sword into fine slices and rolled in some local bread with a salad made from tomatoes, onion, pickled cucumber, fresh coriander leaves and some beaten yogurt for balancing the heat.

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Camel Biryani

  • Are you an adventurous person who would love to go extreme when it comes to food? Then this particular dish is made for you.
  • For generations camel's skin, milk and meat have played an important role in the survival of the Bedouin people living in Dubai, but nowadays when things are better, camel's meat is eaten frequently.
  • Camel biryani is a traditional and tribal dish of Dubai prepared only on special occasions or while welcoming a special guest. The camels used for making biryani are brought from local deserts where they are raised and one single camel can easily serve 20 people.
  • First, the camel is stuffed with a mixture of spilled chickpeas, cashew nuts, and raisins and then marinated with tamarind, cumin, chilies, and turmeric. Then it is cooked slowly in a huge pot with high-quality basmati rice on charcoal.
  • Before serving the biryani, it is garnished with cashew nuts, raisins, pistachio, boiled eggs, and cooked liver along with a generous drizzle of rich and fatty local clarified butter made from camel's milk.

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Al Harees

  • Al Harees or harissa is another popular dish of Dubai that is prepared on special occasions especially in the holy month of Ramadan. It is a smooth gelatine-like dish made from meat, salt, wheat, and spices.
  • Making Harees is considered as a work of art as it takes hours, lots of patience, and dedication to prepare it. The ingredients used are simple and the flavor of the dish is very clean and lingering.
  • Overnight soaked wheat is mixed with ground meat in a pot along with salt and clarified butter or animal fat. The mixture is then cooked on a low flame for hours and beaten until the meat and wheat mix together forming a porridge-like consistency.
  • It is then seasoned with cinnamon, black pepper, and cardamom and served with a slice of lemon and local bread to scoop in.

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Falafel

  • After reading about the above dishes, you must be wondering that is there any dish in Dubai's local cuisine made for vegans or vegetarians? Well, the answer to your question is yes! As mentioned earlier that Dubai's cuisine is diverse, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
  • Falafel is deep-fried balls of mashed chickpeas or fava beans loaded with spices and fresh herbs. It is a dish that is getting very popular all around the world especially among vegans and vegetarians and is considered a good replacement for meat-based food.
  • After getting fried to a golden-brown color and crispy texture, the falafel balls are stuffed or wrapped in local bread like pita or taboon and topped with a salad consisting of fresh onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and pickled cucumber and dressed with roasted sesame seed paste called Tahini and beaten yogurt.

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Humus

  • What happens when you mix cooked mashed chickpeas with Tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, and season it with salt and pepper? The answer you get a $ 1 billion industry.
  • Hummus is another vegetarian delicacy of Dubai that is eaten all around the world. It is a kind of a dipping sauce or a spread that can be eaten with bread, chips, eggs, salad or even stews. It is healthier than any other dips available in the market like mayonnaise, tartar sauce, or mustard.
  • Hummus is sold all around the world in cans, its simplicity and nutrition factor makes it a superfood which gave birth to a $ 1 billion industry. Every year an average American eats more than 800 grams of Hummus and it covers 45% of total sales of dips in the world.

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Some FAQ's about Dubai's local cuisine

Q. Is pork completely banned in Dubai? Are there any dishes of pork included in Dubai's local cuisine?

Since the majority of the population in Dubai are of Muslims, there are no pork dishes available in the traditional local cuisine. However, pork dishes are served in some of the restaurants and prepared for special guests. Pork sausage and meat are even sold in local butcher houses but in a different section which is clearly labeled.

Q. Is there any alcohol-based drink or beverage included in Dubai's local cuisine?

Yes, there are alcohol-based drinks and beverages available in Dubai?s cuisine but are only available in night clubs, bars, and specialty restaurants. Consuming alcohol in public places is a punishable crime in Dubai.

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