Monday, January 26, 2009

Traditional Arabic Food

The UAE is an excellent place to sample all types of Gulf and Middle Eastern Cuisine.Buffet spreads usually have huge amounts of food. These will typically contain the following:

Hummous: a dip made from chick peas and sesame seeds
Tabouleh: chopped parsley, mint and crunched wheat
Ghuzi: a whole roast lamb on a bed of rice, mixed with nuts
Wara enab: vine leaves stuffed with rice
Koussa mahshi: stuffed corgettes

Local dishes include:
Matchbous: spiced lamb with rice
Hareis: a rich delicacy of slow cooked wheat and tender lamb
Seafood: served with specialty rice

Naturally dates are an important feature of the varied Arabian meals

Desserts from the region include:
Umm Ali: a type of bread pudding
Esh asaraya: a sweet type of cheesecake with cream on top
Mehalabiya: pudding sprinkled with rose water and pistachios

Seafood is very popular from this region as the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman serve some locale specialities - lobster, cigale, crab, hammour, shrimp, tuna, kingfish, pomfret, and red snapper. Many hotels will have seafood buffets where you can indulge yourself in these various dishes.

A traditional and very popular snack is the shawarma - grilled slices of delicately spiced lamb or chicken, mixed with salad, and rolled inside a pocket of Arabic bread. It is sold all over the the UAE, and is considered the fast food of the Middle East! Some also contain chilli sauce, tomatoes, mayonnaise and french fries.

Another popular Lebanese type food is manakish which is baked bread meal with toppings. Traditionally, it is served for breakfast or lunch depending on its topping, but the bakeries that serve these pastries are usually open late at night. You could liken it to a pizza and usually is it served folded. Some toppings to try for the novice are cheese, zaatar (thyme) with cheese, labneh (yoghurt type cream) or minced beef. If unsure, when ordering try, Manakish Bjibne (with cheese and olives) or Lahem Bel Ajin (open pie topped with ground beef and lamb, pine nuts, onions and herb)

Other dishes you could try are:
Falafel - fried chick peas
Moutabal: Broiled eggplant, blended with tahini and lemon and olive oil
Fried kibbeh - ground meat (usually lamb or mutton) with bulghur wheat and seasonings
Fatteh (with labaan) - baked chicked peas/pita dish (served with a type of Middle Eastern yoghurt)
Shish Tawook - marinated skewered chicken
Khoshkash kebab - skewered meat in a spicy tomato sauce
Arayes kofta - bread with grilled lamb
Fattoush - salad with a tangy lemon dressing topped with crisped pastry
Baba Ghanoush - eggplant mixed with sesame and garlic
Kellaj - Lebanese bread filled with halloumi cheese, charcoal grilled

For deserts, you could try Knafeh, which is a semolina type desert with cheese and syrup. You will see many of the shops offering baklava, which is sweet filo pastry stuffed with nuts and covered in syrup.

Also, as far as drinks go, the availability of fresh juices is amazing and at very reasonable prices. People like to try the fruit cocktail which is a luxurious heavy concoction, that is sprinkled with pistachios. Other fruit juices are available, but if you don't want sugar added, just say so. Sahlab is a milky type drink which is popular during Ramadan. It is quite sweet and topped with cinnamon.

No comments:

Post a Comment