7 unique foods to try in Dubai
March 20, 2020
My favorite thing about traveling is having a chance to try the local cuisine. Needless to say, there are plenty of yummy foods to try in Dubai.
And of course, I didn’t miss a chance to stuff my face with some of those goodies.
Some you might have heard of or seen before and some are pretty unique to the area.
In this blog post, I am going to focus on things I have not tried before my trip to Dubai.
1. Camel Milk Products
One of the most unique things to try in Dubai is camel milk products. I tried camel milk on its own and the taste is thicker and saltier than cow milk.
Personally, I am not a huge fan of cow milk so to me the camel milk didn’t taste that great. Definitely give it a try though!
We tried camelccino, which is a regular cappuccino with camel milk instead of cow milk.
It tastes pretty good compared to just the camel milk on its own. So if you are not brave enough, try it in your coffee first.
Another product you can try is camel milk chocolate, which is regular chocolate made with camel milk instead of cow milk.
They have different flavored chocolates such as pistachio, dates, hazelnuts etc. Overall it’s definitely something unique to try and it makes cool presents to bring to your family and friends.
You can try camel milk products in a cafe called The Majlis. It is located in Dubai Mall, on the ground level. Try their dates cake or their ice cream.
Camel milk chocolates
2. Karak (Tea)
Karak tea is made from black tea [usually loose leaf], evaporated milk, saffron, cinnamon, cardamom and sugar [optional].
The taste is very milky and sweet. You can find this type of tea in many places around the city.
Sometimes it is served in restaurants/cafes and sometimes you can find a small booth where they are selling it [kind of like a lemonade stand].
Karak tea is a very popular Middle Eastern drink and is usually consumed in the mornings to wake you up.
I would have to say it is definitely a comfort tea and drinking it gives you a warm, cozy feeling.
Some dates and Karak tea
3. Dates/Chocolate covered dates
If you like dates, you are in the right place as the United Arab Emirates are famous all over the world with their dates.
We bought a bunch of different types and they were all amazing.
Also, try the chocolate covered dates which come in a variety of flavors. Some of them are coconut, dark or white chocolate, caramel, etc.
I personally liked the chocolate covered dates more [because I’m a pig] and ended up eating a few bags of those.
I highly recommend you to try dates – either on their own or with chocolate.
Keep in mind that dates are very sweet and I find it hard to eat more than a few at a time. So don’t go and buy huge bags of them if you are not sure you can eat a lot.
Chocolate covered dates
4. Saffron (spice)
Saffron is among the world’s most expensive spices. The reason for that is that its production is extremely labor-intensive.
The flower that it comes from is called Crocus Sativa and each flower has three red thread-like stigmas in the center.
So you can imagine how many flowers you need in order to get just a few grams.
The saffron has a very earthy flavor and it colors the dishes in a golden color.
Saffron is used in cooking seafood meals, risotto, and dishes with rice.
What we tried was a saffron latte, which was pretty sweet. If you are not a fan of really sweet drinks [like me], ask the waiter if they can make the drink half sweet.
We were not able to find any saffron dishes in the 2 weeks we were there, probably due to the price of the spice.
Even though, we did ask around and tried a few Arabic restaurants in the hopes of finding some saffron dishes but had no luck.
I saw a few places that offered the saffron latte so it might be easier to find those.
This is what saffron looks like before cooking
5. Za’atar (spice)
It is a blend of spices that can be used in many different dishes.
You can sprinkle Za’atar over hummus, fish, chicken, soups, vegetables, etc. It is a very popular and versatile spice.
Za’atar is green and flaky and is mainly used for appetizers and entrees [not for sweets or desserts].
We tried it on some manakish bread [flatbread] with some cheese.
You can find Za’atar flavored dishes everywhere; they even had some in the grocery store for take-out.
Can buy Za’atar by the bulk
6. Halloumi (cheese)
It is usually made from goat’s and sheep’s milk and it is unripened, which means it’s pretty chewy and solid.
It is excellent when fried or grilled as it does not melt.
Also, it tastes really good on salads and on sandwiches. I don’t find Halloumi cheese to be very salty; in fact, it doesn’t have a very strong taste.
Mix Halloumi and Za’atar and you get a taste made in heaven.
7. Laban (drink)
Laban is a salty yogurt drink. You can buy flavored ones [strawberry, berries, pineapple] or enjoy just the plain one.
It is different than ordinary yogurt because you can actually pour it into a glass and drink it instead of eating it with a spoon.
I personally liked Laban a lot, but I feel like it was extremely fattening.
It has the same health benefits as a yogurt – high in calcium, proteins, and vitamins. It is good for your immune system, digestion, and gut bacteria.
A lot of sources claim that it’s a cooling drink and helps your body deal with the heat outside.
You can find Laban in any grocery store in the UAE.
Laban yogurt drink
Freshly squeezed fruit juices
You absolutely must try watermelon, pomegranate and mango flavors.
A lot of places do a mix of different fruit juices to create a mocktail [a non-alcoholic beverage].
I probably drank thousands of liters of pomegranate juice lol and I regret nothing.
Needless to say, they are super refreshing and healthy. A lot of the mocktails have mint or ginger in them as well.
Also, they make really good ice teas in the UAE
Freshly squeezed juices – pomegranate and watermelon
Dried fruits and nuts
Some nuts to try are cashews, almonds, pistachios and peanuts. They also offer nuts covered in sesame seeds which are very popular.
Dried fruits – apricots, mango, raisins, etc. You can find dried fruits and nuts being sold in bulk in many places such as the souks in Old Dubai.
Fruits and nuts
Most people have heard of those, but I just wanted to mention them here: tabouli salad, fattoush salad, hummus, falafel, grapevine leaves stuffed with rice etc.
They are very tasty and fresh.
A lot of times we would just order appetizers instead of getting entrees.
Appetizers – tabouli salad, fattoush salad, hummus etc
I don’t know if you’re drooling by now, but I certainly am. Dubai offers some of the most exquisite food options and I invite you to take full advantage of them.
Experiment and try new flavors as much as you can.
Have you tried any of the above foods/drinks? Which one is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below.