Top 9 Street Food You Must Try In Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

street food in abu dhabi

One of the ways to judge the brilliance of a region’s cuisine is to sample its street food. The UAE’s gift to the world just so happens to be its delectable, rich gastronomy, particularly the street food. One might argue that you get what you pay for, but one of the exceptions to this rule is UAE’s sublime and unforgettable street food. Not only is it extremely cheap, but it is also innovative, filling, and tasty to the hilt. So, if you’re visiting Abu Dhabi and are famished but you are looking for food-on-the-go, here is some amazing street food you must try in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

1. Madrooba

Source: Photo by user AmnaMF used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The large wooden spoon of “Madrooba” that is used to make this dish is the very inspiration behind its name. Made from various kinds of “maleh” (salt-cured fish) in a cornucopia of Emirati sauces and spices, the nutritious, filling, and healthy Madrooba is an extremely popular dish during Ramadan and other festivals as well. The recipe is an arduous one and takes a lot of time to prepare, during which the eponymous spoon is employed for beating the batter to create a thick consistency. This melt-in-the-mouth comfort dish is eaten with a flatbread called “raqaq”. Yum!

2. Samboosa

al fanar samboosa and pakoras
Source: Photo by user Krista used under CC BY 2.0

Crunchy food always leaves a hankering for more, and when it comes to Emirati street food in Abu Dhabi, the Samboosa tops that list! The Emirati version of the popular Indian snack of “Samosa”, whose origins go back to Central Asia, these triangle-shaped stuffed pastries are filled with assorted succulent spices, veggies, and meats. Meat variants include beef mince, lamb, chicken, and even peas and potatoes for vegetarians. A favorite teatime snack in the city, the crunchy Samboosa can leave you longing for more, and can even be packed up and snacked on during day trips or long car rides in the gorgeous Abu Dhabi.

3. Harees

al fanar harees scooped
Source: Photo by user Krista used under CC BY 2.0

One of the UAE’s most traditional dishes, Harees, or Al Harees, is a dish akin to porridge made with simple ingredients of wheat, meat, and salt. A must-have during Ramadan, weddings, and other religious festivals, the most special part about Harees is probably how it is made. Ground wheat with salt is cooked well in a pot before the meat is added and the mixture is simmered well for a few hours. The entire mixture is placed in a clay pot and buried in a hot coal-filled hole in the ground. After a few hours, the mixture is stirred with a special wooden spoon “midrib” before being served with some amazing ghee (clarified butter) on top.

4. Shawarma

Beef Shawarma
Source: Photo by user Hill93 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Featured on every single must-eat-Emirati-dish list is the unparalleled, lip-smacking Shawarma, which is tender, juicy chicken/lamb meat and some soggy fries with generous amounts of hummus/garlicky yogurt sauce, all wrapped up in unleavened Lebanese bread. Made famous by the Avengers as they gorged on Shawarma after their heroic exploits in the movie, this simple yet fierce favorite of a street snack will leave you all but quiet while you gorge on this luscious, well-seasoned wrap. Tip: Shawarmas are an evening snack only, and most vendors begin serving them only around 6 pm.

5. Fareed

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Miansari66 used under CC0

Also known as Thareed/Tharid in certain dialects, the delicious lamb stew dish of Fareed is a great street comfort food and also a part of most iftar dining tables in Abu Dhabi. The slow-cooked, hearty stew features tender lamb/goat meat and its marrow and a plethora of vegetables such as pumpkin, tomatoes, and potatoes. The stew is poured over thin Reqaq flatbread, the commonest Emritai flatbread, and a staple in Emirati homes. The bread soaks up the stew, creating a wonderfully luscious pasta-like layer at the bottom. The traditional meat broth sometimes includes chickpeas and it has a vegetarian version that skips the meat.

6. Manakkish

Source: Photo by user Mervat Salman used under CC BY-SA 4.0

A Lebanese snack and a local favorite, Manakkish is what can be called an Emirati pizza, for good measure. This delectable roadside food is essentially a large, circular flatbread that features loads of cheese, an assortment of vegetables and meats on top of it, and it is cooked in an oven - almost like a pizza! Meat lovers can choose a host of meat toppings - lamb, beef, or chicken - while vegetarians have their own choice of vegetable toppings so as to not miss out on this delicious street food. Top everything off with thyme and olive oil, and chow down on what will be the best street dish of your life.

7. Luqaimat

Source: Photo by user Wikiemirati used under CC BY-SA 4.0

A street food affair sans desserts is incomplete. Fortunately, Emirati cuisine has a mouth-watering dessert that is spelled in many different ways but is the same on the plate - Luqaimat, which is little fried dough balls with soft insides smeared in sublime, sweet date syrup. An extremely popular Emirati dessert, especially during Ramadan, Luqaimat features ingredients of flour, yeast, milk, butter, sugar, saffron, and cardamom whipped to form a smooth batter, which is deep-fried into beautiful, golden balls. These balls are then drenched in sticky date syrup known as Dibbs and are the perfect way to end an Emirati meal.

8. Shish Tawouk Sandwich

TAG A SHISH TAWOUK LOVER #Repost @lebanese_delicious_dishes #shishtaouk#tawouk#sandwich#chickentikka...

Posted by Beirut Circle on Wednesday, 27 December 2017

One of UAE’s lesser-known street food gems and one extremely popular with the locals is the Shish Tawouk Sandwich, which is a staple at any middle-eastern street food stall. The piquant dish features traditional Shish Kebab, which is thinly-sliced chicken pieces, pickles, luscious veggies, herbs, and spices stuffed into a piece of flatbread. Paired with fries and pickles, this delectable sandwich is a great option for filling, on-the-go food while you’re out on the streets exploring Abu Dhabi.

9. Chips Oman Roll

Kheema oman chips sanwich roll - the best

Posted by JorenQ- UAE food guide on Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Perfectly combining crunch and cheesy goodness is the street food of Chips Oman Roll, which can be found in almost every tea shop and cafeteria in Abu Dhabi. The main ingredient of this dish is Oman Chips, an extremely popular local chip and an inherent part of every Emirati kid’s childhood. The roll itself is a plain but soft and flaky roll layered with cheese, a hint of Tabasco sauce, and olive oil, and it is stacked with crunchy pieces of Oman Chips. If you have a particular hankering even after you’re full, pack some for the road!

Street food goodness in Abu Dhabi

Whether you’re a vegetarian or a lover of non-vegetarian food, Abu Dhabi’s street food has a smattering of lip-smacking goodness that will appeal to everyone, turning everyone into hardcore foodies. Head to this gorgeous Emirati city and check out these street food options you must try in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

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Freelance writer. Coffee-lover. An expert at Kopfkino. Loves discussing New Zealand, domino theory, dystopian fiction, & Harry Potter.

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