Published On: Thursday Mar 02 2023

Arabic Food: 9 Traditional Dishes You Must Try

To truly understand a culture, you need to enjoy its cuisine. A region or country’s cuisine is much more than food; it's an insight into the stories, feelings and sentiments that form people’s past experiences and beliefs. It embodies every aspect of any given culture - making it truly indispensable. If you're a food enthusiast, sampling Arabic food is a must. With their vibrant spices and healthy ingredients, these traditional dishes promise unique and bold flavours.


Here are 9 traditional Arabic dishes that you should definitely try on your next trip to the Middle East (or at one of the great local Arabic restaurants you can find in Dubai).


  1. Kofta

An iconic part of Arabic food is Kofta - a delicious dish made from ground beef or lamb seasoned with cumin, coriander, and paprika. The meatballs can be formed into different shapes but are typically rolled into balls for cooking. Enjoy it served on top of a luscious tomato-based sauce accompanied by rice or flatbreads; you may also choose to cook them up with vegetables or tahini.



  1. Shawarma

Up next is the incredibly popular shawarma! This sandwich is a renowned street food crafted from thinly-sliced chicken or beef cooked on a skewer and then wrapped in pita bread. One major part of Arabic food is creativity, which shines most in shawarma. Depending on where you are in the Arab world, some add vegetables, fries, or pickles, while others incorporate mayonnaise, tahini, pomegranate molasses, and more. Some restaurants even prepare the meat with onion  and lettuce for extra flavour!

Whether you like it spicy, mild or with extra sauce, shawarma is loved by all throughout the Middle East and beyond. This classic Arabian dish has been a beloved staple for many people in the region for decades!



  1. Fattoush

Step into the Lebanese kitchen and discover one of its most beloved dishes: Fattoush. This classic Middle Eastern salad combines high-quality fresh ingredients, including tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, sweet peppers, and parsley. Tossed in a delightful lemon-olive oil vinaigrette and topped with crunchy fried pita bread to finish it off - no wonder this dish is an all-time favourite.




  1. Baba Ghanoush

Baba Ghanoush is a delicious and expressive dish of Middle Eastern cuisine - roasted eggplant forms the base, tastefully infused with tahini, fresh lemon juice and aromatic garlic. Commonly served as an appetiser accompanied by warm pita bread, this classic Arabic fare speaks to the vibrant culture that created it.



  1. Falafel

When visiting any Middle Eastern country, your first thought is likely to be: where do I find Falafel? These delicious deep-fried chickpea balls packed with spices are a staple of the area's street food scene.

Have you ever experienced the satisfying crunch of freshly fried falafel? Once you have one, it's practically impossible to stop yourself from devouring ten within two minutes. But don't worry; you can also enjoy this Arabic food as a sandwich - commonly served on pita bread with some vegetables and tahini sauce. It's deliciously perfect!



  1. Hummus 

Falafel and hummus are like two peas in a pod; they go together! Hummus is an Arab delight, now found on tables worldwide, making it an international favourite. Whether having a family dinner or snacking with friends, crispy falafels dipped into creamy hummus make for an unforgettable experience.

Hummus is a delightful dip made with chickpeas, a perfect dip for movie nights and adds a tasty twist to any vegetarian dish. Enjoy it as-is, or scoop it up with chips, bread, or whatever your heart desires!




  1. Maklouba

From its cuisine to customs, the Palestinian culture is one of the most vibrant and abundant. Maklouba is a traditional Palestinian dish consisting of rice mixed with either chicken or lamb and aromatic spices. While it's usually served with vegetables like green beans, cauliflower and eggplant, some people also enjoy adding onions, potatoes or carrots to the mix for extra flavour.

And the best part is in its name - the turnover! Maklouba roughly translates to "upside-down", which is how this dish is served after cooking. It's common practice in any household to make a whole show when serving Maklouba at any family function.



  1. Stuffed Grape Leaves

Ask any Arab about grape leaves, and their face will light up with joy. Stuffed grape leaves are a beloved delicacy, usually filled with the perfect combination of rice, herbs, vegetables - or sometimes even meat! This popular Arabic food can be served as an appetiser or a side dish for anyone to enjoy.

For generations, grape leaves have been celebrated across all cultures and kitchens worldwide for their unique flavour, texture, and versatility. They are loved by many around the globe!




  1. Manakeesh 

No weekend breakfast is complete without this Arabic food. Manakeesh is a classic Middle Eastern treat — an oven-baked and tantalisingly flavorful flatbread smothered in either meat, cheese or Za'atar. This has been a favourite of Arab households for generations and is typically served as the perfect morning meal alongside a hot cup of tea.



Delightful Arabic Foods

And there you have it - a list of incredible, traditional Arabic food you must try. From warming stews to delightful salads, there's something for everyone. If you're in Dubai and want to experience the best of what Arabic cuisine has to offer, Cairo 30 is a must-visit restaurant. Don't hesitate to try these delicious meals if you have the chance!

This website uses cookies. We use cookies to make sure you get the best experience on our website. Please read our privacy and cookie policy.

No, I want more info