Food in the United Arab Emirates

Introducing some of the top eats and treats that the UAE has to offer.


Falafels are popular in many Middle Eastern countries and have become a common street food in the United Arab Emirates and beyond. To make falafel chickpeas (or fava beans) are ground with a blend of spices before being shaped and deep fried. Usually they’re then topped with pickled vegetables, salads and sauces and served wrapped in a roti-like flatbread.


This is more a style of food preparation than a dish in its own right but it’s hugely popular in the UAE. If a meat is cooked in the shawarma style then strips of the meat and strips of fat are tightly layered or stacked on a skewer (goat, lamb and chicken are typical meats used). The skewer rotates next to a heat source and the meat gradually roasts on all sides. Cooked meat is shaved off the skewer and served in a Roti with salad. This process is now used to create kebabs all over the world!

Al Khabeesah

Popular desserts in the UAE tend to be very sweet and this popular offering is no exception. Flour is heated in a pan until it turns brown. Once browned, rose water, ghee (a type of clarified butter), cardamom and sugar are added. The mixture is cooked out for a little longer then served. Other Arab nations have their own versions of this pudding but the roasted flour gives Al Khabeesah its unique, crumbly texture.


This classic UAE dish not only tastes good but is good for you. Tabouli salad is made by mixing together fresh vibrant ingredients like mint, bulgur wheat, parsley, tomato, olive oil and lemon juice and serving them in a large lettuce leaf. In some areas tabouli is additionally seasoned with allspice and cinnamon.


These are the UAE version of dumplings. A fermented batter is portioned into small blobs and deep fried. Once cooked and crispy the Luqaimat are drizzled with a sweet syrup (date syrup is a common pairing). Despite the deep frying element there’s even a diet named after these tasty little bites!


This is definitely a dish for a meat lover. Khuzi is a show-stopping dish often served in larger restaurants. A whole lamb is stuffed, roasted and served up on a bed of cooked rice mixed with spices, vegetables and nuts. Perfect for a celebratory feast, but not the sort of meal you’d typically cook at home!

Al Khanfaroosh

This is another sweet dish and one which has a similar flavour to Al Khabeesah. It’s made of several of the same ingredients as the former desert but has a very different texture. Flour is combined with yeast, egg, rose water, saffron, sugar and cardamom. The mixture is left to rest so that the flavours can infuse. After that it’s divided into pieces and fried in ghee. Some recipes call for the flour to be replaced with finely ground rice.