Traditional Food in the UAE: What is Emirati Cuisine? Skip to content
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Traditional Food in the UAE: What is Emirati Cuisine?

Traditional Food in the UAE: What is Emirati Cuisine?

Emirati cuisine has always fascinated many of us because it dates far back to centuries of tradition and local ingredients. It shows the rich history of the UAE as a desert nation and what it has to offer when it comes to culinary options. 

You'd hardly find these meals anywhere else in the world, perhaps a different version, but a local can always tell the differences.

If you're an expat or a foodie who wants to taste some of the best Emirati cuisines in this desert country, this article is what you can call a culinary tour. 

Why? I'm about to point you in the right direction. 

We'll start with the ones you should try during breakfast, lunch, and desserts. Stick around as we jump right into this rich culinary experience.  


Traditional Emirati Breakfast Dishes

Traditional Emirati Breakfast Dishes

To start the day off well, many UAE mornings feature a tempting spread of sweet and savory treats. Shall we delve into a few of the most cherished morning meals:


The delicate vermicelli noodles in balaleet are boiled until they are soft, and then a fragrant mixture of rose water, saffron, and cardamom is added to make them sweet. 

The combination of the sweet and savory flavors is enhanced by the unusual textural contrast created by the soft noodles and the somewhat crisp topping. A fried egg is a common topping as an extra layer of protein and richness.

Beidh Wa Tomat or Shakshuka

Eggs are softly cooked in a boiling tomato sauce; the sauce explodes with the flavors of peppers, onions, and warm spices like coriander and cumin in this hearty dish called Beidh Wa Tomat, also known as Shakshuka. Enjoy a hearty and nourishing breakfast that's full of color and protein.

Emirati Pancakes - Chabab Bread

A perfect way to start the day, these pancakes are thin and fluffy. They are griddle-cooked to a golden brown and somewhat crispy outside, using a traditional recipe that calls for flour, milk, and a hint of yeast. 

They have just the right amount of sweetness and airiness, and when topped with date syrup or honey, they make you feel good and ready to take on the day.

Rasa Bread

A mildly leavened and delicately sweet flatbread, it goes well with savory sauces or honey. Use it as a scoop for tasty bits of food, or eat it plain.

Cooked Chickpeas or Dango

Typically spiced with turmeric, cumin, and other herbs, these protein-packed chickpeas are great on their own or mixed into your morning meal for an additional burst of energy.


Traditional Lunch Dishes of the United Arab Emirates

Traditional Lunch Dishes of the United Arab Emirates

The UAE's lunch is often the most important meal of the day, and it's known for its delectable array of traditional and flavorful meals.


The center of Emirati comfort cuisine is Harees, a wheat and beef porridge that is boiled until it is soft and seasoned with spices.

Samak Mashwi

Imagine the flavor of the most recent catch, straight from the crystal-clear waters of the Arabian Gulf, says Samak Mashwi. Envision it lightly spiced with a bright combination of chilies, paprika, and cumin and maybe marinated in lemon juice to bring out its inherent sweetness. The UAE's passion for fresh seafood is on full display in the succulent and savory Samak Mashwi, which is grilled to perfection.


This stew is full of flavor and fills you up. The gradual cooking of tender lamb or chicken with vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes, and onions yields a flavorful and wholesome foundation.

To let the regag bread (a thin, crispy flatbread) soak up all the flavorful stew, it is spooned over a bed of it. Sharing this dish with loved ones is the best way to celebrate a special occasion.


This dish is frequently thought of as the national dish of the UAE. Simmering rice with fragrant spices called "bezar" and meat or fish for a long time. The pinnacle of classic Emirati tastes. 

Cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, and turmeric are the usual ingredients in bezar, although the exact proportions may differ from one home to the next. 

In addition to enhancing the rice's flavor, these spices help create an appetizing scent. The traditional way to cook machboos is in a big pot at low heat, which allows the flavors to combine harmoniously.


Traditional Lunch Dishes of the United Arab Emirates

Traditional Desserts of UAE

Sweet and filling, desserts in the UAE typically incorporate regional ingredients like dates and aromatic spices. Now, let's enjoy some of our favorites:

Luqaimat: A mouthwatering blend of crunchy deep-fried dumplings and sweet date syrup, these bring together a variety of textures for a truly authentic Emirati experience.

Aseeda: Aseeda is a hearty pudding that combines wheat flour, dates, and aromatic spices such as saffron and cardamom. Indulgent, aromatic, and utterly fulfilling.

Al Batheetha: The crumbly, strongly flavorful delicacy known as Al Batheetha is made by blending dates with roasted wheat flour, butter, and spices. This is proof positive of the date's centrality to Arabic cooking.


Traditional Lunch Dishes of the United Arab Emirates

Embedded in the rich culinary legacy of the United Arab Emirates is a wide variety of dishes that are sure to please any palate, from stews made with aromatic spices to sweet treats made with date syrup. 

No matter your level of culinary expertise or level of curiosity about this dynamic region, delving into the traditional foods of the UAE will take you on a delightful culinary adventure filled with rich flavors, rich traditions, and amazing experiences!

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