If you’d like to try your hand at creating an Emirati dish or two you can generally find all the spices and non perishable ingredients to take back home in Dubai’s supermarkets. However wandering around, searching and haggling for them in the local souks (markets) is much more fun and adds a traditional touch to your shopping experience.
Leave an empty corner in your suitcase for loomi (whole dried lemons), saffron and cinnamon so you can whip up impressive Emirati creations for friends and family upon your return. Other store cupboard essentials include biz’har, a mixture of cumin, fennel, cinnamon, coriander, peppercorns, dried red chillies and turmeric which forms the basis of numerous dishes; sumac, tiny dried red berries with a lemony zing used on salads; and za’atar, wild thyme used to flavour croissants, infused in tea or mixed with cream cheese.
For Emirati recipes, contact the Sheikh Mohammad Centre for Cultural Understanding on 04 3536666. The centre also holds an Emirati breakfast and lunch once a week for visitors to learn more about local culture.