There’s various crowd-pleasers that make up the Middle East’s cuisine, and Global Village’s cultural pavilions offer up a great way to try them all under one roof. Whether you’re new to the cuisine or can never get enough of it, here are five dishes to seek out for a taste of the Middle East, from Egypt to Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and the UAE.
1. Egypt: Koshary
Price: Dh35 for a bowl
This traditional street food is known by everyone in Egypt – and liked by everyone. An unusual combo of pasta, rice, chickpeas, lentils, tomato sauce, fried onion, garlic and lemon sauce and drenched in spicy shatta sauce, it’s the ultimate carb-filled comfort food. Commonly considered Egypt’s national dish, it’s had at meal times ranging from lunch to dinner or anytime in between. At Global Village, Crepe & Kochary Square adds a whole depth of flavour in. Besides the original, they do three versions – one with chicken shawarma, one with beef shawarma and another spicy one with eskamdrani liver (Alexandrian-style stir-fried liver), topped with chilli powder and flakes.
2. UAE: Ragag
Price: Dh15 for cheese and egg/Nutella
It might be wafer thin, but it delivers some big tastes. This traditional Emirati homemade bread features high on popularity lists for breakfast. Crispy in texture, at Global Village’s Emirati Traditional Kitchen it’s made in the span of a few minutes: A batter of flour and water and salt is added to a hot pan, an egg is cracked on top, and cheese cubes are added along with it. This is topped with meshawa (fish sauce) and some fat, and the resulting golden-coloured ragag is folded into pieces and handed over to you - all hot and melty.
Want a sweet version? You can get your egg and cheese replaced with Nutella.
3. Turkey: Doner sandwich shawarma
Sizzling meat and bread are a winner dinner any day, and this fast-food dish similar to the Arabic shawarma (or tacos al pastor in Mexico) is another meaty street food delight, this time from Turkey. Juicy, caramelised, thinly sliced chicken is added to pita or saj bread, mixed in with vegetables and pickles, and topped with Turkish tahini. At Doner Turkish Shawarma, it’s topped with dynamite sauce and served with fries. It’s a whole meal in a sandwich; a simple dish by concept, but as flavourful as it gets.
4. Syria: Mushabak
Want a sweet treat after all that savoury deliciousness? Crunchy on the outside, soft and syrupy on the inside, this classic Middle Eastern dessert is an addictive find. Made with semolina and yoghurt, fried to a golden brown and soaked in syrup, these swirly shapes are perfect to satiate all the sugar cravings that hit after your FitBit’s counted over 10,000 steps at Global Village. Diyafah Shamia at Stall 48
5. Lebanon: Manakish
Almost like a personal pan pizza, the manakish is the perfect treat at all times, and whether you’re plumping for an appetiser or a main during your Global Village food tour, these flatbreads will do the trick. Made on a huge iron pan (great for a tantalising Instagram video), get them topped with either zaatar mixed in olive oil, or akawi and mozzarella – or go all out and get both in one. Available at Sajpalace.
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