Discover traditional Emirati dishes

logo image
Popular Emirati dishes to try 20200415T140012 20200521T150534:637256703340663593 Restaurants Food plays a central role during Ramadan when friends and family come together over a wholesome spread every evening. Light breakfast bites decorate the table at Suhoor, the pre-dawn meal, while hearty traditional dishes help break the fast at Iftar. There's no time like now to explore the region’s rich culinary heritage, starting with this list of quintessential dishes to try in Ramadan. Check out these quintessential dishes to try during Ramadan.

Sweet or savoury – sample these essential treats

Food plays a central role in Emirati culture, as friends and family come together over a delicious, generous spread. From light breakfast bites to hearty traditional dishes, these recipes are often a closely-guarded secret, with each family tweaking plates passed down by generations. Immerse yourself in the region’s rich culinary heritage, starting with this list of quintessential local dishes to try. 

sweet or saboury


This ancient Arabic dish is a staple in the UAE, and often serves as the heart of the meal. Dating back to the 10th century, harees consists of mashed wheat mixed with meat – a cooking technique that spread to South Asia (haleem) and even Armenia (harissa). It’s a wholesome meal full of protein, fibre and nutrients that makes it the perfect dish to eat when you’re very hungry.

Order it from:
LocalAwi, Hessa Street, Al Barsha
+971 4 809 6194

Lamb Tagine


Machboos is a traditional dish in the Gulf that is hugely popular in the UAE. Similar to biryani, a staple meal in the Indian subcontinent, machboos is made with basmati rice that’s slow-cooked with an aromatic array of spices and accompanied by seasoned chicken, lamb or seafood. This is much like chicken fouga, which features slow-cooked meat with bezar and saffron spices, and dry lime for a tangy taste.

Order it from:
Arabian Tea House, The Mall, Jumeirah 3
+971 4 341 2855


Much like the sub-continental 'samosa', samboosa is a fried triangular treat, which you can stuff with vegetables, cheese, meats and other mixtures. Samboosas make for a great starter or snack – a light segue into some of the heavier meals listed here. Crunchy on the outside and flavourful on the inside, it’s a savoury treat that always satisfies.

Order it from:
FiLLi, BurJuman
+971 4 385 7038


Aishu laham

This piquant dish is an indisputable favourite. Satisfying in both taste and fill, Aishu laham is a combination of rice and lamb mixed with ginger, ground cinnamon, saffron, garlic and dried lemon. It can be served with a side of cooked lentils or yoghurt to balance the carnival of flavours, making it perfect for people with a low spice tolerance.

Order it from:
Al Fanar, Dubai Festival City Mall
+971 4 232 9966

Aseeda bobar

Simple yet incredibly rich in taste, aseeda bobar is a dessert that has been passed down many generations. Cooked flour, pumpkin, cardamom, saffron and sugar come together to create a sweet purée that makes for the perfect post-dinner palate cleanser.

Order it from:
Al Fanar, Dubai Festival City Mall
+971 4 232 9966

Aseeda bobar


No local dessert spread is complete without kunafa. Made with a fine, noodle-like pastry, doused in sugary syrup and served with a layer of soft white cheese, this dish is kryptonite for anyone with a sweet tooth. It’s crunchy, creamy and chewy all at once, which makes it a delight to eat. Want to keep indulging your sweet tooth? Take a look at our guide to Arabic sweets.

Order it from:
Feras Al Diyafa Sweets, Dubai Festival City Mall
+971 4 341 3123


Another must-try dessert is khabeesa, a sweet dish loved across the Arab world. Like harees, the recipe for khabeesa has been passed down over centuries. It is made using roasted flour, sugar, ghee (clarified butter), cardamom, rose water and saffron – a blend that exudes an irresistible perfume. Khabeesa has porridge-like consistency and is garnished with pistachios, almonds or coconut depending on the chef’s preference.

Order it from:
Al Jawareh Traditional Restaurant, Jumeirah 1
+971 4 257 3333



Although dates are usually associated with Ramadan – muslims use dates to break their fast at sunset, an Islamic tradition set by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) – they are actually eaten all year round. The fruit provides an immediate dose of sugar, essential nutrients and vitamins, and aids in digestion. Often beautifully packaged, they are regularly presented as a traditional gift when going to visit family or friends.

Order it from:
Bateel, Mall of the Emirates
+971 4 393 1536

banner image
English Dubai Corporation of Tourism & Commerce Marketing