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United Arab Emirates | Cooking Around the World


July 30, 2021 | Laura Bullock | This post may contain affiliate links.

UAE Cooking Around the World


Hello! I'm so glad that you're here to take a culinary trip to United Arab Emirates (UAE) with us! This post is part of my Cooking Around the World series. If you haven't been on a trip with us before, this is where my husband and I randomly pick a country, find the most popular dish of that country, spend a whole evening together making it, listen to music from that country, and watch videos about the food culture there! It's a lot of fun trying and cooking new foods. It really does make for the perfect date night.

My Cooking Around the World adventures are guided by a forum I ran across on the internet. You can find the Reddit list here. Basically somebody asked, "What food is your country most known for?" and the forum kind of blew up with responses from all over the world! My husband and I's goal is to really capture the culture of each country by making an authentic recipe of the most popular dish listed. So what are you waiting for? You don't even have to pack your bags because we are traveling to United Arab Emirates without ever leaving our kitchen!

Interested in taking a trip to a different country? Check out the other countries & states we have visited here!

The Country: United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Tidbits about UAE:

- Location:

Moroccan Map

- Official Language: Arabic

- Formal Greeting in UAE: As-salaam 'alykum which translates to 'peace be upon you'

- How to Say 'Thank You': Shukran (pronounced shook-ran)

- How to Say 'Goodbye': Mae Alsalama which translates to 'go with peace'

- How to Say 'The food is delicious.': Altaeam ladhidh

- Capital: Abu Dhabi

- Flag:

UAE Flag


The recipe voted most popular for UAE was harees. As always, I look all over the internet for an authentic recipe to make in order to get as close to the real deal as possible. The recipe I stumbled upon is from a blog named Emiratican Kitchen. You can find her recipe for harees here.


An English translation of harees is 'beaten wheat and meat.' It consists of wheatberries, meat (usually lamb, sometimes chicken), butter, and seasonings. Common seasonings include cinnamon, cumin, garlic, ginger, turmeric, parsley, and cardamom. In Arabic countries, it is usually seasoned with cinnamon, cumin, and cardamom. After cooking, harees has the consistency of porridge. It looks very similar to oatmeal!

According to Emiratican Kitchen, harees is a very common food during Ramadan. After fasting, it's really easy for the stomach to digest. You can also find harees being served in various parts of the world during other special occassions as well such as weddings, engagement parties, Christmas, Eid, and Easter. It's the perfect dish to throw together for large crowds.

As just mentioned, harees is not just found in Emirati kitchens. It is also served in Armenian, Kashmiri, and Indian cuisines. Though each country has a slightly different version of harees.


Head over to Emiratican Kitchen to get a super delicious harees recipe. This is the exact one that my husband and I followed.

This recipe was pretty hands-off for the most part. It makes sense why this is the perfect dish for large groups of people. Delicious, hands-off, and quite easy to make huge pots of it! On to cooking!

I checked all of my local grocery stores for wheat berries with no luck. That lead me to Amazon where I found these wheat berries by Palouse Brand. It's difficult to say if they were good wheat berries or not as I have never cooked with wheat berries before, but I thought they ended up being delicious.


Wheat berries are the part of the wheat kernel that you can eat. The only thing removed from wheat berries is the inedible husk. It includes the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. Yes, that means you can plant them and get wheat! On the other hand you can grind up wheat berries and get wheat flour. Wheat berries become chewy when cooked and taste nutty. You may see them being used in soups, stews and salads.

This recipe does need a little bit of planning as the wheat berries need to soak overnight prior to cooking. Just throw them in a bowl of water when you go to bed, and you'll be good to go! As for the protein, I chose to use chicken. I wanted to try lamb, but I'm currently cooking my way through a sea of lamb legs for my Julia Child task so chicken it is.

United Arab Emirates Harees

By the way, I cooked my chicken in my InstantPot. Have you ever tried it before? It's my favorite thing. Just put a cup of liquid at the bottom, put in the rack, place the whole chicken on the rack, and cook. I do about 6 minutes per pound and natural release for 15 minutes. It comes out perfect every time. For a recipe like this, I don't even add seasonings or herbs, but if I plan to eat the chicken on its own, I'll fancy it up.

Authentic UAE Chicken Harees

Then take that amazing chicken juice at the bottom of your InstantPot and use it in this recipe. Delish! Now the chicken,, wheat berries seasonings, and water/stock get cooked together in a large pot until you get a porridge-consistency. It took me close to 2 hours to accomplish this consistency and every minute was worth it.

The closest thing I can compare this dish to is chicken salad. It was great and the melted butter on top made it even better. Cinnamon on top of this dish was definitely different than anything I have eaten, but it worked. It worked so well! I loved harees, and I'm now curious about using lamb. If you use lamb when you make it, let me know how it is below!

This trip to the UAE was so much fun. Great food, fun atmosphere, and a full belly. What more could you want out of life?

Cooking Around the World Harees

For this recipe:


I have found some fun UAE and UAE-inspired songs on Spotify. We listened to this while we were cooking and eating and really put us right into the country! You can find the playlist to all these songs below and by clicking here!


One of my favorite things about these virtual trips is watching videos over the food culture of the country. I love this video made by Mark Wiens. He tries lots of great street food in Dubai!

I hope you enjoyed reading about "our trip" to the United Arab Emirates! If you take a virtual trip to UAE too, let me know down in the comments!

Interested in taking a trip to a different country? Check out the other countries & states we have visited here!


Morocco | Couscous with Seven Vegetables

Italy | Bolognese & Margherita Pizza

Lebanon | Kibbeh & Warak Enab

شهية طيبة! [shahiat tayiba!] - translation of Bon appétit! in Arabic

July 30, 2021 by Laura Bullock

This United Arab Emirates | Cooking Around the World blog post may contain some Amazon affiliate links. These link to products that I personally use and recommend. If you purchase anything using my links, it will not cost you anything. It will though give some financial support which helps me keep this blog running. Thank you for reading my blogs and your continued support.


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