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What is the traditional food of UAE?

What is the traditional food of UAE?

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) boasts a rich culinary heritage that is a reflection of its diverse cultural influences and unique geographic location. The traditional food of UAE is a delightful blend of flavors and aromas, combining the best of Arabian, Persian, Indian, and African cuisines. In this article, we will explore some of the most popular traditional dishes that have been passed down through generations in the UAE.

1. Machbous

Machbous is a traditional Emirati rice dish that is commonly prepared for special occasions and gatherings. This flavorful dish consists of slow-cooked spiced rice, tender meat (such as lamb or chicken), and a variety of vegetables. The unique combination of spices, including saffron, turmeric, and cardamom, gives Machbous its distinctive taste and vibrant color.

Machbous is a dish that brings people together, as its preparation often involves the whole family. The long process of slow-cooking the rice with aromatic spices and succulent meat creates an enticing aroma that fills the air. The beauty of Machbous lies in its ability to cater to different tastes and preferences. Some variations of the dish include adding dried fruits, such as raisins or dates, to enhance the sweetness and complexity of flavors.

To fully enjoy Machbous, it is common to serve it with a side of tangy yogurt or a refreshing salad. The combination of the rich and spiced flavors of Machbous with the coolness and freshness of yogurt creates a perfect balance on the palate. Additionally, a squeeze of lemon juice can be added to elevate the flavors even further.

2. Ghuzi

Ghuzi is a popular traditional dish in the UAE, particularly in the city of Abu Dhabi. It is often considered the national dish of the country. Ghuzi is a whole roasted lamb or goat, stuffed with fragrant rice, roasted nuts, and a blend of aromatic spices. The meat is tender and succulent, while the rice absorbs the flavors from the roasted meat, creating a truly delectable combination.

The preparation of Ghuzi is a labor of love, as it requires time and attention to achieve the perfect balance of flavors and textures. The meat is marinated with a mixture of spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and coriander, before being slow-roasted to achieve a crispy outer layer and a juicy interior. The rice, on the other hand, is cooked with a blend of aromatic spices, including saffron, cardamom, and rose water, to infuse it with a heavenly fragrance.

Ghuzi is often served as the centerpiece of a grand feast, symbolizing generosity and hospitality. It is traditionally enjoyed with the hands, as it is believed to enhance the eating experience and create a stronger connection between the food and the person consuming it. Alongside Ghuzi, a variety of side dishes, such as hummus, tabbouleh, and fattoush, are served to complement the rich flavors of the roasted meat.

3. Harees

Harees is a traditional Arabic dish that has been enjoyed in the UAE for centuries. It is made by cooking wheat and meat (usually chicken or lamb) together until they form a porridge-like consistency. The dish is then seasoned with spices, such as cinnamon and cardamom, and garnished with ghee (clarified butter) and fried onions. Harees is often consumed during the holy month of Ramadan and is believed to provide nourishment and energy.

Harees is a dish that holds a special place in Emirati culture, especially during Ramadan. It is considered a symbol of communal togetherness and is often shared among family and friends. The preparation of Harees involves hours of slow cooking, which allows the wheat and meat to break down and blend together, resulting in a smooth and creamy texture.

The flavors of Harees are enhanced by the addition of aromatic spices, which infuse the dish with a warm and comforting taste. The fragrant ghee and crispy fried onions add a delightful crunch and richness to each spoonful. Harees is not only enjoyed as a main course during Ramadan but also as a satisfying breakfast option, providing a hearty start to the day.

In addition to its delicious taste, Harees is also known for its nutritional benefits. The combination of wheat and meat provides a good source of protein and carbohydrates, making it a nourishing and energy-boosting dish. It is often recommended for individuals who need a quick and wholesome meal.

4. Majboos

Majboos, also known as Kabsa, is a popular rice dish in the UAE. It is made by cooking long-grain rice with a mixture of spices, including saffron, black lime, and various Arabic spices. The rice is then layered with tender meat, such as chicken, lamb, or fish, and garnished with fried onions, raisins, and nuts. Majboos is a flavorful and aromatic dish that is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.

Majboos is a dish that showcases the vibrant flavors of the region. The combination of spices, such as the earthiness of saffron and the tanginess of black lime, creates a complex and tantalizing taste. The aroma that fills the kitchen while cooking Majboos is simply irresistible.

The choice of meat in Majboos can vary depending on personal preference and availability. Chicken is often used for its tender and juicy texture, while lamb adds a rich and hearty element. The use of fish, such as hammour or kingfish, brings a unique twist to the dish, with its delicate flavors complementing the fragrant rice perfectly.

To complete the Majboos experience, the rice is garnished with a generous amount of fried onions, raisins, and nuts. This adds a delightful contrast to the dish, with the sweetness of raisins and the crunch of nuts creating a burst of flavors in every bite. Majboos is commonly served with a side of refreshing salad, such as fattoush or tabbouleh, to balance out the richness of the rice and meat.

5. Luqaimat

No discussion of traditional Emirati food would be complete without mentioning Luqaimat. These small, deep-fried dumplings are a beloved sweet treat in the UAE. They are made from a mixture of flour, yeast, sugar, and saffron, which is then deep-fried until golden brown. The dumplings are served with a drizzle of date syrup, known as dibs, and are often enjoyed during festive occasions, such as Eid Al-Fitr.

Luqaimat holds a special place in Emirati culture, as it is a symbol of celebration and joy. The process of making Luqaimat involves mixing the ingredients to form a smooth batter, which is then deep-fried to achieve a crispy exterior and a soft, fluffy interior. The addition of saffron gives the dumplings a vibrant yellow color, adding to their visual appeal.

The real star of Luqaimat is the date syrup, which adds a sweet and sticky glaze to the dumplings. The combination of the crispy texture of the dumplings and the gooey sweetness of the syrup creates a delightful contrast that is simply irresistible. Luqaimat is often served as a dessert or as a centerpiece on dessert platters during festive gatherings, bringing a touch of sweetness to the occasion.

6. Balaleet

Balaleet is a unique Emirati breakfast dish that combines sweet and savory flavors. It consists of vermicelli noodles cooked with cardamom, saffron, and rose water, and then topped with a thin omelet. The dish is sweetened with sugar and garnished with fried onions, nuts, and raisins. Balaleet is a delightful way to start the day and is often accompanied by a cup of Arabic coffee.

Balaleet is a dish that represents the fusion of different culinary influences in the UAE. The use of vermicelli noodles, which are commonly found in Indian and Persian cuisines, adds a unique twist to the dish. The aromatic spices, such as cardamom and saffron, infuse the noodles with a warm and fragrant flavor.

The addition of a thin omelet on top of the noodles adds a layer of richness and creaminess to the dish. The omelet is cooked to perfection, with a golden hue and a fluffy texture. The combination of the sweetened noodles, savory omelet, and the crunch of fried onions, nuts, and raisins creates a harmonious balance of flavors and textures.

Balaleet is often enjoyed as a special breakfast or brunch dish, particularly during weekends or holidays. It is a comforting and indulgent meal that sets a positive tone for the day ahead. Alongside Balaleet, a cup of Arabic coffee is often served, providing a bold and aromatic flavor that complements the dish perfectly.


The traditional food of the UAE is a testament to the rich cultural heritage of the region. From aromatic rice dishes like Machbous and Majboos to the succulent roasted lamb of Ghuzi, each dish tells a story and brings people together. Whether you’re visiting the UAE or simply exploring its cuisine, be sure to indulge in these traditional delicacies for an unforgettable culinary experience.


1. What is Machbous?

Machbous is a traditional Emirati rice dish prepared for special occasions and gatherings. It consists of slow-cooked spiced rice, tender meat, and various vegetables.

2. What is Ghuzi?

Ghuzi is a popular traditional dish in the UAE, considered the national dish. It is a whole roasted lamb or goat stuffed with fragrant rice, roasted nuts, and aromatic spices.

3. What is Harees?

Harees is a traditional Arabic dish enjoyed in the UAE. It is made by cooking wheat and meat together until they form a porridge-like consistency and seasoned with spices.

4. What is Majboos?

Majboos, also known as Kabsa, is a popular rice dish in the UAE. It is made by cooking long-grain rice with a mixture of spices and layered with tender meat, garnished with fried onions, raisins, and nuts.

Please note that Luqaimat, mentioned in the blog article, is not included in the provided FAQ as only four questions and answers were requested.

Anwar Abdi
Anwar Abdi
Anwar Abdi is a Canadian business executive and Digital Journalist. Anwar Abdi is the CEO of AMG Brands Network Inc. and the Current Editor-in-Chief of University Magazine. Previously He Worked as an Education contributor at HuffPost. Anwar received a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication at the University of Windsor.
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