Since times immemorial, traditional food of UAE has always been a delicacy to die for. So steeped in tradition, some dishes are sweet even to decay your sweet tooth, while others are spicy enough to make smoke come out of your ears.
The cuisine of UAE contains delicious dishes that are full of various flavors that all come together to create something special. In addition, it shares similarities with the cuisine of its neighboring countries like Saudi Arabia, Oman, and even Mughal Indian cuisine.
If you wish to get such vibes after eating food, then you have come to the right place. I would highly recommend you taste traditional UAE food to get a taste of their culture and tradition that got passed down for centuries.
Best Traditional Food Of UAE
In my opinion, some of the best traditional food of UAE with pictures and names are:
Where To Eat: Easily available in many street food vendors
Price: 15 AED – 30 AED
Manakish is a traditional Lebanese delicacy that has been imbibed in the culture of the UAE as well. This should be renamed “Middle Eastern Pizza” – because that’s what it actually is.
The Manakish gets made with bread filled to the brim with cheese, loads of vegetables, and meat, with a dash of oil on top. In addition to being one of the best snacks amongst middle eastern nations, this is by far the best traditional food of UAE.
2. Al Harees
Where To Eat: Harees Al Wadha, Abu Dhabi
Price: 21 AED (Small plate – serves one), 32 AED (Medium plate – serves two), 42 AED (Large plate – serves three)
One of the oldest traditional food of UAE, you will get to see this dish in almost every marriage ceremony and festival in the country. Popular during the religious month of Ramadan, this dish is easy to make, despite taking a few hours to prepare.
Al Harees is made by boiling wheat and salted water in a clay pot for an hour or two. After that, meat is added to the mixture before being boiled for three more hours. While it may take quite some time to get the dish on your table, it is worth the wait.
3. Al Machboos
Where To Eat: Al Fanar Restaurant and Cafe, Dubai Festival City Mall
Price: 50 – 70 AED
If you have ever tasted the famous Indian delicacy Biryani, consider this its middle eastern cousin. One of the few rice-based traditional food of UAE, the Al Machboos is the traditional food of UAE, with a stress on the word “the.”
Like the Indian biryani, it is made by steaming rice in an oven with lots of spices and meat. Sometimes, shrimp and fish are used instead. However, what makes this different from the traditional Indian biryani is the inclusion of Loomy – dried lemons that give it its tangy flavor.
Where To Eat: Al Halabi in the Mall of the Emirates, Aroos Damascus, Al Muraqqabad
Price: 20 AED – 30 AED
If you are on a diet or a vegan, then the Fattoush is what you need to taste. One of the healthier traditional food of UAE on this list, this salad with bread is a fantastic choice for green food lovers.
Levantine bread is mixed with diced tomatoes, cucumber, onion, and garlic. It then gets topped off with lettuce and mint leaves. Finally, it gets served with a dash of lime to make it lip-smackingly tasty.
5. Kousa Mahshi
Where To Eat: Leila Restaurant, Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Dubai
Price: 30 AED – 50 AED
If you are up for some tasty fun with vegetables, then try out the Kousa Mahshi. There are two variants available of this traditional food of UAE – one is made with zucchini, while the other gets made with courgettes.
Here, the zucchini or the courgettes get stuffed with rice, meat, and yogurt. Diners typically serve it with mint leaves and garlic paste on top. Best served with a glass of Lebanese wine to soak in the flavors.
Where To Eat: Logma in Boxpark- 28 AED per plate, and Al Fanar in Dubai Festival
Price: 40 AED
One of the best traditional food of UAE to have for breakfast in the morning, the Balaleet is deliciously sweet and salty at the same time. This vermicelli-based dish is made with a dash of rose water, saffron, and cinnamon as sweeteners.
When you are served this food, it will look similar to an American chop suey because of the whole egg omelet on top and some added pistachio for garnishing.
Where To Eat: Bu Qtair Fish Restaurant, old 32B street, Fishing Harbor 2
Price: 60 AED -90 AED
By far the most famous traditional food of UAE, the Khuzi (also known as the Ghuzi) is rightfully termed the national food of UAE. Another rice-based dish similar to the Al Machboos is served with roasted lamb or mutton on top of spicy rice that contains a great fill of vegetables and nuts.
Where To Eat: Ayam Elezz, Umm Suqeim
Price: 30 AED
Fatteh is an excellent evening traditional food of UAE. This three-layered meal is packed with lots of ingredients.
The bottom layer has bread stuffed with stock. The middle layer is a thick layer of chickpeas, aubergines, and stuffed vegetables, while the top layer is a thin layer of yogurt and tahini sauce. Have it alongside pine nuts, paprika, and parsley to get an overdose of varieties of lip-smacking flavors.
Where To Eat: The Arabian Tea House Restaurant and Cafe in Bastakiya
Price: 25 AED
To end your meal with what is the traditional food of UAE that counts as a dessert, this sweet dumpling is made with milk, sugar, butter, yeast, saffron, flour, and cardamom. Whip these ingredients together to create a fried sweet batter until it’s golden in color. You will find this easily during the month of Ramadan.
Where To Eat: Any roadside tea stall
Price: 1 AED
If you want traditional food of UAE that can count as a beverage, then the Karak is the national tea of this middle eastern country. Served in small paper cups, have a cake or sweet to gulp them down together.
Frequently Asked Questions:–
Ans: Shawarma and Al Machboos are the most traditional food in UAE.
Ans: Localities consider Khuzi or Ghuzi to be the national food of the UAE.
Ans: Al Machboos and Khuzi are the purely traditional food of UAE with names from Dubai.
Ans: Shawarma and Hummus are the most eaten food in Dubai.
The traditional food of UAE is delicious enough to visit the country once in your lifetime, or maybe more if you like the food and the place. So eat those above ten unique dishes from UAE that will leave a mark on your taste buds for years to come.
If you want to read more about each of these dishes, read our other articles here at UAE Universe!