The Middle Eastern cuisine relies heavily on spices and herbs. The cuisine is flavorful and fragrant because of the different unique spices and herbs used in the cooking.
The Spice Souk is one of Dubai’s most prominent traditional markets. Over the years, the Spice Souk has become a well-known tourist attraction because to its wide selection of exotic spices. Saffron, chamomile flowers, sumac, cardamom, turmeric, thyme, cloves, cinnamon, chili, and peppers are among the spices you may buy in the spice souk in Dubai.
Sumac is another fascinating element in Emirati cuisine. In Africa and North America, this is a plant that grows organically. It yields a reddish-brown fruit with a sour flavor when dried and ground up. It’s can also be used as a natural dye.
The dry spice is made from the berries’ powder, a wild shrub. It has a citrus, tart flavor, making it a great spice rub or marinade ingredient. It is also great for sprinkling on top of any dish because of its magnificent rich red color.
Sumac is excellent for enhancing the flavor of meat recipes by adding complexity. It is utilized to produce an unusual palette of flavors in the dish, similar to using lemon or lime to accent particular meats. Sumac is typically sprinkled on foods that have been barbecued, such as lamb and chicken. It’s also a vital component in hummus and goes nicely with fish. Although hummus is frequently available in Dubai, it is not a traditional Emirati dish.
The sour taste of sumac is occasionally used in place of lemons in recipes. It is a beautiful addition to sauces like this Roasted Beet and Feta Cheese Salad because of its citrusy flavor.
This ancient spice blend contains dried herbs, sesame seeds, sumac, and sometimes salt. Za’atar is a staple in many Middle Eastern kitchen cabinets, most usually served on top of freshly baked bread. In addition to marinating meats and vegetables, this spice can also be sprinkled on eggs for breakfast.
Ras el Hanout
Ras el Hanout is a spice from Morocco and North Africa that loosely translates to “head of the shop.” Cardamom, clove cinnamon, coriander, turmeric, and a few other spices make up this top spice. It’s a good spice combination for stews and grills, but it’s also a good addition to any cooking style.
Back pepper, cumin, cinnamon, and cloves combine to make a strong spice. It’s commonly used to flavor soups, tomato-based sauces, lentils, pilafs, and even couscous. It also provides extra flavor and depth to the dish.
In Arabic, the word “bahrt” means “spices,” and it refers to a blend of spices that varies by country and location (and sometimes even by household). Black pepper, cardamom, cumin, cloves, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, and paprika are usually used in the spice blend. In gourmet or specialized food stores or online, you can buy a blend called “sebah baharat” (which means “seven spices”).
In meals like this Spiced Beef on Hummus, Baharat is often the blend that gives the dish a sweet, smokey flavor.
This simple spice, which has its origins in Egypt, has garnered popularity worldwide. The flavor is delicate but distinct, thanks to sesame seeds, coriander seeds, hazelnuts, and a few other components. It can be used to marinate meat and fish for grilling or mixed with yogurt and rubbed onto meat and vegetables, and eaten as a snack with oil and fresh bread.
Most of Dubai’s supermarkets, such as Carrefour, Spinneys, Choitram, and others, carry these spices. The drive to the original Spice Market, on the other hand, is absolutely worth it at least once if you’re seeking for the real deal.
The Middle East region was the source of this spice for millennia. The Mahaleb or St. Lucie cherry seeds are used to make it. A powder is made by extracting the seeds from the cherry pits. It’s a small amount of sugar added to sweets and baked goods to make them taste better. The flavor of mahlab is believed to be a cross between bitter almonds and cherry and marzipan.
Originally from Greece. It’s a resin made from a tree’s hardened sap. They have a crystalline texture and form in pea-like drops, similar to tears. Chewing gum, breath freshener, some liquors, Turkish delight, and other Middle Eastern delicacies like bread, pastries, and ice cream are all made using it. The taste of mastic is similar to that of cedar, and it cleans the breath.
Iraq is thought to be the birthplace of this ancient herb. It’s commonly found in curries, salads, meat meals, and rice dishes, among other things. Fenugreek has a somewhat nutty and pleasantly sweet flavor. It’s commonly said to be a cross between celery and maple.
Many people relate fenugreek to maple since it has a nutty, sweet flavor. It’s widely used in Indian cooking, along with Middle Eastern delicacies like Persian kuku sabzi (an herb frittata). Fenugreek can also be used in this Fig-Carrot Stuffed Kabocha Squash recipe or Spicy Lamb Curry.
Saffron is a type of crocus flower that is used to make the world’s most costly spice. It is often served with seafood or rice, as in a Persian tahdig (a crispy rice dish). Saffron can also be used in a frozen Indian delicacy called Kulfi or a Spanish-style Paella.
Aleppo pepper is a mild red chile pepper with a fruity flavor named after the Syrian city of Aleppo. In meat and vegetable dishes, dried Aleppo pepper flakes can be used as a spice—try adding a pinch to this Lemon Chicken with Orzo recipe.
When ripe, the Halaby chile plant produces peppers with a deep red color. After that, it’s dried and ground. The flavor of Aleppo pepper is earthy, but it’s not as fiery as the chili flakes you’re used to in the kitchen. It has a cumin-like flavor with a hint of raisins, citrus, and salt, as well as a bit of spice.
Cumin is one of the most widely used spices in the Middle East and one of the most commonly used spices in the world. It’s a savory spice with a strong aroma and flavor, and it’s what gives falafel its distinctive aroma and flavor. Try it in Roasted Butternut Squash Sandwich with Falafel, Tahini, and Cumin.
Many curries and other foods in the Middle East, Central Asia, and other civilizations rely heavily on this aromatic spice, which grows naturally from the Mediterranean to India. Cumin is a member of the same spice family as caraway and has a similar flavor profile. It can be eaten whole or processed into a yellowish-brown powder for cooking.
Cumin is a natural pairing with various meat dishes, particularly lamb, in the UAE, even though it is sometimes used with sweets.
Nutmeg is primarily used in desserts in western countries. On the other hand, its sweet earthiness is utilized in savory recipes, such as meat meals, in the Middle East.
In a steaming mug of hot Tahini Spiced Cocoa, it’s impossible to resist a hint of nutmeg, whether sweet or savory.
The smell of nutmeg may conjure up memories of the Christmas season in cultures with a European history. It is frequently baked into traditional desserts at the end of the year. On the other hand, Nutmeg is utilized in Emirati cuisine all year. It is commonly used in savory dishes rather than sweets.
Indonesians are the originators of this spice, which comes from the seed of an evergreen tree. According to historians, it is thought to have made its way to Dubai via ancient trading routes.
The spice cardamom is a high-priced ginger family seed pod native to the Indian subcontinent. It’s one of the key sweet masala chai flavoring components in India. It’s typically used with sweet meals in Dubai, while it’s rarely used with savory ones.
Many beverages contain cardamom. It is usually used on the ground, but the pods are also used occasionally. In comparison, the green pods have a more lemony flavor, while the black ones are hotter and have anise undertones. The taste of cardamom distinguishes Arabic and Turkish coffees.
Al balaleet, a type of omelet with a vermicelli basis, is one of Dubai’s most popular cardamom-based dishes. Cooks make a syrup with ghee and sugar, and spices, such as saffron and cardamom, to make al balaleet. The sweet sauce is then poured over the fried vermicelli made. Then, on top of that, a savory egg omelet is served. On holidays and for breakfast, this sweet-and-salty delicacy is enjoyed.
Turmeric is a spice linked to ginger and is native to Southeast Asia. It’s simple to spot because of its strong aroma and bright yellow color. The majority of the dishes that use turmeric are meat and vegetables. It has a bitter, slightly peppery flavor and is frequently ground. Polo Ba Morgh is an Iranian staple with an orange-yellow color and an earthy flavor (Chicken with Saffron Rice).
Many curries in the Middle East, India, and Asia include pulverized rhizomes as well. It’s also a component of natural dyes.
A rice meal made with chicken, lamb, fish, or shrimp is called al machboos. A cook produces a spicy stew with the meat, spices, tomato, and onion to prepare it. After that, he cooks it with rice in a risotto-like sauce.
Margooga is another example of a food that may contain turmeric. Margooga, like al machboos, begins with a meat-based stew. Then, like carrots or eggplant, you’ll add a lot of hefty vegetables. It’s served with a piece of unleavened bread that soaks up the flavors before the stew is totally reduced.
With a hint of dill, caraway has a slightly earthy but sweet flavor. In North African cuisine, caraway is utilized in spicier recipes.
Caraway seeds are a common component in bread baking. Still, they add a lot of flavor to this spicy Homemade Harissa, too.
One of the world’s oldest spices is anise seed. It’s a popular sweetener with a wide range of therapeutic properties.
Anise is a popular ingredient in pastries, such as these Toasted Anise Seed Cookies, because of its distinct licorice flavor.
Not only in desserts, but also in various other dishes, allspice is used. It can be found in sweets and meats and stews, and stews. With its robust but highly aromatic flavor, a dash of allspice adds a lot to a Fasulia (Green Bean and Beef Stew) recipe.
Cinnamon is a spice with a long history of being connected with sweet sweets like apple pie. It is, nevertheless, a common spice blend for shawarma. Cinnamon is commonly utilized in Middle Eastern food for its sweet and aromatic characteristics and its numerous health advantages. ‘True cinnamon’ is derived from the inner bark of a tree and is native to India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. It is used in various cuisines, either freshly ground or as whole sticks, to add flavor to broths. a variety of spices
The souk receives its spices from all around the world, as well as from the local area. The range of spices available in Dubai’s Spice Souk is nearly boundless; it’s reasonable to suggest that you can find all of the world’s spices here.
If you’re into online shopping, then Euromercato is a great place to shop for your spices. You can check their spice collection here.