With more than 200 nationalities residing in the country, the UAE’s culinary landscape is as rich as it is diverse.
But what if you’re looking for truly authentic flavours and experiences? One obvious starting-point is to ask expats from different countries what tastes they miss most from home and what they would recommend?
Filipino, Maricar Duncan, a make-up artist and owner of the Beautology Salon in Silicon Oasis, says that anyone wishing to try her national cuisine should start with ginataang munggo. “It’s a delicious mung bean or green jackfruit soup with malunggay (moringa) or spinach leaves – as well as coconut milk, served with meat or seafood,” she says. “It’s creamy and its rich flavour is perfect for rainy days!”
For me, nothing beats the Kerala beef fry when I think of food from home.
Duncan says that ginataang is a nutritious and good value dish and suggests pairing it with a steamed rice and yellow corn grits mix.
“I miss these foods. They are simple and they remind me of my simple farm life back in the Philippines,” she says.
Dubai-based Indian influencer, Ajmal Khan, advocates a popular Kerala dish. Khan, who has amassed 1.3 million followers, misses the simple flavours of his family’s home cooking. “For me, nothing beats the Kerala beef fry when I think of food from home. I love that it is so succulent - tender chunks of beef slow-roasted with aromatic spices, coconut strips and curry leaves."
One dish I would recommend is terang bulan, which means bright moon in English.
Youssef Soliman, an Egyptian student says that seasonal stuffed pigeon is his meal of choice. “It’s a street food in Cairo but it’s also something we cook at home during the autumn. The pigeon’s stuffed with rice, liver and kidneys and is seasoned with spices."
Soliman suggests molokhia as a side. The molokhia’s leaves are finely minced and mixed with a broth, topped with garlic.
Dubai-based Indonesian graphic artist and illustrator, Ayang Cempaka, would steer any culinary aficionado towards dishes that contribute to her country’s vibrant street food scene. “I miss Indonesian street foods so much!” she says. “One dish I would recommend is terang bulan, which means bright moon in English. Cempaka describes it as, “a big, round thick and pillowy sweet pancake – served with butter, cheese and sprinkled with chocolate meisjes or and chopped peanuts.”
For French resident, Lucie Traunade, she is keen to educate people on the difference between pancakes and crêpes and misconceptions about them being unhealthy. “My mother is the best when it comes to crêpes Suzette, I say crêpes - not pancakes. Crepes Suzette are far more delicate and succulent.
“Only my mother knows the right dosage of ingredients to make crepes savoury and healthy. I always look forward to the next trip to France for a perfect culinary moment.”
So, what if you are indeed missing that taste of home?
In a city filled with such a rich and varied melting pot of different cultures and cuisines, one recently launched UAE pizza brand has noticed this gap in the market.
Its affordable pizzas are designed specifically to offer expat residents that quick, convenient and easily sharable taste of home delivered to their flat, villa or workplace.
The menu at Weirdough has been designed especially to cater for the UAE population’s tastes. It features an Idukki Gold, Kerala-inspired pizza with authentic blackened-fried beef and roasted coconut toppings.
The quintessentially French ingredient – truffle – adorns another pizza and a pie, specifically inspired by Indonesian cuisine, features marinated sautéed chicken and satay sauce – a take on the popular Jakarta street food dish, sate ayam.
To learn more, visit weirdough.com
Weirdough is also available on Zomato, Talabat, Uber Eats and Deliveroo.