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Updated by Joanna James on Mar 16, 2024
Headline for Five Foods to Try in Abu Dhabi – Delectable Emirati Specialities
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Five Foods to Try in Abu Dhabi – Delectable Emirati Specialities

While Abu Dhabi is known for its modern theme parks, desert adventures and cultural attractions, it also offers something that you should not miss; rewarding culinary discoveries! If you love sampling new cuisine, here are five dishes well worth trying on your visit to this emirate.



Popular in the region, machboos (sometimes called makboos) is a relatively simple dish featuring rice and meat. It may sound ordinary, but that is not considering its rich flavours from the variety of spices that are used in its creation. This dish usually is made with chicken, though in Abu Dhabi, other meats are also made use of. Typically, the meat is first cooked in water with a blend of spices and other ingredients including vegetables like green peppers, tomatoes and potatoes. The water that the meat is cooked in is also used to cook the spiced rice which lends to its taste.



When dining in Abu Dhabi, one can also look to try the dish known as harees which is served during Ramadan or special occasions like weddings. This local favourite consists of wheat and meat which is usually chicken. The preparation time can take quite a while, though the result is a unique culinary treat. The traditional way to make harees involves cooking ground wheat in a pot and then adding the meat; it is left to simmer till the meat is "dissolved" and after that, it is put in a clay pot and buried in a hole in the ground with hot coals for several hours.



No trip to this emirate would be complete without sampling some seafood; in Abu Dhabi, restaurant options including those at properties the likes of Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara serve diverse dishes with freshly caught fish. Amongst the many local dishes worth trying is madrooba which is made using salt-cured fish that is quite popular amongst locals. The fish is thoroughly washed so it is not that salty and is cooked with various spices in a pot; to this, flour is added which gives the broth a thick texture along with ghee and it is perfect to eat with flatbread.



Comparable to a meat soup, salona is a traditional stew that also consists of vegetables and a special mix of spices that make it amongst the most popular dishes. The meat is first boiled along with onions and to this, fresh vegetables are added; generally, veggies like courgettes, okra and eggplant are used. To lend to its flavour, tomato paste, as well as spices, are also mixed in and the resulting dish is a foodie delight that can be enjoyed with rice or pita bread.



No list of dishes in Abu Dhabi would be complete without also mentioning a much-loved dessert. Luqaimat is a yummy sweet treat that consists of pastry balls that are deep-fried and smothered in honey or date syrup. It is usually served after iftar during the month of Ramadan. Typical ingredients include flour, butter, sugar, milk, cardamom and saffron. Soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside, it is bound to become your new favourite dessert!