Stuffed Camels & Halva & Starbucks, Oh My! - The Dubai Shopping Festival


Photo by Mark Belokopytov — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

Although Dubai has changed a lot from its Bedouin past, it still shares a passion for setting world records with its nomadic ancestors. The pastorialist Bedouins currently hold the Guinness World Record for the “largest item on a menu”. The “item” in question is a sort of meta-camel with manifest relations to the Turducken. This staple of Bedouin wedding feasts involves a chicken stuffed with rice and hard boiled eggs, a lamb stuffed with said chickens, and a camel stuffed with…well, you get the idea. Le tout is broiled over an open fire, decorated with nuts and the rest is food history.

You’re more likely to come across a Starbucks Vanilla Rooibos Tea Latte in modern-day Dubai than you are a stuffed camel, but record-setting adepts will not be disappointed by a visit to the most populous city in the United Arabs Emirates. On February 13th, The Dubai Shopping Festival (officially cited as the Dubai Food Festival, but “shopping” rhymes with Dubai) just set the record for the largest dessert buffet in the world. Over 40 hotels participated in this mammoth exhibition of 2,232 desserts. A red-hot melting pot of world culture, Dubai cuisine is influenced by Lebanese, Iranian and Persian culture with significant input from every other country on the planet. Pistachio Baklava, Quatayef (Arabic stuffed pancakes), Iranian Halva, Coconut Burfi from India, Green Tea ice cream and brownies à la mode are just a smattering of the delicacies up for grabs last week.

Have a sweet tooth? Sneak some leftovers and head over to the Dubai International Jazz Festival. Because this is Dubai, jazz doesn’t mean just jazz. James Blunt and John Legend will share the main stage with up-and-coming talents like Peter Cincotti and Kaz Simmons.

Can’t make it to Dubai? Bring the flavors and sensations of the Middle East to you with this delicious recipe for Halva. Halva is relatively easy to make if you can get your hands on some rosewater. If you can’t, sit back and visit other great festivals in Dubai. Halva great day!

- Courtney Maum

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