A Comprehensive Guide to Middle Eastern Cuisine for Your Dubai Event

Looking to delight guests at your party with Middle Eastern cuisine? With its rich and varied history, the region is a culinary treat and you have a lot of options. The catering experts at ServiceMarket are here to help. We have compiled the ultimate list of mouth-watering Middle Eastern food featuring everything from low-carb salads to scrumptious desserts – and drinks to wash everything down. Ready to select a menu and start preparing for your big event? Call a catering service in Dubai and pick from any of these favorites. 

Fattoush  

This light and tangy salad is perfect as a side dish or a meal starter. Fried or toasted pieces of pita are combined with mixed greens. Big chunks of tomatoes, and radishes add a dash of color. Topped off with a lime vinaigrette dressing, fattoush is a vegetarian’s delight but you certainly don’t need to be one to enjoy it!  

Tabbouleh

Another vegetarian favorite, tabbouleh is typically prepared with bulgur (cracked wheat) along with finely-chopped parsley, tomatoes, onions,and other vegetables. Seasoned with lime and fresh mint, this bright salad is specially refreshing during the Dubai summers. 

Hummus 

Hummus enjoys global popularity. A wholesome and healthy concoction made from chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice, it is typically served with flatbread. You can also use it as a dip for vegetable platters. Serve it with crunchy carrots and celery and you have the perfect appetizer.

Baba Ganoush  

Close to hummus in texture and popularity, baba ganoush is prepared with almost the same ingredients. Just replace chickpeas with mashed, cooked eggplant and add in an occasional kick of spice!

Falafel

The quintessential middle eastern snack which can be turned into a meal, falafel is made from ground chickpeas or fava beans mixed with light spices and onions. These are shaped into small dough balls and deep fried until golden brown. The crusty exterior contrasts with the soft filling inside for a delicious surprise. Serve them with a dip or put them into a pita with assorted vegetables and sauces to create falafel sandwiches. 

Dolma

This culinary treat originates from the Middle East and the Mediterrarean, but has become a staple across the world. A grape vine leaf is used as wrap to roll in a mixture of rice, tomatoes, herbs, and minced meat. There are many variations of this mixture, and vegetarian options are available as well. Dip in a garlic and yogurt-based sauce to enhance the flavor. Serve it hot or cold, but beware of letting it sit around in the heat as it starts to lose texture very quickly. 

Shawarma

No Arab culinary list is complete without the Shawarma. This pita-based roll/sandwich is a ubiquitous item across the middle east and has gained great popularity in Europe and America as well. Chicken, beef, or lamb is marinated in spices and slow roasted on a rotating spit. Thin strips of meat are then sliced off and stuffed into a pita pocket along with assorted vegetables and tahini sauce. 

Grilled kabobs

Another middle eastern treat with global popularity, grilled kabobs are small cubes of meat (chicken, beef, or lamb) marinated in popular spices and grilled to juicy perfection. Serve these on skewers or create platters with rice. Use any of the above mentioned starters and salads and create a wholesome well-rounded meal. Check with your catering service if they can grill at your event to really get that fresh hot flavor. 

Manakish

A pizza is always a popular option at any event. Let us talk about the middle eastern version of it – Manakish. Easy to eat and loaded with simple but robust flavor, this dish features a flatbread covered with cheese, herbs, minced beef or lamb. A popular street food item, Manakish finds it way into the menus of top-rated restaurants as well. 

Mansaf

This Jordanian dish features lamb as the mainstay. Marinated in yogurt and slow cooked till tender, large pieces of bone-in lamb are served on a bed of rice and pita sprinkled with almonds and pine nuts. Larger servings may appear intimidating but one bite and you will be lost in the flavor of this traditional favorite. 

Baklava

It’s finally time for desert! This filo-based pastry is held together with plenty of honey or syrup and ground nuts. Not surprising then that this sticky syrupy treat is popular all over the world! A catering service can whip up an assortment of these incorporating regional variances  depending on your preference. 

Kanafeh

Another syrupy treat, Kanafeh is a popular cheese-based pastry. Soaked in sugary syrup and sprinkled with nuts, it is enjoyed widely across the Middle East with each country adding its own unique touch. For example, in Egypt clotted cream is used instead of cheese. Stories abound of its popularity with royalty, today it is enjoyed everywhere from the streets to the fanciest restaurants. 

Umm Ali 

Consider this a Middle Eastern bread pudding! Another Arab pastry dish, this one is prepared in milk and cream and comes with plenty of colorful background stories. Some describe it as the celebratory dish prepared after a royal murder. It’s dark past aside, today, it is enjoyed as a hearty treat with different versions featuring croissant pieces, raisins, pistachios, and vanilla. Serve it piping hot or cold for a sweet finish to any meal. 

Turkish Coffee

Offering a high caffeine level, this little cup packs a big punch. Finely ground coffee, sugar, and water are brought to a boil in a special pot called cezve. It can also be prepared without sugar for a more bitter taste. Often served with a sweet treat, this is a drink designed to show hospitality. It is true to an old Tukish proverb, “coffee should be black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love.”

Jellab

For summer events, especially those during the day, pick a fruity ice-cold drink to neuter the mercury level. Jellab is made from grape molasses, dates, and rose water mixed in with crushed ice for a sweet cold treat. Pine nuts and raisins are not just a favorite topping for food in the Middle East. You will find plenty of Jellab glasses topped off with nuts to give it an extra boost of flavor. 

Laban

This rich and creamy yogurt based drink is the perfect way to beat the Dubai heat. It can be enjoyed plain or flavored with dates, rosewater, orange blossom water or spices like saffron and cardamom. A lot of local cafes are using it as a base to create more exotic flavors, mixing a little new with the old. 

Choose any of these favorites and set a menu that is sure to make your event the talk of the town. Depending on the size of your event, you can choose as many dishes as needed. Don’t want to deal with the hassle of planning and executing the menu? Hire a catering service in Dubai and they will create a perfect event for you. Browse for the right catering service on ServiceMarket and get into the party spirit today!

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