New to the country or not, these are the Middle Eastern foods that you must try.
With the ever changing cultural diversity of the country, if there is one thing that stays constant it is the food that is dished out. The cuisine of the region is diverse while having a degree of homogeneity.
We list down the following “must-eat” dishes as a crash-course of Arabic Food in the UAE.
Hummus is a Levantine dip or spread made from cooked, mashed chickpeas or other beans, blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic.
Manakish, is a popular Levantine food consisting of dough topped with thyme, cheese, or ground meat. Similar to a pizza, it can be sliced or folded, and it can be served either for breakfast or lunch.
Halloumi, a white sheep/goat-milk cheese from Cyprus, is sold in many grocery stores. The texture is firm and rubbery and the flavor is like mozzarella, only with more salt.
Ful medames or simply fūl, is a dish of cooked fava beans served with vegetable oil, cumin, and optionally with chopped parsley, garlic, onion, lemon juice, chili pepper and other vegetable, herb and spice ingredients.
FalafelFalafel is a deep-fried ball, doughnut or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both. Falafel is a traditional Middle Eastern food, commonly served in a pita, which acts as a pocket, or wrapped in a flatbread known as taboon; “falafel” also frequently refers to a wrapped sandwich that is prepared in this way. The word Falāfil is the plural of Filfil, meaning “pepper”. The word itself spread and is used in other languages such as Persian from the Sanskrit word pippalī, meaning “long pepper”
Tabbouleh is a Levantine vegetarian dish (sometimes considered a salad) made of tomatoes, finely chopped parsley, mint, bulgur, and onion, and seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Some variations add garlic or lettuce, or use couscous instead of bulgur.
Baba ghanoush is a Levantine dish of cooked eggplant mixed with tahina (made from sesame seeds), olive oil and various seasonings.
Fattoush is a Levantine bread salad made from toasted or fried pieces of Arabic flat bread combined with mixed greens and other vegetables, such as radishes and tomatoes. Fattush belongs to the family of dishes known as fattat (plural of fatteh), which use stale flatbread as a base.
Umm Ali is the Egyptian equivalent to bread and butter pudding and is normally made with puff pastry combined with a load of heavy cream with added nuts and dried fruits.
Shanklish is a type of cow’s milk or sheep milk cheese in Levantine cuisine. It is typically formed into balls of approximately 6 cm diameter, which are often covered in za’atar and Aleppo pepper, and then aged and dried. The most common spice is thyme, thus giving the cheese its appearance somewhat resembling a dirty tennis ball. Shanklish is also sold in much smaller balls or unformed.
Shawarma is a Levantine meat preparation, where lamb, chicken, turkey, beef, veal, or mixed meats are placed on a spit (commonly a vertical spit in restaurants), and may be grilled for as long as a day. Shavings are cut off the block of meat for serving, and the remainder of the block of meat is kept heated on the rotating spit. Shawarma can be served on a plate (generally with accompaniments), or as a sandwich or wrap. Shawarma is usually eaten with tabbouleh, fattoush, taboon bread, tomato, and cucumber. Toppings include tahini, hummus, pickled turnips, and amba.
Shish Taouk is a kebab of Turkish origin, but is now found throughout most of the Middle East and in some parts of Africa. It is simply bite sized chicken cubes that are marinated with Turkish spices, then skewered and grilled.
Rice filled dolmas are served cold with a drizzling of lemon juice and olive oil. Dolmas usually have a combination of spices that are both savory and aromatic, a culinary practice of Arab origins.
In the simplest form, koftas consist of balls of minced or ground meat—usually beef, chicken, lamb, or pork—mixed with spices and/or onions.
Baklava is a rich, sweet dessert pastry made of layers of filo filled with chopped nuts and sweetened and held together with syrup or honey.