While Dubai has a lot of interesting cuisines on offer, from Peruvian and Pakistani to Iranian and Ethiopian, it has usually been just a little trickier to look for genuine Emirati fare in the city. Traditionally, these dishes have simply been served in houses and at major celebrations, but that is finally beginning to shift as a good choice of Emirati restaurants crop in place across town.
So what exactly is Emirati cuisine? Expect hearty meat dishes born in the combat and sea food from the Arabian Peninsula, typically served with rice and flatbread. Bezar, a fusion of roasted as well as ground spices such as cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, and coriander, is included to virtually everything, while centuries old trading partners like India and Iran have also left the mark of theirs on the cuisine. A lot of the more recent restaurants are not simply sticking to a conventional selection though: camel sliders and chicken tikka stuffed breads are only a few the sudden Emirati fusion treats on offer. Here is where to have the fill of yours in Dubai.
Contemporary cooking at Aseelah With dishes like date stuffed chicken roulade and juicy camel sliders, Aseelah at Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek offers up the city’s most adventurous and accomplished take on regional cuisine. Old-school favourites aren’t forgotten; German born chef Uwe Micheel has spent years visiting Emirati families to master recipes as prawns marinated in aseeda and bezar bobar (pumpkin pudding). This trendy area will be the sole Emirati restaurant which offers booze, with innovative cocktails along with a well priced wine list
Authentic flavours at Al Fanar Al Fanar is actually a kitsch, fun area, with food and decor harking back again to the pre oil days. Do not let the Festival City Mall location place you off; specially designed like an old courtyard house, the restaurant is very atmospheric (just ignore the dodgy waxworks). First-timers are actually urged to try out chicken machboos (a bezar spiced rice dish) and tender naghar mashwi (grilled squid). There is a 2nd branch at Town Centre Jumeriah.
Home-style cooking at Al Tawasol Locals have been turning to the family run Al Tawasol in Deira for food-like-grandma-used-to-make after 1999. Have a seat on a corner of carpet in the main dining area or perhaps in only one of the private tented majlis (reception rooms) and next scoop up succulent lamb machboos and spicy saloona (curry) with the hands of yours. Al Tawasol also does a mean mandi, a Yemeni dish that is been used across the Arabian Peninsula: meat slow cooked in a tandoor and served over aromatic rice.
Camel milk treats at Majlis With intricate mashrabiya (wooden lattice screens) along with a blue tiled fountain, Majlis at Dubai Mall specialises in coffee, cakes, shakes and ice cream made from camel milk. A staple of the Bedouin diet until the mid 20th century, it is cheaper in fat, as well as greater in minerals and vitamins, than the cow equivalent. Try a camelccino produced with the cafe’s personal mixture of Ethiopian beans, paired with a pistachio glazed eclair made with – you guessed it – camel milk.
Trendy-meets-traditional at 7 Sands Spread more than 2 floors at The Beach at JBR, 7 Sands features sleek Middle Eastern interiors along with a breezy terrace overlooking the ocean. Blending quite traditional with fashionable, the menu is actually filled with Emirati classics, though you will also see dishes from the broader region like velvety hummus and crumbly kibbeh (meat filled cracked wheat croquettes). Dishes to try? Sambousas – much like Indian samosas but provided a bezar spice twist – and prawn fouga flavoured with bezar, saffron and dry limes.
Creative khameer at Logma Located in fashionable BoxPark, Logma is actually a hip eatery with modern interiors – think funky camel motifs and hanging kerosene lamps – and informal, contemporary Emirati fare. It is a top spot for lunch with soft khameer flatbread stuffed with fillings including chicken tikka or perhaps smothered in the usual cream cheese and dibs (date syrup). Order with a side of Logma’s famous fries seasoned with Middle Eastern spices.
Cultural meals at Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding For a crash course in both Emirati cuisine and culture, visit the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding in a renovated wind tower home in the historic Al Fahidi district. Dishes such as chicken machboos and lip smackingly sweet luqaimat (doughnuts) drizzled in dibs are actually served while sitting cross legged on soft cushions and carpets on the floor. Hosted by young Emirati volunteers, visitors are actually urged to ask questions about local society, with no subject off limits.
Casual bites at Milas Popular with Emiratis, Milas is actually a buzzing spot at Dubai Mall that combines shiny black clothing and warm wood interiors with accessible Emirati cuisine. Munch on cumin sprinkled dangaw (boiled still steaming khameer and chickpeas) flatbread while you peruse the larger selection provided on an iPad. Start with countless cups of Arabic coffee brewed with cardamom and served with sticky dates, followed by the signature mbahar deyay (chicken in a spicy cream sauce with saffron infused rice).