Another thing the United Arab Emirates is popularly known for, asides being a home to beautiful cities and architectural wonders, is the impeccable gastronomic delights the numerous restaurants in the country has to offer tourists and residents.

The UAE is undoubtedly the destination travelers want to visit, and not only because it is the number one tourist destination in the Middle East, but because they have some of the nicest multicultural dishes too.

Its most populous city, Dubai, has established itself as a fast-growing cosmopolitan city that offers various attractions for tourists across the world. This has also brought the Middle Eastern cuisine to the forefront of the international food scene.

If you ever find yourself here in the United Arab Emirates, below are the 10 best traditional Emirati dishes you must try, and why.

1. Al Harees

Al Harees is one of the most popular traditional dishes, not only in the UAE but in most Arab countries. They call it the Ramadan dish because it is mostly in demand during the holy month and other religious special occasions.

Al Harees is made of meat and wheat amongst other ingredients. It is a very simple dish with few ingredients needed to prepare it but longer cooking duration. The food is seasoned with pepper, cinnamon, and salt.

Why should I try it?

  • Although Al Harees takes longer time than usual, it is surprisingly easy to cook.
  • You get to choose what meat to use with it.
  • It is healthy and tasty at the same time.

2. Al Machboos

Al Machboos is made using rice, meat, onions, various spices and loomi (dried limes). The dish is prepared by boiling the meat together with the spices and loomi which will be taken out of the pot once it becomes soft. Then the rice is added and once that is soft too, the meat is then put back into the pot yet again and the whole thing is left to cook for a little longer.

Why should I try it?

  • This food is very tasty and it is an ideal lunch-time dish.

3. Khuzi

Khuzi, or Ghuzi, is a special dish that serves its true purpose on special occasions. Khuzi is a very filling delicious meal made of roasted lamb or goat, served on a plate of rice and nuts. It is so popular in the UAE that most restaurants have this dish on their menus.

Why should I try it?

  • Well, we love roasted meat around here, and you probably do too. That’s enough reason for you to try it out.

4. Stuffed Camel

This is one of the most amazing UAE dishes. It also holds a World Record in Guinness Book of World Records as one of the biggest dishes served in the world. The Stuffed Camel is what they serve in wedding ceremonies of the elite families and some of the major ingredients are; lamb, chickens, boiled eggs, fish and rice. This food is very enjoyable and so amazing.

Why should I try it?

  • This can’t exactly be classified as a balanced diet but it’s somewhat close to being one, considering the numerous ingredients the dish needs to be tasty.
  • If you’re into bodybuilding, this would have your muscles jumping for joy because it is packed with plenty of protein, creatine, BCAAs, carbs, you name it.

5. Chicken Fouga

Chicken Fouga is another Emirati dish made by slow-cooking the meat with basmati rice and aromatic spices like bezar, a spice mix that originated in the Arabian Gulf region, as well as a pinch of saffron and dry lime.

Why should I try it?

  • This is another excellent local lunch-time dish that is very tasty and filling.

6. Aishu Laham

Aishu Laham is a family favorite during Ramadan, especially for iftar. The very filling and satisfying Emirati cuisine is made of rice and lamb, seasoned with garlic, ginger, dried lime and saffron. It’s best served with a mint yogurt sauce to balance the heat.

Why should I try it?

  • This is an excellent dinner option that will fill you up all night long.

7. Fattoush

Fattoush is a vegan traditional Emirati dish made from diced tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, fresh lettuce, mint leaves, garlic, lemon and olive oil; usually served on Levantine bread. Needless to say, it is the best food for foodies who are looking for healthier options.

This salad goes perfectly well with any meal, and is so popular in the UAE especially in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Why should I try it?

  • Forget the tastiness and awesome look, Fattoush is a great healthy option.
  • It is also a great choice for vegetarians.

8. Thereed

Thereed is a heavily spiced delicious slow-cooked stew made of chicken, lamb or goat and vegetables including marrows, pumpkins, potatoes and tomatoes. This can be made as a pure vegetarian dish as well. Thereed is served with a traditional Emirati flatbread called rigag.

Why should I try it?

  1. This is the way to go if you’re into heavily spiced food. Thereed is also a very popular Ramadan dish.

9. Balaleet

Balaleet is a traditional Emirati sweet and savory breakfast dish. Sometimes served as a dessert, this dish is made of vermicelli sweetened with sugar, cardamom, rose water and saffron, and served with an overlying egg omelette. This is a popular dish during the Islamic holidays of Eid al-Fitr served as the first meal of the day.

Why should I try it?

  • This is an excellent choice of traditional UAE dish that can be eaten as breakfast, brunch, lunch, and even dessert at night.

10. Shawarma

We’re sure you’ve heard of Shawarma even if you don’t reside in the UAE. It is very similar to Greek gyros or Turkish doner kebab, with all the three dishes based on meat that is grilled on a vertical split. It is mostly served in form of pita bread together with its ingredients but can sometimes be served on a plate with vegetables or fries as side dish. Shawarma is one of the most demanded foods in the UAE.

Why should I try it?

  • Needless to say, it is your best bet if you are famished and can’t wait so long to have something in your precious belly.
  • Shawarma is a food you can eat on the go.
  • It is very tasty and easy to prepare (it usually takes less than 20 minutes)