Gulf Life

Dilmun Delights – Bahraini Cuisine

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Bread and dips
Bread and dips

A mélange of flavours courtesy its varied influences Bahrain Cuisine is a potpourri of gastronomic delights. Bahrain’s varied and rich culinary culture is influenced by Indian, Lebanese, Persian, Sri Lankan, and Palestinian foods and offers a great mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. At the heart of the food is the typical Bahraini Spice Mix and Black Lemon (it is actually jet black), a souring agent. The gamut of food ranges from the typical Gulf delights like hummus, tabbouleh, Biryani, Harees, Mahyawa, Maglooba, Qouzi, Khabeesa, Machboos and Zalabia apart from the national drink Qahwah. In fact with its huge number of date palms, Bahrain also has the moniker ‘Land of a Million Date Palms.’

Typical Breakfast Spread
Typical Breakfast Spread

When you are here you must try the Machboos, a fragrant rice that is cooked with different meat and is like Biryani. A favourite with locals, it is made using fish, chicken or lamb infused with spices like black lemon, saffron, black pepper and cardamom, this is considered the national dish of Bahrain. A variant made on special occasions is Qouzi a stuffed lamb with rice nuts, raisins and eggs. Since meat is a favourite, the Nasheef is a stew made with chicken or lamb and potatoes in a tomato gravy. The Khubus is a special soft, pillowy bread baked fresh in an oven and a staple in all meals starting with breakfast and is served with Mahyawa fish sauce. In fact the locals also eat a lot of grilled food that team wonderfully with the Khubus.

Haji Cafe
Haji Cafe

The fact that Bahrain has fresh water wells in its sea ensures that the sea food here is amazing and Hamour is a fish that is most popular. Crayfish, Crap, Prawns, Lobster, Tuna, Safi and Mackerel are other must have sea food options. For desserts the local halwa made with corn syrup, nuts, honey, saffron and nuts is a must try. In fact several stores also retail the halwa. The Samboosa akin to samosa comes with a filling of meat, pepper or onion is a famed traditional starter here. The traditional Sheesha or hookah the sweetened and flavored tobacco is served in most open-air coffee shops is a popular indulgence too. Luqaimat or sweet dumplings made with fried dough in a rich saffron and cardamom based sugar syrup is usually served with the Arabic coffee, Qahwah. If you love food, Bahraini cuisine will take you on a sensory overdrive – try it and you will know.

Beetroot and Pomegranate Salad
Beetroot and Pomegranate Salad

Must Try Foods

  • Sharbat Zaffran
  • Balaleet
  • Liver with Khoboos & Mehyawa
  • Bahraini Breakfast Platter
  • Fish Machboos
  • Saafi & Rice
  • Sambusa
  • Bahraini grills
  • Sulaimani
  • Halwa

This story appeared in Gulf Life Magazine’s May 2018 issue here:

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