Traditional Emirati Food
- Due to harsh desert conditions, the traditional food of the United Arab Emirates uses a lot of meat, cereals and dairy.
- Vegetables are difficult to grow and are not strongly featured in the diet. Traditional dishes include Ma’louba, Margooga, Harees, Machbous, Arsee’ah, Fireed, Jisheid and Mishwy.
- Meats traditionally used were chicken or small fowl, such as Houbara bustards, and goats.
- As camels are highly prized for their milk and transporting ability, the eating of camel meat is normally reserved for special occasions.
The dishes are usually like stews, as everything is often cooked in a single pot. Saffron, cardamom, turmeric and thyme are the core flavors used in Emirati cookery. The introduction of rice to the diet came when the traders moved to the region. Leaves from indigenous tress, such as the Ghaff were also used to stuff small birds, releasing their flavor during the cooking process.
Breakfast in the UAE usually features breads like ragag, khameer and chebab, served with cheese, date syrup, or eggs. These were made over a curved hot plate, resembling a stone, which would have been used by the Bedouins. Balaleat is another dish, but its advent again with the traders, who introduced pasta.
Sweet options include luqeymat, a deep fried ball of pancake batter that is rolled in sesame seed and then drizzled with date syrup. Other desserts include khabeesa, which is flour bread crumbs blended with sugar, cardamom and saffron or bethitha, a semolina blended with crushed dates, cardamom and clarified butter.