From Hawaiian poke bowls, Chinese Xiao Long Bao to Polish Pierogi: 20 dishes from around the world that are in the UAE

From Hawaiian poke bowls, Chinese Xiao Long Bao to Polish Pierogi: 20 dishes from around the world that are in the UAE

The history and authentic recipes for dishes that have travelled across the globe to UAE

Man eating with chopsticks, Hawaiian poke bowl
Image Credit: Stock image

Did you know that samosas (deep-fried triangular pastries with savoury fillings of sheer goodness), which are thought to be Indian, actually originated in the Middle East? Or that the spicy Indian dish, chicken tikka, with its succulent chunks of chicken, marinated, roasted, and doused in delicious creamy orange curry, was declared as the unofficial national food of the United Kingdom? That happened in 2001, when the then British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook hailed the dish to be a symbol of a modern multicultural Britain, during a speech.

Countries have been exchanging foods for thousands of years—whether along the ancient Silk Road or more recently, on airplanes that transport food items around the world overnight. Throughout history, trade, colonisation, and travel ensured that traditional recipes and cooking ingredients from different corners of the world had travelled across the planet. Many dishes found new identities and adaptations.

So, from the colourful Hawaiian poke bowl that you can find at restaurants in the UAE, to the Polish Pierogi that you can find in the suburbs of New Jersey in the United States, let us look at 20 dishes that went global over time. We decided to dive a bit into their history, origin and found the most authentic ways to prepare them.

1. Baklava

Origin: The origin of this delicacy is quite controversial, but, not very well documented. Many groups such as the Greek, Turkish and the Middle East claim baklava as their own and prepare it in their own way.

How to pronounce it: Buck– lawa (In some Arabic dialects the ck is silent)

Arabic Baklawa
Arabic Baklawa Image Credit: Stock image


Some online resources claim baklava’s origins lie with the Assyrians, who had been preparing it in ancient Assyria, as early as the eighth century BC, by layering unleavened flatbread with chopped nuts in between, drenching it in honey, and then baking it in primitive wood-burning ovens. It is said that ancient Greek seamen and merchants traveling to Mesopotamia soon discovered the delights of baklava.

However, some historians believe that the baklava recipe has its roots in ancient Greece, where they made the ‘gastrin’, a sweet very similar to the current baklava.

Others say that baklava originates from the Byzantine era. According to, Greek professor Speros Vryonis draws similarities with a Greek dessert called kopton. And American journalist, Charles Perry, argues instead that baklava is a culinary fusion of Turkish Central Asian flaky preparations and Iranian fillings made from cooked dried fruits (nuts, hazelnuts, peanuts).

How it has gone global:

Baklava is popular across the Middle East but also in other countries and cultures, where it is prepared with different variations. In Afghanistan and Cyprus, baklava is prepared into triangle-shaped pieces and is lightly covered in crushed pistachio nuts.

In Armenia, baklava is made with cinnamon and cloves. In Azerbaijan, baklava is mostly prepared during the Nowruz or new year festivity. After preparation, the baklava is cut into diamond shapes and each piece is garnished with an almond or a walnut. In Albania, the dough may include egg yolks, and the filling uses walnuts. In Lebanon, baklava is made of phyllo dough sheets filled with nuts (pistachios, walnut, cashews, pine nuts, Almonds) and steeped in “Atir” (ka-tr) syrup made of orange blossom water and rose water, sugar, and water. It is cut into a variety of triangular rectangular, diamond or square shapes.

The city of Tripoli in Lebanon is famous for its baklava products. In Syria, baklava is prepared from phyllo dough sheets, butter, walnuts, and sugar syrup. It is cut into lozenge-sized pieces. Baklava from Aleppo is made with the local pistachios and “samna” from Hama. In Turkey, baklava traditionally is made by filling between the layers of dough with pistachios, walnuts, almonds (parts of the Aegean Region), or a special preparation called kaymak. In the Black Sea Region hazelnuts are commonly used as a filling for baklava.

The city of Gaziantep in southeast Turkey is famous for its pistachio baklava and regarded there as its native city, though it only appears to have been introduced to Gaziantep from Damascus in 1871. In many parts of Turkey, baklava is often topped with kaymak or, in the summer, ice cream (milk cream flavour, called “kaymaklı dondurma”).

Authentic recipe:


For the syrup

  • 2-3 cups sugar and 1 cup honey
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 (3-inch) sticks cinnamon (optional)
  • 4 to 6 whole cloves, or ½ tsp ground cardamom (optional)

For the filling

  • 1 pound blanched almonds, pistachios, walnuts, or any combination, finely chopped or coarsely ground (about 4 cups)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 to 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves or cardamom (optional)
  • 0.45 gm (about 24 sheets) phyllo dough
  • About 1 cup (2 sticks) melted butter or vegetable oil


1. To make the syrup: Stir the sugar, water, lemon juice, cinnamon sticks (optional), and/or cloves (optional), over low heat until the sugar dissolves, for about five minutes. Stop stirring, increase the heat to medium, and cook until the mixture is slightly syrupy (It should take around 5 minutes, if you are using a candy thermometer the temperature will reach 225° F). Discard the cinnamon sticks and whole cloves. Keep the mixture aside to cool.

2. To make the filling: Combine all the filling ingredients.

3. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease a 12x9 inch or 13x9 inch baking pan, or a 15x10 inch jelly roll pan.

4. Place a sheet of phyllo in the prepared pan and lightly brush with butter. Repeat with 7 more sheets. Spread half of the filling evenly over it. Then, top this with 8 more sheets, brushing each layer with butter. If you have any torn sheets of dough, you can use them in the middle layers. Spread the remaining nut mixture and end with a top layer of 8 sheets, continuing to brush each with butter. Trim any overhanging edges.

5. Using a sharp knife, cut 6 equal lengthwise strips (each around 1.8 inches wide) through the top layer of pastry. Make 1.5-inch-wide diagonal cuts across the strips to form diamond shapes.

6. Just before baking, lightly sprinkle the top of the pastry with cold water. This inhibits the pastry from curling. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 300° F and bake until golden brown, about 15 additional minutes.

7. Cut through the scored lines. Drizzle the cooled syrup slowly over the hot baklava and let cool for at least 4 hours. Cover and store at room temperature for up to 1 week. If the baklava dries out while being stored, drizzle with a little additional hot syrup.

Recipe courtesy: Gil Marks, food writer and historian on


Note: If you don’t want to brush each layer of phyllo with butter, you can cut the unbaked baklava into diamonds all the way through, and drizzle with 1 cup of vegetable oil instead, and let stand for 10 minutes before baking.

Iranian Baklava:

Using the almonds and cardamom in the filling: Omit the lemon juice and cinnamon from the syrup and add ¼ cup rose water or 1 tbsp orange blossom water after it has cooled.

Paklava (Azerbaijani Baklava):

For the filling, use 2 cups blanched almonds, 2 cups unsalted pistachios, ¼ cup sugar, 1 tsp ground cardamom, and 1 tsp ground cinnamon. Crush ¼ tsp saffron threads and let steep in 3 tbsp of the melted butter for 15 minutes and use to brush the top sheet of phyllo.

Is it available in the UAE? Yes

2. Xiao Long Bao

Origin: China

How to pronounce it: Shao-long-bao

Xiaolongbao, or literally,
Xiaolongbao, or literally, "little basket bun", is a delicate steamed dumpling filled with steamed meat and soup often thought to have originated in Shanghai. Image Credit: Stock image


Xiao long bao, or literally, "little basket bun", is a delicate steamed dumpling filled with steamed meat and soup often thought to have originated in Shanghai.

According to an article in South China Morning Post, legend has it that its inventor was a man named Huang Mingxian, the owner of a restaurant called Ri Hua Xuan in Nanxiang, a district of Shanghai. In the 1870s, he invented the dumpling by adding aspic (jelly-like filling) to his meat mince. Upon steaming, the aspic would become liquid, thereby filling the dumpling with soup.

He decided to market this delicate creation (the best are supposed to have 14 pleats at the top) under the name of Nanxiang da rou mantou, meaning a large meat-filled bun from Nanxiang. His rationale was that the actual, petite size of the dish that arrived would stun customers, making it memorable.

Customers flocked to his restaurant for the dumplings, but the name didn't stick entirely. People began calling it Nanxiang xiaolongbao - while the geographical detail and the bun (bao) reference stayed, customers rightfully named the dumplings xiao (small), and long (basket) because they were always steamed and served in baskets.

Another story goes that Chinese Emperor Qianlong (1711-1799) tasted the dumplings in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, while travelling through the region. He travelled along the river and so was given the nickname of Youlong, or Swimming Dragon. On his trip, he was given xiao long bao to try as a local speciality, and he apparently raved about them. The xiao long bao of Wuxi thus became famous, and some even say that the long in xiao long bao should be dragon rather than basket (the two words are homonyms) in his honour.

How has it gone global?

As Chinese cuisine spread across the globe, the xiao long bao also became a popular dish. Most authentic Chinese restaurants across the world serve the dish. While meat is usually the standard filling, there are plenty of creative variations to try, seafood options like prawn and crab are popular. There are numerous online training courses promising to teach this process in two to three days. It’s rumored, however, that xiao long bao chefs at the Michelin-starred Din Tai Fung, an international chain of bao restaurants founded in Taiwan, undergo a six-month training period.

Authentic recipe:


For the broth

  • 1.3 kg chicken backs or wings
  • ½ pound beef bacon
  • 6 scallions, whites separated, greens roughly chopped
  • 1-inch knob of ginger
  • 1 tbsp white peppercorns
  • Kosher salt

For the Filling

  • 1/3 pound ground meat
  • ¼ pound raw shrimp, peeled (optional)
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp chicken or beef stock
  • 2 tsp sugar

For the Dough:

  • 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup boiling water

And, Napa cabbage leaves.


1. Combine chicken bones, bacon, scallion whites, half of scallion greens, ginger, and white peppercorns in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, remove to a simmer, and simmer for 2 ½ hours. Strain the broth, season to taste with salt, cover, and refrigerate until set into a semi-firm jelly, at least 8 hours.

2. Meanwhile, combine the meat, shrimp, soy sauce, stock, sugar, 1 tsp salt, and remaining scallion greens in a food processor. Process until a fine paste is formed, about 12 to 15 one-second pulses. Refrigerate until ready to use.

3. Place the flour in the bowl of a food processor. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in water until a cohesive dough is formed (you probably won't need all the water). All dough to ride around processor for 30 seconds. Form into a ball using floured hands and transfer to a bowl. Cover with a damp towel and let rest for at least 30 minutes.

4. When the broth is gelled, transfer filling mixture to a bowl along with 1 cup of jellied broth (save the rest for another use). Beat or whisk it in until homogenous. Keep filling well chilled.

5. Divide dough into 4 sections, and each section into 10 small tbsp-sized balls, making 40 balls total. On a well-floured work surface, roll each ball into a round 3 ½ - to 4-inches in diameter. Stack wrappers and keep them under plastic until all of them are rolled out.

6. To form dumplings, place 1 tbsp of filling in the center of a wrapper. Moisten the edges of the wrapper with a wet fingertip or a pastry brush. Pleat edges of the wrapper repeatedly, pinching the edge closed after each pleat until the entire dumpling is sealed. In a cinched purse shape. Pinch and twist top to seal. Transfer sealed dumplings to a lightly floured wooden or parchment-lined board.

7. Place a bamboo steamer over a wok with 2 inches of water. Place over medium-high heat until simmering. Line steamer with napa cabbage leaves and place dumplings directly on leaves. Steam until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately, being careful not to break them.

(Award-winning Chef J. Kenji López-Alt shared this recipe on

Is it available in the UAE? Most definitely yes!

3. Indian samosa

Origin: The recipe travelled from the Middle East to India

How to pronounce it: Suh-mo-sa

Indian samosas (Food story)
Indian samosas Image Credit: Stock image


While samosa is often thought to be an Indian or Pakistani dish, gastronomic literature of 10th century Middle Eastern cuisine, especially early medieval Iranian texts have many mentions of the sanbosag, an early version of the samosa, and the Iranian pyramidal pastry, samsa.

Other historical accounts also refer to sanbusak, sanbusaq and even sanbusaj as tiny mince-filled triangles, eaten by travelling merchants around campfires and packed in saddlebags as snacks for a long journey. It travelled from Central Asia to North Africa, East Asia and South Asia.

In India, it was introduced by the Middle Eastern chefs who migrated for employment during the Delhi Sultanate rule. The samosa soon became a snack fit for the king.

According to, Ibn Batuta, the medieval Moroccan traveller who visited India in the 14th century, has chronicled the banquets at the court of Muhammad bin Tughlaq. According to his accounts, a dish called sambusak — triangular pastry packed with mince, peas, pistachios, almonds and other tasty fillings — was placed on the guests’ plates right after the sherbet had been sipped. Other courses followed.

How has it gone global? 

India took the recipe and created many variations. Almost every state has a different way of making the samosa. The British who colonised India, took the recipe to the far corners of their colonial empire.

In the Middle East, a semicircular version is stuffed with cheese, onions, herbs, spices and minced meat, and in case of Israeli cuisine, mashed chickpeas and pine nuts. Portugal and Brazil have meat-filled chamuças and pastéis, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have Uyghur-style samosas with a heavier bread dough and a lamb centre.

Authentic recipe


  • 4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cup green peas
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 tsp whole coriander
  • 4 tbsp ghee
  • 4 boiled potato
  • 2 green chilli
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tsp dry mango powder (amchur)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 cup chopped coriander leaves
  • 2 cup refined oil
  • Salt as required


To make the filling:

1. Boil potatoes, peel and mash them.

2. Add whole coriander seeds, boiled peas, cumin powder, amchur, red chilli powder, coriander powder, chopped green coriander and salt to taste and mix together.

To make the pastry dough:

1. Take flour, salt and water, and bind it together.

2. Make small equal-sized portions and roll each into oval shape. Cut the shape into half and flatten.

3. Stuff above filling and seal it to give it a samosa shape.

4. Deep fry on low flame till the samosa becomes golden brown and strain it onto paper/tissue paper to absorb excess oil.

Recipe courtesy: Rupali Gopi Koirala, restaurateur at The Mumbai Gully and Kulfiholic

Is it available in the UAE? Yes

4. Poke bowl

Origin: Hawaii

How to pronounce it: Po-kay

It is believed that the beginnings of poke date back to pre-colonial times in Polynesia
Love poke bowls? It is believed that the beginnings of poke date back to pre-colonial times in Polynesia Image Credit: Supplied: Poke Poke, Dubai


The word ‘poke’ in itself means to slice, or cut crosswise into pieces. While there are no records of the precise history, it is believed that the beginnings of poke date back to pre-colonial times in Polynesia, a grouping of islands from Hawaii to New Zealand. Locals would take their fresh catch and season it with locally available condiments

According to the food historian Rachel Laudan, the present form of poke became popular around the 1970s. It used skinned, deboned, and filleted raw fish served with Hawaiian salt, seaweed, and roasted, ground candlenut meat. This form of poke is still common in the Hawaiian Islands

Poke’s evolution was fairly straightforward: Changes mirrored the tastes of new arrivals. When ships from the West Coast arrived at local ports, sailors traded salmon for salt. Immigrants from China and Japan introduced soy sauce and sesame oil.

How has it gone global?

Poke today is more than ahi limu (seaweed) and spicy ahi poke, but kimchee shrimp, furikake salmon, miso tako (octopus), pipikaula (dried beef) and even bacalao poke made with Portuguese dried salt cod. There are also poke nachos and tacos.

Authentic recipe


According to Matthew Cox, Managing Director at Poke Poke in Dubai: “Traditional poke originates from native Hawaiian fishermen, who would slice up small reef fish and serve them raw, seasoned with things that were readily available, such as sea salt, seaweed, and limu (a type of algae).”

A traditional poke bowl base is usually steamed rice, but these days carb-conscious eaters are opting for lettuce or zoodles (zucchini noodles). Traditionally, poke bowls have few ingredients, because the emphasis should be on the flavor of the fish. However, these days poke bowls are bursting with a variety of colors, textures and even sounds, thanks to social media.

1. As advised by Alana Kysar, a Hawaii native and a cookbook author, to make a poke bowl, first cut the fish into cubes and mix with your desired marinade. Let your fish marinate in in the fridge for at least 15 minutes (The longer it marinates, the more flavor it will have).

2. While the fish marinates, chop up your toppings and start steaming your rice. The right temperature is key in perfecting this dish when it's time to serve it. Aim for ice cold fish served atop a bed of piping hot steamed rice. When the rice is ready, scoop a single serving into a bowl and top with your fish.

3. Additional toppings may added to the base and fish, including fruit, freshly chopped herbs and different types of sauces. In Hawaii, traditional poke bowls also include "inamona," or roasted candlenuts. These can be substitutes with finely chopped macadamia nuts. (In vegetarian poke bowls, edamame, beans or tofu are used. Popular additions also include avocado, pickled ginger, cucumber, mango and other toppings, which are not typical.)

Note: Since the fish is raw, poke bowls should be consumed right away.

Recipe courtesy: Shared by Alana Kysar, a Hawaii native and the author of the cookbook, Aloha Kitchen on

Is it available in the UAE? Yes

5. Turkish Doner Kebab

Origin: Turkey

How to pronounce it: Doh-nuh-Kuh-Bab

A Turkish immigrant called Kadir Nurman is often credited for the ‘creation’ of Doner Kebabs.
A Turkish immigrant called Kadir Nurman is often credited for the ‘creation’ of Doner Kebabs. Image Credit: Stock image


The famous Doner Kebab has truly gone global and is popular in many parts of the world but its origin remains disputed. A Turkish immigrant called Kadir Nurman is often credited for its ‘creation’. Supposedly, he started selling the Turkish Iskender kebab, with salad over flatbread in the 1980’s and the dish was born, or was it? Food history experts have disputed Nurman’s claims of creating the dish with many saying that similar varieties of sandwiches were being sold in the Middle East much before it.

How has it gone global?

Doner Kebabs have become synonymous with the perfect late-night snack for many, especially across Europe. But how did they get there?

According to news site The Daily Telegraph, the first Doner kebab shop in London opened in 1966 and the British have loved the corner shop dish ever since.

In Germany, the Doner kebab was popularised by Turkish guest workers in Berlin in the early 1970s. The dish developed there from its original form into a distinctive style of sandwich with abundant salad, vegetables, and sauces, sold in large portions at affordable prices, that would soon become one of the top-selling fast food and street food dishes in Germany and much of Europe, and popular around the world.

Authentic recipe

While the dish is typically bought from a corner shop and replicating it at home might seem difficult, here’s a recipe that is relatively easy to follow:


  • 500gm lamb mince
  • 1 small onion, coarsely grated
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or finely grated
  • 100gm fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika
  • Sunflower oil for oiling
  • Store-bought pita bread
  • Shredded red or white cabbage
  • Sliced onion
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Pickled chillies
  • Garlic sauce
  • Tahini


1. Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Tip all the ingredients except the oil into a food processor with a large pinch of salt and lots of ground pepper. Pulse until everything is combined and chopped together. You can also just squish everything together in a bowl, but this will give you a looser finish.

2. Oil a large sheet of foil, tip the meat mix in the middle and mould to a very thick sausage, roughly the shape of an aubergine. Roll up the foil tightly, twisting up the ends to create a Christmas cracker shape.

3. Lay on a shallow roasting tin and roast in the oven for 35-40 minutes, turning occasionally, or until a digital cooking thermometer reads 75C when pierced in the middle. Leave the kebab to cool a little, then unwrap the foil. Place back on the tray and brown under the grill or with a blowtorch.

4. Place on a board and carve into thin slices. For full Doner mode, you can hold the kebab up with a roasting fork or metal skewer and carve. Serve with warm pitta bread and any of the other accompaniments, including chilli sauce and garlic yogurt sauce

Is it available in the UAE? Yes, doner kebabs are very commonly found across the UAE.

6. Polish Pierogi

Origin: Polish

How to pronounce it: Pee-Eh-Roh-Gee

Did you know that specific holidays have special types of Pierogi? Christmas Pierogi are filled with sauerkraut, cabbage and mushroom.
Did you know that specific holidays have special types of Pierogi? Christmas Pierogi are filled with sauerkraut, cabbage and mushroom. Image Credit: Stock image


Pierogi is arguably the most popular Polish food. It has been served there since at least the 13th century, but the word first appeared in a cookbook only in the 17th century.

Origins of the dish are unclear but there are a couple of theories out there.

Some believe Marco Polo brought it back from China, others say the Tartars or the Mongols left it behind from their campaigns in Russia.

Whatever the beginning maybe, one thing is for sure – the Polish love their Pierogi. It is served during holidays.

Specific holidays have special types of Pierogi. Christmas Pierogi are filled with sauerkraut, cabbage, and mushroom. This dates to an early Catholic church rule of fasting and abstinence on the day before Christmas, which also meant that one’s meal should be “abstinent” of meat and dairy, hence this “vegan” version of the Pierogi. Wedding Pierogi can have a variety of fillings, but are usually much larger than normal, as befits the occasion, but the most traditional filling is chicken, and the resulting dish has its own name, Kurniki.

There are also sweet varieties of the dish filled with cream and fruits like apricots and bilberries.

How it has gone global

The versatility of these boiled, baked or fried dumplings has to be credited for their popularity. Pierogi can have vegan fillings, vegetarian fillings, a stuffing that can satisfy meat lovers and also those who have a sweet tooth.

The dish is also popular in Ukraine and is called Varenyky amongst Ukrainian speakers. Other countries that have their versions include Slovakia, Slovenia, Russia, Hungary, Germany, Romania and Moldova.

Moving away from Europe, Pierogi are widespread in Canada and the United States, having been popularised by Central and Eastern European immigrants. The dish has gotten so famous that in the US state of Indiana, an annual Pierogi Fest is held. And you guessed it, the festival draws more than 250,000 visitors each year and eating Pierogi is a big part of it.

Authentic recipe

For the dough

  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

For the filling

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • Dash of pepper
  • 450g soft farmer cheese or whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 to 4tbsp butter, divided
  • Sour cream, optional

Is it available in the UAE? Yes, a plate of Pierogi would cost around Dh35.

7. Taiwanese Boba tea

Origin: Taiwan

How to pronounce it: Bo-Ba

Boba tea
Boba tea is a tea-based drink with chewy tapioca balls or a wide range of other toppings Image Credit: Stock image


Boba tea is also known as pearl milk tea, bubble milk tea, or simply as bubble tea. Boba has its roots in 1980s Taiwan and has become a worldwide hit. The drink started out at the Chen Shui Tang tea shop in the city of Taichung, where owner Liu Han-chien sold his high mountain oolong tea. Reports say that he experimented by putting traditional milk tea in a cocktail shaker with ice.

The addition of pearls, or large tapioca balls nicknamed Boba, dates to 1987, when he held a competition among his staff to come up with a creative drink. One of his staff members added tapioca balls and bubble tea was born.

How has it gone global?

The variation of tea spread from Taiwan to different Asian countries and eventually to other parts of the world. In the 2010s, bubble tea got popular in the US, especially amongst the Asian-American community that is based in California.

It soon became a statement for Asian-Americans to drink the tea and family-owned businesses started brewing their own.

Since then, different variations have popped up including a slushy version. Ice-blended versions are frozen and put into a blender, resulting in a slushy-like consistency

And it seems like the visually appealing drink will only grow in popularity. According to, experts said that the bubble tea market was valued at USD 1.89 billion in 2018 (Dh6.94 billion) and it is expected to reach USD 3.49 billion (Dh12.82) by the end of 2026.

Authentic recipe


  • ¼ cup dried boba tapioca pearls per serving (NOT quick-cooking boba)
  • 1 to 2 tea bags per serving, any kind
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 to 2 tea bags per serving, any kind
  • ½ cup water
  • Milk, almond milk, or sweetened condensed milk
  • Fruit juice or nectar (optional)


Combine the boba with water: Measure 2 cups of water for every 1/4 cup of boba being prepared into a saucepan. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the boba and stir gently until they begin floating to the top of the water.

Cook the boba: Turn the heat to medium and cook the boba for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan from heat, cover, and let the pearls sit for another 12 to 15 minutes.

Prepare the sugar syrup for the boba: While the boba gets cooked, make a simple sugar syrup to sweeten and preserve them once cooked. Bring ½ cup of water to a boil over high heat on the stove or in the microwave. Remove from heat and stir in ½ cup sugar until dissolved. Set aside to cool.

Prepare a strong cup of tea: This can be done either while the boba is cooking or ahead of time. Allow enough time for the tea to cool completely before making the boba. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Remove from heat and add the tea bag (or bags); use one tea bag for regular-strength bubble tea or two for a stronger tea flavor. Remove the tea bag after 15 minutes and chill the tea.

Store the boba until ready to assemble: Once the boba lookes cooked, drain them from the water and transfer them to a small bowl or container. Pour the sugar syrup over top until the boba beads get submerged. Let sit until the boba is at room temperature, at least 15 minutes, or refrigerate until ready to use. Boba are best if used within a few hours of cooking, but will keep refrigerated for several days. The boba will gradually harden and become crunchy as they sit.

Make the bubble tea: Pour the prepared tea into a tall glass and add the boba. Add milk for a creamy bubble tea, juice for a fruity tea, or leave plain and add a little extra water. Sweeten to taste with the simple syrup from soaking the boba.

Is it available in the UAE? Yes.

8. Japanese Mochi

Origin: Japan

How to pronounce it: Mow-Chee

Mochi is Japanese rice cake made of mochigome Image Credit: Shutterstock


Mochi ice cream is a fairly recent variation of a dish that has been around since the 18th century.

Mochi is a Japanese rice cake made from glutinous rice. It is ground, steamed, and pounded into a sticky ball. Once filled, Mochi is called Daifuku. Typically, Mochi was stuffed with sweet filling, most commonly anko, sweetened red bean paste made from azuki beans.

In the 1980s, Mochi was first stuffed with ice cream and the popular dessert came into being. A Japanese-American businesswoman named Frances Hashimoto is credited as the inventor of Mochi ice cream. Hashimoto's husband, Joel Friedman, had an idea of taking scoops of ice cream and wrapping them in a Japanese traditional Mochi rice cake coating. Hashimoto expanded on her husband's idea and introduced the fusion dessert in various flavours.

Mochi rice
The rice is pounded into paste and molded into the desired shape to make mochi Image Credit: Stock image

How has it gone global?

The multicoloured ball-like dessert can now be found around the world. The very start of mochi was due to global influences on a traditional Japanese confectionary. The dish first got popularised in the US and then spread around the world. The insta-worthy dessert has been especially popular online.

It comes in traditional Japanese flavours such as Yuzu and Matcha green tea but getting popular around the world means it has various flavours with international influences. It comes in Italian hazelnut spread based Nutella flavour, New York cheesecake flavour is another popular one and cookies and cream.

Authentic recipe

Gulf News spoke to Dubai-based Japanese chef, Takashi Nametaka and he makes Mochi ice cream fresh in his restaurant Tomo.

Serves: Makes 20 pieces


  • 150g white sugar
  • 600ml water
  • 60g glucose (Mizuame)
  • Corn or potato starch for rolling out


1. On medium heat, stir Shiratama Powder (glutinous rice flour), white sugar and water in the small pot.

2. Mix until it is clear. After the mixture is clear, stop the gas and add glucose.

3. After mixing, transfer to a steel bowl and refrigerate to chill.

4. After the mixture is chilled, sprinkle your counter with corn or potato starch. The starch, whether corn or potato, will keep the Mochi from sticking to your counter when you roll it out.

5. Use a rolling pin to spread out the Mochi into a thin sheet and cut it out in circles. Cover with your favourite ice cream flavour.

Recipe courtesy: Dubai-based Japanese chef, Takashi Nametaka

Is it available in the UAE? Yes.

9. Vietnamese Pho

Origin: Vietnam

How to pronounce it: Fuh

Pho is a Vietnamese soup consisting of broth, rice noodles, herbs, and meat, sometimes chicken Image Credit: Stock image


Pho was born in Northern Vietnam during the mid-1880s. The dish was heavily influenced by both Chinese and French cooking. The concepts of rice noodles and spices were imported from China whereas the French popularised the eating of red meat. In fact, it is believed that the name of the dish ‘Pho’ is derived from the name of a French soup called "pot au feu". The French had come to the region after France obtained control over northern Vietnam following its victory over China in the Sino-French War. Vietnamese cooks blended the Chinese, French and native influences to make a dish that is uniquely Vietnamese.

How has it gone global?

The dish came into being through influences from various cultures and it has since only gone even more international.

Gulf News spoke to Dubai-based Vietnamese chef, Lily Hoa Nguyen, and she makes fresh Pho in her restaurant Vietnamese Foodies. Nguyen explained that Vietnamese cusine is getting attention globally because of a few reasons. People shifting towards health-conscious choices for food is a major factor.

“A number of Vietnamese Dishes are cooked with water rather than oil and the majority are naturally gluten- and dairy-free. We also have we have many vegan and vegetarian options for those eating plant-based to choose from,” she said.

Wherever Vietnamese communities have sprouted, eateries offering Pho have opened up. When Vietnamese refugees began immigrating to the US in the 1970s, Pho became extremely popular.

The dish’s French influence also means that you can find it in Vietnamese restaurants in Paris, and in other major cities across Europe.

Authentic recipe


  • 1kg boneless beef shank or chicken drumsticks
  • 3ltr beef/chicken broth (recipe below for broth)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • ½ kg dry rice noodle (rice sticks)
  • 2 tbsp green onions chopped
  • 200g bean sprouts for garnishing
  • Handful Thai basil
  • Handful of sawtooth coriander on the side


1. Boil 3 litres of beef broth.

2. Add 1kg beef shank in the beef broth for 1 hour in medium heat until just cooked but not too soft. Remove the meat and slice it into 3mm thin slices.

3. Roast the spices (cinnamon, coriander seeds) on a cooking pan on high heat for 2 minutes, to bring out the flavor. Put them in a tea bag and place it in the broth. Note: you should do this step just 30 minutes before serving.

4. Finally, season the broth with black pepper, salt and fish sauce.

5. Cook the rice noodle as instructed on the package.

6. Once ready to serve, warm up the noodle then pour boiling broth over it.

7. Garnish with slices of meat, chopped green onions, bean sprouts and serve piping hot with Thai basil on the side.

Recipe courtesy: Dubai-based Vietnamese chef, Lily Hoa Nguyen

Is it available in the UAE? Yes. 

10. Falafel

Origin: Middle East

How to pronounce it: Fuh-la-fl

Falafel is a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both. Image Credit: Stock image


A dish from the Middle East, the falafel, is a staple of Levantine cuisine. It is eaten as a quick snack and can be served with Arabic pita bread, a tahini sauce or salads. Many countries claim ownership of the falafel, as a result, the actual origin of the dish is confusing. Despite the claims, according to an article by UK-based magazine, History Today, the dish might have been developed in Egypt. It appeared in Egyptian literature after the British occupation in the 1880s.

There is speculation that British officers acquired the taste of fried croquettes in India, and asked chefs in Egypt to produce a similar version. In India, the vada and bonda are similarly prepared. Other claims say it emerged in Alexandria, and from there it spread throughout the country. After World War I, the dish reached Lebanon, and in 1933, a falafel shop in Beirut was opened. In the 1960s and 1970s, the dish found its way to the US, through immigration and migrant communities. Now, it is a dish that is not only found all around the world, but brings communities together.

How has it gone global?

Falafel is a popular dish because it not only is easy to eat, it is cost effective and delicious, with its roots in Middle Eastern culture. The most popular way to have the falafel is in the form of a wrap. The falafel wrap, which consists of Falafel cutlets, tabbouleh (Arabic salad), lettuce, tomato, onion, tahini sauce and raddish, is not only filling, it is easy to eat on the go and is a healthy, complete meal. As a wrap, the falafel is not only found in restaurants in the UAE, in the US, it is found kiosks on the street, and is considered street food.

The falafel is crispy on the outside, and has a soft center. Together with the herbs and spices, the dish is flavorful. From Lebanon to Syria to Palestine, the basic recipe of the falafel varies a little from place to place. In Lebanon, the Falafel has an onion and sumac spice filling. In Jordan, the dish has cheese and labneh (Greek yogurt).

Authentic recipe

Danny Akel, Production Manager of Zaroob Group and Mezza House, shared the authentic recipe of the dish, served in their restaurants.


  • 1kg raw chickpeas (soaked)
  • 500g onion
  • 200g parsley
  • 20g salt
  • Falafal spices powder (Lebanese)
  • 150g ice cube
  • 110g of baking soda
  • Olive oil


1. Blend soaked chickpeas, chopped onions and parsley till it becomes like fine dough. Add ice cubes at the end. Keep the mixture in the fridge to rest for two hours.

2. Add 110g of baking soda when the dough is ready to cook. If the dough seems tough, add 100ml of water to soften the texture.

3. Use wet hands to form the mixture into round balls. Falafels can be small, medium and large size, so you can mold them depending on your preference.

4. The balls are then deep-fried, in batches. Put 400ml of oil in a pan, and cook it at 160 degrees for 2.5 to 3 minutes. The balls are turned only two to three times, and are taken off the pan when they turn brown.

5. Falafel is usually served with a runny, white dip called Tahina that has a tangy taste. To make it, add tahini (250g), lemon juice (70g), salt, yoghurt (100g). Add cold water (50-100ml) till it becomes of liquid consistency. It can also be served with turnip pickles.

Recipe courtesy: Danny Akel, Production Manager of Zaroob Group and Mezza House

Is it available in the UAE: Yes. There are many restaurants in the UAE that serve different variations of Falafel.

11. Chai

Origin: India

How to pronounce it: Cha-i

Did you know chai has a history that dates back 1000s of years?


A staple all around India, chai (tea) is a hot beverage that is usually sweetened and is infused with spices like cardamom, ginger and cloves, for flavouring. Masala tea or spiced tea has a history that dates back thousands of years. According to online website, some claim that masala tea was created 5,000 to 9,000 years ago in an ancient royal court. Masala chai was often served as a remedy to cure ailments and was considered a cleansing beverage.

The British set up tea plantations in Assam in 1835, which started the production of Black Tea or Assam tea in India, as they were concerned about the dominance of Chinese tea in the market. Black tea is what most people use in tea recipes today. However, back then, it was costly. Vendors started using milk, sugar and spices to keep the flavour of the brew. In India, masala chai grew in poularity by the 1960s when mass production of tea began, thus lowering the cost. Chai is now a beverage that is found all around the world, with different recipes.

How has it gone global?

Chai has gone global, with people all around the world including it in their diet. Why? Some online reports say it is because of its rich flavour, others say it is because of its cleansing properties. The spices infused in the concoction are derived from Ayurvedic texts.

There are different variations of chai found in the West. People use non-traditional ingredients like vanilla and chocolate to change the flavour of the masala chai. The chai tea lattes have become popular, that can be consumed hot or cold.

In India, masala chai is usually made with black tea. In Kashmir, gunpowder green tea is used. Tea is usually served in an earthen clay pot as it adds to the flavour of the drink.

Authentic recipe

The Satwa Falcon cafeteria, located along Shaikh Zayed Road (SZR), serves on average of 2,500 cups of masala Indian chai daily. Store manager Abdl Salam told Gulf News that people prefer having tea all year round because it is a refreshing beverage. He shared his recipe for the perfect cup of masala chai.


  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 cinnamon stick or ½ tsp of cinnamon powder
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • ¼ tsp of ground ginger
  • ½ cup of milk (fresh or rainbow)
  • 1 ½ tbsp of sugar
  • 3 tbsp of Assam tea (Black tea)


1. Take a utensil and pour water it. Add 3 tbsp of the black tea and the 1½ tbsp of sugar and let it boil for 30 minutes.

2. Add the cinnamon stick, ground ginger and cardamom pods into the boiling water. You can even bled the ingredients together and add them to the boiling water in their powdered form.

3. Let the tea boil for one to two minutes. If you want the tea to taste stronger, you boil it for slightly longer.

4. Strain the tea before putting it in a mug. Add two spoons of riainbow milk or fresh milk as per preference.

Recipe courtesy: Abdl Salam, manager at Satwa Falcon cafeteria, Dubai.

Is it available in the UAE: Yes

12. Chicken Tikka

Origin: India

How to pronounce it: Chicken Tee-kuh

Chicken tikka
Traditionally, chicken tikka is baked in a oven called a tandoor, to give it a smokey flavour Image Credit: Stock image


Chicken tikka is a chicken dish that originated in the Mughal Empire on the Indian subcontinent. The dish is popular in India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Not to be confused with chicken tikka masala, chicken tikka is a star attraction in Indian cusine. It's a fully qualified dish in itself, and is also used as an ingredient in other curry dishes like the chicken tikka masala.

The word “tikka” refers to the way the chicken is prepared in boneless chunks or cutlets. Typically, the meat is boneless, skewered, and cooked in a tandoor, or clay oven. The advantage of making the dish in a tandoor, is that it maintains the high temperature for the chicken to cook perfectly. The tandoor also adds a smoky flavour to the dish.

Spices are an important part of cooking chicken tikka. It includes spices such as cayenne, turmeric, cumin, coriander, garlic, chili, curry, lemon, salt, and a mix of spices called garam masala, among other things.

How has it gone global?

Chicken tikka is a popular dish that is available all around the world and can be eaten as an appetizer or even as a part of the main course, with roti (Indian flat bread). Chicken tikka rolls wherein the chicken is rolled with onions and mint chutney (coriander dip) in a roti, is another way the dish is eaten.

Authentic recipe

Executive Chef of Copper Chimney Dubai, Bhavani Rodhiyal, shared his recipe of authentic chicken tikka with Gulf News.


  • 150gm boneless chicken
  • 1tsp garlic paste
  • 1tsp ginger paste
  • 1tsp red chili paste
  • 1tsp coriander powder
  • 1tsp cumin powder
  • 1tsp turmeric
  • 1tsp garam masala
  • Salt (depending on taste)
  • 50 to 100 g of yogurt
  • 50gm cream


1. Take the boneless piece of chicken and cut it into cubes. Marinate it with ginger, garlic and chili paste.

2. To make the paste, blend the garlic with water, and do the same for the ginger. To make the red chili paste, boil the chilies and then blend it. You can less chili if you don’t like your food to be too spicy.

3. Add the yogurt, coriander and turmeric powder to the chicken. Marinate it for at least two hours or overnight.

4. Grill the chicken and take it off the grill once the colour is a golden brown.

Recipe courtesy: Bhavani Rodhiyal, Executive Chef of Copper Chimney, Dubai

Is it available in the UAE: Yes

13. Poutine

Origin: Quebec, Canada

How to pronounce it: Pu-tin (Québécois) or poo-teen (English)

Poutine is a dish of french fries and cheese curds topped with a brown gravy Image Credit: Shutterstock


Poutine is considered Canada’s national dish and is of French-Canadian origin. It is both sweet and savoury and consists of mainly three ingredients: French fries, cheese curds (moist pieces of curdled milk) and gravy.

According to US-based magazine Mental Floss, the dish was created in the 1950s in Quebec, Canada. As the story goes, a customer asked restaurateur Fernand Lanchance to throw cheese curds and French fries in a bag as he was in a hurry. Both items were sold separately at the restaurant (The Laughing Elf). When Lachance looked into the bag after the two items had been mixed, he called it ‘poutine’ the Quebec slang for ‘mess’ and this is how the dish famously came into being. The ingredient of gravy was added in 1964 when a nearby restaurant owner, Jean-Paul Roy, noticed that some of his customers were ordering a side of cheese curds to add to gravy sauce and fries dish, at his restaurant. The owner decided to add the three-ingredient item on the menu and the dish not only became popular in Canada, it made its way to the US. The addition of hot gravy was made to keep the dish warm.

How has it gone global

According to the magazine article, McDonald’s and Burger King in Canada, also sell the dish as a side. The junk food favourite is now popular worldwide and is easily available in many restaurants in the US. Different combinations can be added to the fries and gravy recipe. In the US, an altered dish known as ‘Disco Fries’ uses mozzarella cheese in substitute of the curds. The gravy could be mushroom, beef or chicken. Some poutine dishes add sausage, chicken, bacon or brisket with the gravy. Some recipes use sweet potato fries, not regular potato.

Authentic recipe

According to a recipe in the Food Network Magazine by Chuck Hughes, the dish takes 10 minutes to prepare and 40 minutes to make.


  • 6 to 8 large gold potatoes, peeled
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil, plus more for frying
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp whole green peppercorns
  • ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese curds


1. The potatoes are cut lengthwise into thick slices and are placed in a bowl of cold water and are kept for an hour to 24 hours, to ensure the fries are crispy.

2. For the gravy, heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and saute for 3 minutes. Add the chicken and beef stock, ketchup, vinegar, peppercorns and Worcestershire sauce and bring to a boil.

3. In a separate saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the flour and make a roux, stirring until slightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk the stock mixture into the roux and simmer until reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Season the gravy with salt and pepper and keep warm.

4. Line a baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels. Heat 2 to 3 inches vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees F (or use a deep fryer).

5. Fry the potatoes in small batches until whitish-yellow, about 8 minutes. Remove with a strainer and drain on the paper towels. Bring the oil temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit over high heat.

6. Fry the potatoes in batches again until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain on fresh paper towels. Salt and pepper the fries while hot. Strain the gravy.

Recipe courtesy: Chef Chuck Hughes on

Is it available in the UAE: Yes. In the UAE, Big Smoke Burger serves poutine, which is topped with sautéed mushrooms and their homemade rosemary-garlic-mayo.

14. Shawarma

Origin: Middle East

How to pronounce it: Sha-wer-mah

Shawarma is a dish in Middle Eastern cuisine consisting of meat cut into thin slices, stacked in a cone-like shape, and roasted on a slowly-turning vertical rotisserie Image Credit: Stock image


The Shawarma is a Levantine Arab meat dish of lamb, chicken, turkey or beef that is mixed with garlic paste, pickle and served as a wrap or on a plate. While the exact history of the dish is unknown, according to online reports, the Shawarma was invented in the 18th or 19th century, in Turkey. How did it get its name? In turkey, doner kebab (a similar dish to Shawarma) was called ‘rotating grilled meat’. The word Shawarma is an Arabic term for the word ‘turning’.

The meat is usually placed on a roasting spit, which is commonly seen in restaurants. The shavings are cut off the block of meat and heated. It is a popular item in Middle Eastern cuisine and is usually eaten with a variety of Arabic salads and hummus (a mashed chickpeas dip) or garlic spread.

Sharwama is a popular street food worldwide and while different meats can be used to make the wrap, the chicken shawarma has risen to popularity. A typical shawarma platter is served with salad, French fries and pickles.

How has it gone global?

The Shawarma, also known as a shawarma sandwich, is a kind of Arabic street food that has gone global, and is associated with the Middle Eastern culture. A reason for its popularity is because the dish is flavourful, easy to make, relatively healthy and easy to eat on the go.

Corporate Executive Chef of Al Safadi group, Omar Harbaly, told Gulf News that the recipe varies depending on the country where it is made. Some places add more vinegar and lemon while margination, others use different spices. He gave us the recipe of an authentic chicken shawarma sandwhich.

Authentic recipe


  • 1kg boneless chicken (with skin)
  • 100g slices of lemon
  • 80g slice of orange
  • 20g white vinegar
  • 5g fresh garlic mashed
  • 10g salt
  • 1g black pepper
  • 2g paprika
  • 1 potato
  • 30g of garlic spread
  • 10g pickles


1. To marinate the dish, boneless chicken is taken and cut lengthwise. Fresh garlic paste is made and mixed with salt, paprika, pepper, salt, vinegar. Orange and lemon slices are added with the chicken for flavour. You should marinate it for three to four hours (to ensure absorption of ingredients).

2. When made in the restaurant, the chicken is cooked on skewers. However, at home, people can use a pan and cook it for 180 degrees for at least 20 to 22 minutes.

3. When the chicken is golden brown, it can be taken off the pan.

4. The shawarma is wrapped in Arabic pita bread, with garlic paste spread and french-fries.

5. To make the garlic paste spread, one needs fresh garlic (50 grams), cold sunflower oil (350 grams), lemon juice (35 gram) and salt (5 grams). The ingredients are put in a blender (except the oil) and once all the ingredients have been mixed into a fine paste, the cold oil is added from the top. It should have a mayonnaise-like texture.

6. 30 grams of the garlic paste is spread over Arabic pita bread. The chicken pieces are added, along with pickles and french-fries. It is then rolled to become a sandwich.

Recipe courtesy: Omar Harbaly, Corporate Executive Chef of Al Safadi group, UAE

Is it available in the UAE: Yes, eveywhere!

15. Boodle fight

Origin: Philippines

How to pronounce it: Boo-dl fight

A boodle fight is an all-you-can-eat Filipino finger-food feast. Image Credit: Shutterstock

History: A boodle fight is an all-you-can-eat Filipino finger-food feast. It is inspired by military practice of eating a big meal in haste. The “fight” in the name refers to the act of grabbing and eating as much as the soldiers can before others grab them before they run out of food.

Be warned, this is customarily served to very hungry people, so if you are slow, you might run out of food and if you are on diet, then Boodle fight is not for you. But it’s ok to have a cheat meal once in a while.

It is a long-standing Filipino tradition, which originated at the Philippine Military Academy where soldiers and their commanding officers eat together as a symbol of camaraderie, brotherhood and equality. When the official or host signals to start the boodle fight, everybody has to be in their position and is ready to eat. Boodle in American “army slang” meant treats such as candy, cake and ice cream.

How has it gone global?

It is a celebration, this is a kind of Filipino feast that is meant for sharing all the food. Filipinos shared this tradition with their friends abroad, and it became so popular that restaurants introduced Boodle Fight as a dish on their menus. Diners practice kamayan (eating with the hands) strictly no spoons, no forks and no chopsticks. You have to use your bare hands for an “eating combat”, but most people wear disposable plastic hand gloves for hygiene purposes, especially when eating in the restaurants.

Boodle fight is a big pile of food placed on top of banana leaves on a very long table. Usually, these are grilled fish like milkfish, and fried dried fish like tuyo (dried sardines) and danggit (rabbitfish or spinefoot fish), grilled chicken or chicken adobo, barbecued meat, buttered shrimps and crabs and stuffed squid, vegetables such as eggplant, okra, grilled or boiled corn, atchara and salted eggs or any meat that you would like to eat; and of course plain rice or garlic rice will always be there in the middle of it all.

And the best sauce combination are soy, vinegar, garlic, calamansi/lemon and chilies, or just simply dip in sautéed shrimp paste that will surely increase your appetite. For dessert, something sweet, rice cakes, fruits like mangoes and watermelons.

Paluto Restaurant a seafood hideaway at the Waterfront Market in Deira, Dubai, shared their methods on how to prepare the sumptuous Filipino Boodle Fight. Paluto! in tagalog means “to cook” where customers can choose a wide-array of fresh seafoods available in the market and then restaurant cooks it for them.

Since there is a lot of ingredients and dishes required to make this Boodle Fight, the Paluto has an army of Filipino chefs stationed specially for each dish, to be able to prepare this big meal.


  • Plain Rice, java rice or garlic rice
  • Grilled Bangus (Milkfish), fried Tilapia or dried Sardines
  • Buttered shrimps
  • Chicken adobo
  • Squid adobo
  • Pork barbecue
  • Lumpiang Shanghai
  • Egg Omelet
  • Salted Eggs
  • Vegetables like eggplant, okra, spinach, tomatoes, kang kong
  • Mangoes, watermelons, pineapples


Chef Symon Dalumpines shared this:

1. Sweet and Sour Hamour fish: Fish will be coated with flour and seasoning, deep-fried for 20 minutes, rest for 5 minutes and tossed with Sweet and Sour Sauce. Topped with stir-fried carrots, capsicums, bell peppers, and pineapples.

2. Lobster, Prawns and Crabs in Lemon Herb Sauce: Lobster, prawns and crabs are washed and blanched for 5-7 minutes (depending on size), rest for 3 minutes and tossed in high-pressure wok with Best Seller Sauce, Lemon and Herbs Sauce (similar to cajun sauce). Add corn on top.

Chef Marvin Villaluz shared this:

3. Calamare: Slice the squid thinly (1/2 inch), coat with calamari batter (flour, seasoning, bread crumbs) and deep fry for at least 3 minutes. Rest for another 2 miniutes, deep fry again for 2 minutes. Rest and served with sweet spicy vinegar and tartar sauce.

Chef Diomel Cabahug shared this:

4. Ginger Soup Mussels/Clams: Mussels/clams are sauteed in ginger, lemon grass, garlic, onion and tomatoes. Rice water is used for the soup base, boil for 5 minutes until the aroma comes out. Add salt, pepper and seasoning for taste. Add chilis, scallions and served hot.

Chef Johnny Cabahug shared this:

5. Grill Salmon Wash salmon and pat dry, season with lemon zest, ground pepper and salt. Grill for 5 minutes and topped with special seafood grill sauce.

Chef Kenneth Sta Maria shared this:

6. Stuffed Squid Wash the squid, removed skin and innards, season with salt and pepper. Stuff with sliced onion, tomatoes, scallions and ginger. Marinate with oyster sauce, fish sauce, lemon for at least 10 minutes. Grill for 5 minutes, and serve with lemon soy sauce.

7. Serve with seasonal fruits like Mango and watermelons

8. Be ready with your bare hands or with gloves to eat Boodle Fight!

Recipe courtesy: Chefs at Paluto Restaurant, Dubai

Is it available in the UAE: Yes, some Filipino restaurants offer Boodle Fight on their menus.

16. Kimchi

Origin: Korea

How to pronounce it: Kim.chee

Food kimchi
Kimchi is a unique and traditional fermented ethnic food of Korea Image Credit: Shutterstock

History: Kimchi is a national dish of both North and South Korea. Kimchi is a unique and traditional fermented ethnic food of Korea, which consists of vegetables such as Chinese cabbage fermented with lactic acid bacteria. The history of kimchi goes back to ancient times. Originated from pickled vegetables, there are now hundreds of kimchi varieties in Korea. Kimchi has been a staple in Korean culture, but historical versions were not a spicy dish.

The pickling of vegetables was an ideal method, prior to refrigerators that helped to preserve the lifespan of foods. In Korea, kimchi was made during the winter by fermenting vegetables, and burying them in the ground in traditional brown ceramic pots called onggi. It was the primary way of storing vegetables throughout the seasons. In summer the in-ground storage kept the kimchi cool enough to slow down the fermentation process. Nowadays, refrigerators are more commonly used to store kimchi.

How has it gone global?

Korean kimchi has gained global recognition as a healthy probiotic food. Kimchi is a good source of useful lactic acid bacteria, has excellent anti-oxidation and anti-cancer effects, and apparently helps prevent ageing.

There are hundreds of varieties of kimchi made with different vegetables as the main ingredients such as cabbage and radish. So many Korean dishes are made with well-fermented Kimchi such as kimchi jjigae, kimchi mandu, kimchi bibim guksu, kimchi fried rice, kimchijeon, tofu kimchi, and many more.

Korean restaurants around the world are serving Kimchi – especially the famous traditional side dish of salted and fermented vegetables such as napa cabbage and Korean radish. It is made with different seasonings including chili powder, spring onions, garlic, ginger and salted seafood. Kimchi can be also added to soups, noodles, and rice toppings because of its bold taste. It is very popular as a condiment for fried fish, mix with other vegetables, fried rice and pizza topping.


900gms or 2 lbs. Napa cabbage

7 tbsp coarse sea salt

6 to 8 pints of cold water

1 medium Daikon radish julienne

4 tbsp minced fresh ginger

4 tbsp minced garlic

1 bunch scallions cut into 1 inch length pieces (discard lower end)

Spices and Seasoning:

5 tbsp Gochugaru Korean red pepper flakes powder

1/4 cup fish sauce

1 tbsp shrimp paste bagoong alamang

2 tsp granulated white sugar


1. Cut the lower end of the cabbage and then discard. Slice the cabbage into small squares (1.5 x 1.5 inch) by starting to slice the cabbage in half lengthwise and then continue by slicing crosswise until the desired shape and size is achieved.

2. Place the chopped cabbage in a colander or a wide wire mesh. Wash with running water until clean.

3. Arrange the cabbage in a large mixing bowl. Add salt. Gently mash salt all over the cabbage using your hands. Pour cold water until the cabbage is fully submerged. Cover the bowl with a clear plastic wrap. Let the cabbage soak for 18 to 24 hours.

4. Discard the water and place the cabbage back on the colander or wire mesh. Wash with running water. Let all the liquid drip off. Set aside.

5. Combine cabbage, scallions, ginger, garlic, Daikon radish in a large mixing bowl. Toss.

6. Add all the spices and seasoning ingredients (see recipe above). Toss once more until all the ingredients are well blended.

7. Arrange in a large mason jar or Kimchi container. Cover the container tightly and place in a dark spot in room temperature for 20 to 28 hours. Note: The ingredients are starting to ferment at this point.

8. Let the air escape from the container by opening it. Seal it once more and place inside the refrigerator to chill for 3 days.

9. Serve as a side dish with your favorite food, or use it as an ingredient to make other dishes such as Kimchi fried rice.

10. Share and enjoy!

Recipe courtesy: This home-made recipe by Chef Vanjo Merano is available on

Is it available in the UAE? Yes, almost all Korean, Chinese and some Filipino restaurants offer Kimchi as a side dish or appetiser.

17. Indian Vindaloo

Origin: India - Goa

How to pronounce it: Vind-a-loo

UAE-based chef Lendl Pereira from Goa explained that though vindaloo is considered to be Goan cuisine, it actually comes from a popular Portuguese dish.
UAE-based chef Lendl Pereira from Goa explained that though vindaloo is considered to be Goan cuisine, it actually comes from a popular Portuguese dish. Image Credit: Stock image


According to UAE-based chef Lendl Pereira from Goa: “Though vindaloo is considered to be Goan cuisine, it actually comes from a popular Portuguese dish carne de vinha d'alhos (meat marinated in vinegar and garlic), which was brought to Goa, in the 15th century by the Portuguese.”

Goa was under Portuguese colonial rule between the years 1510 and 1961.

The Chef de cuisine at a restaurant in Waldorf Astoria, Ras Al Khaimah, added: “Since we Indians like our food slightly spicy, we started changing the dish to suit the local taste.” Local ingredients like tamarind, black pepper, cinnamon, and cardamom were incorporated. But the most important addition—chilli peppers imported by the Portuguese to India from the Americas.

How has it gone global?

In early British India cookbooks, vindaloo recipes remained close to the Goan original. But the dish gradually met the same fate as many Indian dishes when it was exported to England and other places: It became a hot curry. The tang of vinegar disappeared along with the practice of marinating the meat, and the flavours of various spices were lost with excess use of chillies. In Goa, many versions continue to include cinnamon and cardamom, and the meat is slowly cooked to perfection.

Authentic recipe: Chef Lendl shared his grandmother’s recipe:


  • 2 Kgs meat
  • 25 pieces of dried Kashmiri chillies
  • 15 Betki chillies (a type of dried red chilli, slimmer than Kashmiri chillies
  • 2 ½ full pod of garlic
  • 1 ½ inch piece of ginger
  • 1 tsp of cumin
  • 1 tsp of turmeric
  • A little sugar (to taste)


1) Grind all the spices in slightly warm water, some vinegar and some tamarind (optional) into very fine paste.

2) Cut the meat into small to medium pieces and marinate with the paste.

3) Set aside for six hours

4) Pressure cook for 20 minutes or cook in a closed lid pot on low flame till meat is done.

Recipe courtesy: UAE-based chef Lendl Pereira

Is it available in the UAE? Yes

18. Mongolian barbecue

Origin: Taiwan

How to pronounce it: Mong·gow·lee·uhn Bar.bee.Q

Food Mongolian BBQ
Mongolian barbecue is a stir fried dish Image Credit: Shutterstock


Mongolian barbecue is a stir-fried dish that was developed by the Taiwanese comedian and restaurateur Wu Zhaonan in 1951. A native of Beijing, Zhaonan fled to Taiwan because of the Chinese Civil War, and opened a street food stall in Yingqiao, Taipei in 1951. He originally wanted to call the dish "Beijing barbecue", but because of political sensitivity with the city, which had been designated as the capital of Communist China, he settled with "Mongolian barbecue" instead, with no direct connection to Mongolia.

The preparation of Mongolian barbecue is actually derived from Japanese-style teppanyaki, which was popular in Taiwan at the time. There are many variations of Mongolian barbecue but the roasted lamb is more popular. Roasted lamb is the traditional Mongolian delicacy, which is prepared in honour of special guests or for special occasions like weddings and birthdays. The local food of Mongolia is a blend of Mongolian and Chinese tastes, while there is the influence of Muslim cuisine and wide use of lamb in their dishes.

How has it gone global?

Based on history, Zhaonan's food stall became very popular even among foreigners and elitists despite being a cheap eatery. However, it was later destroyed by flooding caused by a typhoon, in which Zhaonan nearly drowned. Numerous imitators emerged to capitalise on the popularity of the dish he created, with restaurants such as Genghis Khan, Tang Palace, Great Khan, and Heavenly Khan among the oldest and most popular. It was later successfully introduced to the West. Many Mongolian barbecue restaurants in the US follow an all-you-can-eat buffet format, and allow multiple visits to the grill. In Japan, a similar dish to Mongolian barbecue called Jingisukan ("Genghis Khan") is prepared with mutton and cooked on a convex metal skillet.

How to prepare, usually diners select a variety of raw ingredients from the counter - a range of thinly sliced meats such as beef, pork, lamb, turkey, chicken and shrimp; there are also vegetables such as cabbage, tofu, onion, broccoli, and mushrooms. The bowl of ingredients is handed to the chef who adds the diner's choice of sauce, then transfers them to the grill and serve them on a bowl fully loaded with Mongolian barbecue toppings. Some restaurants nowadays have tabletop electric grills, which diners can use to cook Mongolian barbecue on their own way.


  • 250 gm beef tenderloin steaks, thinly sliced
  • 250 gm shoulder chops, thinly sliced
  • 250 gm deboned chicken thighs, thinly sliced
  • 1 large cabbage, chopped into strips
  • 1 large white onion, sliced
  • 1 stalk leeks, chopped into strips
  • 2 large carrots, chopped into strips
  • 1 cup peanuts, pounded
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup oyster sauce
  • oil


1. Prepare a very hot griddle and grease it with a small amount of oil. Now place all meat ingredients, garlic and ginger then quickly mix together to avoid burning.

2. Once meat is brown in colour, add the remaining ingredients, continuously mix together until cooked.

3. Serve while hot with rice.

Recipe courtesy: Chef Raymund shared this recipe on

Is it available in the UAE? Yes, Korean, Chinese and Filipino restaurants serve Mongolian Barbecue.

19. Paella

Origin: Spain

How to pronounce it:

Food Paella
Paella is a Spanish rice dish originally from Valencia, Spain Image Credit: Shutterstock


Paella is a Spanish rice dish originally from Valencia, Spain. It is believed that the original recipe for Valencian paella consists of white round grain rice, green beans (bajoqueta and tavella), meat such as chicken or rabbit, sometimes duck or snails, and garrofó (a variety of lima beans or butterbeans). Olive oil is used as a base, and saffron and sometimes whole rosemary branches are used as seasoning.

Paella is one of the best known dishes in Spanish cuisine. For this reason, it may be seen internationally as Spain's national dish, but most Spaniards consider it to be a dish from the Valencian region.

Paella takes its name from the wide, shallow traditional pan used to cook the dish on an open fire. Paella means "frying pan" in Valencian, Valencia's regional language.

As a dish, it may have ancient roots, but in its modern form it is traced back to the mid-19th century, in the rural area around the Albufera lagoon adjacent to the city of Valencia, on the east coast of Spain.

How has it gone global? 

There are many variations of paella, as influenced by different cultures worldwide. Paella de marisco (seafood paella) replaces meat with seafood and omits beans and green vegetables, while Mixed Paella combines meat from livestock, seafood, vegetables, and sometimes beans, with the traditional rice.

On the Mediterranean coast, Valencians used seafood instead of meat and beans to make paella. Valencians regard this recipe as authentic, as well. Spaniards living outside of Valencia combined seafood with meat and Mixed paella was born. This paella is sometimes called preparación barroca (baroque preparation) due to the variety of ingredients and its final presentation. The most globally popular recipe is seafood paella.

Some restaurants in Spain and abroad usually serve the mixed version called Paella valenciana. In Latin America and the Philippines, the adaptation of meat paella is called Arroz a la valenciana. Arroz means rice. Filipinos use glutinous rice, annatto instead of saffron, and turmeric or safflower. Some people enjoy garnishing their served plate with freshly squeezed lemon.


  • 1.3kg whole chicken, cut into serving parts
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 140g beef chorizo, sliced thickly
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 4 cups long grain rice
  • 1 tsp saffron threads
  • 6 cups warm water
  • 500g large shrimp, tendrils trimmed
  • 1 dozen mussels, or littleneck clams, scrubbed and bearded


1. In a bowl, combine chicken, sweet paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Rub onto the chicken and marinate in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

2. In a paella pan or wide skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add chorizo and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pan and set aside.

3. In the pan, add chicken pieces and cook, turning as needed, until lightly browned. Remove from pan and set aside.

4. Add more olive to the pan, if needed. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring regularly, for about 2 to 3 minutes or until softened.

5. Add tomato sauce and cook until slightly reduced.

6. Add rice and stir quickly to fully coat with sauce.

7. Add water and bring to a boil.

8. Add chicken, chorizo and saffron. Add shrimps and mussels, tucking into the rice.

9. Cover pan, lower heat and simmer, without stirring, for about 15 to 20 minutes or until rice is fluffy and cooked through.

10. Increase heat to high and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes or until a toasted rice crust (socarrat) forms at the bottom. Serve hot.

Recipe courtesy: US-based Filipina Lalaine Manalo, creator of the popular blog Kawaling Pinoy.

Is it available in the UAE?: Yes, it is available in many restaurants, mostly seafood outlets in the UAE.

20. Adobo

Origin: The Philippines

Food Adobo
Philippine adobo (from Spanish adobar, which means to marinate) is basically the national dish of the Philippines. Image Credit: Shutterstock

How to pronounce it: uh-dow-bow


Adobo is a popular Filipino main dish. Philippine adobo (from Spanish adobar, which means to marinate) is basically the national dish of the Philippines. Philippine adobo refers to a whole dish, while the base of Mexican adobo uses the traditional Spanish spices but adds indigenous ingredients to the mix: tomatoes, chilies, garlic taste with a bit of turmeric, oregano and sometimes cumin. Thus, Mexican adobo is a fusion of indigenous and colonial influences.

The word adobo was originally used to refer to the preservation of meat through pickling and adding of marinating sauces that were made of olives, vinegar and spices in Spain. In Mexico, they use crushed chilies, spices and vinegar to make a marinade and sauce that is red, thick and spicy. The Spanish also applied the term adobo to any native dish that was marinated before consumption.

Philippine adobo is an indigenous dish that received a Spanish name because it reminded the Spaniards, of how they marinated and preserved meat with spices when they colonised the Philippines in the 15th century. They are not the same, but they are similar because each culture needed to preserve and flavor food - with the primary use of vinegar and garlic - so it wouldn’t rot.

While the Philippine adobo can be considered adobo in the Spanish sense—a marinated dish—the Philippine usage is much more specific to a cooking process (rather than a specific recipe) and is not restricted to meat. Philippine adobo is salty and sour, and often sweet to taste, in contrast to Spanish and Mexican adobos, which are spicier or infused with oregano.

How has it gone global? 

Almost all Filipino restaurants in the UAE and the world-over, serve chicken adobo to cater to Filipino expatriates, Mexicans and other nationalities.

Based on the main ingredients, the most common adobo dishes are chicken adobo and pork adobo. Some people prefer chicken liver and gizzard adobo. Other meat sources came from beef adobo, goat adobo, quail adobo and duck adobo. There are also seafood variants, which can include shrimp, fish, catfish and squid or cuttlefish.

There is also adobo variants for vegetarians. Philippine adobo can be used to cook vegetables such as water spinach, bamboo shoots, eggplant, banana flowers and okra. A rarer version without soy sauce is known as "white adobo", which uses salt instead, to contrast it with “black adobo", the more prevalent versions are with soy sauce or oyster sauce nowadays. White adobo is often regarded as the closest to the original version of the Pre-Hispanic adobo.


  • 2 lbs chicken cut into serving pieces
  • 3 pieces dried bay leaves
  • 8 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp white vinegar
  • 5 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 8 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt (optional)
  • 1 tsp whole peppercorn


Marination: Combine chicken, soy sauce, and garlic in a large bowl. Mix well and set aside. Marinate the chicken for at least 1 hour. The longer the marination time, the better.

1. Heat a cooking pot. Pour cooking oil.

2. When the oil is hot enough, pan-fry the marinated chicken for 2 minutes per side.

3. Pour-in the remaining marinade, including garlic. Add water. Bring to a boil

4. Add dried bay leaves and whole peppercorn. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the chicken gets tender

5. Add vinegar. Stir and cook for 10 minutes.

6. Put-in the sugar, and salt. Stir and turn the heat off. Serve hot. Share and Enjoy!

Recipe courtesy: Chef Vanjo Merano shared this recipe on

Is it available in the UAE?: Yes, Filipino restaurants in the UAE usually include chicken adobo on their menu.

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