Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) Flag Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates)

Classic Dishes

Listed below are a few of the many dishes associated with the cuisine of the United Arab Emirates. Recipes for these classic dishes and many others can be found in the Recipes section.

APPETIZERS

Samboosa – Filled fried pastries are a common appetizer and snack in the Emirates. This dish is an Indian import that has become an Emirati standard. Although the seasonings and preparation techniques are similar in India and the Emirates, the favorite Emirati filling for samboosa is beef.

BREADS

Raqaq (Crisp Bread) – This is a handkerchief-thin traditional bread. The dough is whole wheat flour, salt, and water, kneaded to a soft dough and allowed to rest. Experienced cooks shape the bread by spreading it, traditionally with their hands, in a very thin layer over a hot skillet. (Cautious or inexperienced cooks use a spatula.) This bread is a standard accompaniment for many popular dishes, especially in wintertime and during Ramadan.

SOUPS

Shouroba Addis – A thick soup similar to the lentil soups common throughout the Middle East, this is considered a cold-weather dish in the Emirates. It is relatively lightly seasoned, normally just with onion, garlic, and cumin.

SALADS

Salata Khadra (Fresh Chopped Salad) – Green salad, or salata khadra, is a cucumber salad that normally includes a little tomato, some parsley, and lemon juice. This salad is usually served as a small side dish with meat.

Tabbouleh – A parsley salad with a little whole wheat, tomato, and onion, seasoned with lemon juice, this dish is a common appetizer.

MAIN DISHES

Kharoof Mahshi (Stuffed Lamb) – Roast stuffed lamb is a dish usually prepared for feasts and weddings or when important guests are expected.

Murraq– This is a stew, normally made with lamb, that is sometimes cooked with vegetables. It is usually heavily seasoned with bezar and other spices, as well as onion and garlic. Stewed chicken is prepared in much the same way and is called de-jaj moarraqor saloona.

Samak Makli (Fried Fish) – Fried fish is an everyday food for most Emiratis. They normally marinate fish in lemon juice, bezar, garlic, and salt before frying, and they generally serve it crisp and well browned along with salad and plain rice. Sometimes, a tomato sauce is served with the fish as well.

SIDE DISHES

Robe– Whole-milk yogurt accompanies most Emirati meals.

DESSERTS

Aseeda– Adding pumpkin purée to sweet wheat flour pudding creates a popular variation on a dish that is cooked among traditional Bedouins as well as in urban areas.

Lugemat – An Emirati sweet, lugemat is small balls of fried dough with date or sugar syrup poured over. The everyday version is usually unsweetened dough with date syrup, but for special occasions or Ramadan, the dough may be sweetened and spiced, and the sugar syrup may also be flavored with saffron or cardamom.

BEVERAGES

Qahwa – Coffee is an everyday beverage consumed at breakfast, while doing business, and when socializing. It is often spiced with saffron, rose water, cardamom, cloves, or some combination thereof.