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Updated by Joanna James on Mar 16, 2024
Joanna James Joanna James
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Dishes and Beverages to Try while in Abu Dhabi – Traditional Treats

Emirati cuisine is exotic and authentic. Far from the cosmopolitan twists in existence today, true Emirati fare cooked with traditional ingredients is a treat for all foodies.


Harees – Best Sampled During Ramadan

A wheat and meat based dish Harees is a traditionally Arabic dish served at Eid ul Fitre, Ramadan and weddings. Meat consists of either lamb or chicken while the wheat is soaked the previous night and slow cooked with butter and the already pre-cooked meat until it forms a kind of porridge. Seasoned with salt, pepper and cardamoms the dish has a lovely aromatic flavour to it.


Machboos with Dried Limes

Loomi or dried limes add flavour and body to this stew-like dish made with meat, rice, onions and exotic spices. The meat with the dried lime and spices is boiled until quite soft; it is then taken out and rice is added to the stock. Once the rice is boiled the meat is put back and left to slow cook with the rice. Machboos offers quite a distinct flavour and is a favourite at any traditional Abu Dhabi restaurant.


Falafel a Tasty Snack

We all know and love a fresh crunchy falafel and in Abu Dhabi the snack is quite a treat. Interestingly this food is thought of as a side order like French fries although on its own falafel is a wholesome meal. Fried balls of herbs and chickpeas are wrapped up in pitta bread with a mixed salad in a typical falafel; some restaurants may substitute chick peas for fava beans. The Abu Dhabi based Just Falafel chain of eateries is tipped to serve the best.


Khuzi – A Touch of Bedouin Culture

This is a dish that would often take centre stage at a traditional Bedouin Feast. Khuzi is a whole roast lamb or goat and would be a dish you hanker for when touring desert sanctuary Sir Bani Yas Island. The rustic and ruggedly handsome environs of the island home to Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara is ideal for experiencing desert lifestyles amidst a range of free roaming endangered wildlife. There you could tuck into a delicious portion of spiced Khuzi served with rice and nuts at typical Arabic restaurants like Al Shams or while experiencing Bedouin culture at one of the campsites.


Drinks in Abu Dhabi

Cosmopolitan Abu Dhabi in an effort to enhance its image as a top tourist destination has caught on with modern times; alcohol is served to non-Muslims and tourists at many five star resorts and sold at alcohol stores. During Ramadan, no alcohol is served. Instead, you can try the very delicious and refreshing drinks. These include a variety of gourmet coffees for which Abu Dhabi is carving a niche for itself. Do try Karak a rather strong tea made with milk or the delicious milk based saffron tea as well as Zafrani tea. You will love the decadently sweet yoghurt based drinks like Ayran and classics like Jellab which is a refreshingly cold drink made with grape molasses, rose water, pine nuts and sweet raisins.