food

Eat Like a Local on your Next trip to Dubai

Travel

Dubai is a modern mirage in the Desert that is known for its state of the art Architecture and sheer opulence. How about the food though?

What do the Lamborghini driving, Lion Back Riding, Purchasing Gold off of an ATM people of Dubai eat? Well, that’s what we are gonna be taking a look at today and you won’t be disappointed because Dubai’s food is an amalgamation of Multiple cuisines being served under a single roof. You also have Emirati Cuisine that is specific to the Emirates. So I’ve gone ahead and compiled a list of some of the awesome delicacies that Dubai has to offer

1. Mandi – Is that Biryani I’m Spying?

Fragrant yellow basmati rice with Goat or Poultry meat on top, its a biryani but it’s not. It’s actually a dish that originates from Yemen. So, Its not Emirati Cuisine as such but it is commonly consumed in Dubai. What differentiates a Mandi from a Biryani you ask? Well, the major difference is that for mandi, goat meat is cooked very slowly in an underground pit which results in the meat becomes so tender, That it literally falls off the bone. You also get a chicken variant of the dish and the spices used to flavor the rice is also slightly varied. What it all adds up to though is a wonderful and wholesome dish that is best experienced with those you love, all eating off the same big plate. It’s a very communal dish and the slow-cooked meat is to die for. So this is definitely high on the list of must-try foods in Dubai.

Where to get started:

Just a 10-minute drive from Jumeirah beach is Al Marhabani. It’s an awesome place to dine at and you can get a private room where you can sit with your friends or family and have a relaxed meal and experience Mandi in a very traditional form, served at floor level on a big plate that everyone can dig into.

2. Margoog – Something’s stewing

Margoog is a stew dish that is traditionally served during Ramadan for iftar, The meal that Muslims take during the evenings of Ramadan to break the fast. If you are familiar with Iftar foods you might know that a lot of them are actually quite loaded. The objective being, that the food gives you a kick of energy after fasting for a day. The Margoog is no different, with a hearty mix of vegetables, Meat and Whole Wheat Pasta discs made into a stew. It fills both your tummy and your soul, a very comforting dish to say the least.

Where to Get started:

Well, good Margoog is hard to come by and its best had at an Emirati home-cooked fresh. Well, the good thing is that Emiratis are very welcoming and they are known to be amazing hosts. So I suggest you make a friend or two while you’re in Dubai.

3. Regag Bread – Or Was it Rugag or Reqaq bread? I honestly don’t know at this point

From the title, you might be confused as to what its actual name is. Well, I tried searching for an answer and I couldn’t find a name that was universally accepted. What is universally accepted though is that Regan is amazing? It’s a middle eastern twist on a crepe but very thin and quite crunchy and is common street food in Dubai. Traditionally it’s accompanied with a stew or soup and the crunchy bread goes really well with it. But, the street variation of the dish that is filled with a bit of cheese and a drizzle of fish sauce, that’s the one we are after. The texture and overall flavour profile of the bread are very similar to that of dosa and It looks like one too. However, it’s very satisfying and also a light on the pocket as well. So when you’re out and about doing your thing in Dubai, you can just grab a quick Regag and be on your way.

Where to get Started:

You find Regag in a lot of small pop-ups right outside grocery stores. They are quite easy to find and the Regag we had was from a place called Al Labeeb Grocery which was quite close to Jumeirah beach. This snack should be relatively easy to find when you’re exploring Dubai.

4. Luqaimat – Soft Fluffy Goodness

We’ve been talking about all these heavy dishes filled with meat and rice so, let’s break that for a minute and take a look at something that will tickle your sweet tooth. Luqaimat is basically deep-fried dough balls infused with cardamom & saffron with a healthy amount of date syrup poured right on top. Its very light and fluffy and immensely satisfying. The inside of a Luqaimat is very soft, you’ve got a nice crispy exterior and the date syrup gives it the perfect kick of sweetness. Served quite regularly during iftar and also had as a snack during evenings with either Karak (Tea) or Arabian coffee, The luqaimat is a mainstay and a quintessential Emirati dish. 

Where to get started:

Luqaimat is also found in a lot of small pop up shops around Dubai. However, I do have a recommendation. Visit Al Fanar restaurant & cafe that is in the Dubai Festival Mall if you want to experience what Emirati cuisine is all about. Al Fanar is one of the few places in Dubai that serves true Emirati Cuisine and so it gets a definite recommendation from my side.

5. Machboos – Zesty Hearty Rice

The last on our list today is Machboos, a one-pot rice dish that is cooked with onions, tomatoes, saffron, a bunch of other spices and either goat or poultry meat. You can also find seafood variations of this dish as well. But, more importantly, the secret ingredient that elevates this dish is the dried lemons. It gives the dish a zesty flavour that isn’t overpowering and it’s just great comfort food. A one-pot dish that feels like home and makes you wanna take a nap after you’re done.

Where to get started:

Al Fanar Restaurant and Cafe in Dubai festival city mall is the place to go to if you want authentic Emirati Cuisine. I just can’t say this enough, definitely visit it if you have the chance to.

So, that was my list of favourite Emirati cuisine. One big takeaway I’d have to give you guys is that it’s really hard to find Emirati food in restaurants and eateries around Dubai. When Emiratis walk out of their homes they want to try something different and not what they have at home.

So apart from a handful of restaurants, the best way to experience Emirati cuisine is to have it an Emirati household and I don’t think it gets any more local than that. There are also a ton of other dishes that Dubai has to offer and these are my favourites. Do you have any that you think deserves a spot on the list? Well, do let me know.

If you need any help planning a trip to Dubai and need guidance on what can be done, Well you can reach out to the destination experts at Pickyourtrail and they will be able to give you the best recommendations and plan the perfect trip for you.