Camel burgers, ice cream, coffees – here’s where to try the best camel meat and milk dishes in Dubai
September 17, 2018 8:10 AM
Camel dishes aren’t all that popular in restaurants in Dubai, chiefly because the meat itself is actually quite tough, which makes cooking with it a bit of a struggle. Camel burgers are growing in popularity, but more as a novelty meal than a regular part of the diet. And it’s a shame, because as a naturally lean meat, camel is a great source of protein, as is camel milk – though we’re pretty sure you can’t claim any resulting ice creams as a health food. Here’s where to try some of the city’s best – and more unusual – camel dishes. So, one hump or two?
Camel bolognese at Switch
The Dubai Mall is, quite unexpectedly, an absolute haven of camel-based creations. Switch, an otherwise rather blandly futuristic-looking restaurant near the Dubai Ice Rink, is one of the originators in the shopping complex. Camel burgers are the most common dish you’ll find on any menu daring enough to feature dromedary, but it’s the camel bolognese we’re most intrigued to try here. It’s really as simple as that – spag bol as you know and love it, just with an added lump of minced hump.
Dhs67. The Dubai Mall (04 339 9131).
Camel cookies at Camel Cookies
Aptly named, this one. Described as a “taste of the Emirates”, this UAE-born brand – which operates a kiosk in Dubai Mall – was launched to show off some of the brilliant flavours native to regional desserts. (Exactly the kind of thing you won’t often find lining the display at Dubai’s wealth of American dessert chains.) Camel milk is used within the cookie recipes, but isn’t quite the star of the show. Nevertheless, a date and saffron-filled version of one of these filled fancies (they’re the cookie equivalent of a Chicago deep-pan pizza, drool) should not be passed up.
Though beloved for its novelty value, this old-fashioned themed Emirati restaurant in Bur Dubai’s Al Fahidi Historical District falls short when it comes to food (we’ll say it – it’s a tourist trap). So skip the sizzling camel or camel burgers (though it’s worth mentioning this was the first place to sell camel burgers in Dubai), and drop in for a refreshing camel milk shake instead. Embrace the setting further still by making it a date shake. Sure, it’ll be sweet – but you’ll need all that extra energy to fuel your Meena Bazaar shopping bonanza.
Whether you’ve an intolerance or just looking for a slightly healthier alternative to cow’s milk, The Majlis serves up not just camel milk beverages, but also pre-packed camel milk chocolates (nifty novelty gifts), camel milk-infused cakes and camel milk ice cream. Try the vanilla and see if you can taste the difference.
Dhs25. The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai (054 347 7931).
Camel milk gelato at Treej Café
Ever tried Arabic mastic gelato? No? Then stop whatever you’re doing and get yourself down to Treej immediately to try a scoop of cardamom-infused awesome. This particular gelato is also made from camel milk, as are the other delightfully local flavours including baklava, honey saffron and date. Nom.
There’s also hummus with sautéed camel meat (Dhs36) on the menu at this relatively posh Emirati eatery, but given the meagre scattering of tiny camel chunks, you’re better off going all in with a tenderloin to experience the real flavour and texture of the meat. Served with dry curried potatoes and a zaatar “pesto”, it’s certainly one of the more ambitious dishes out there – not to mention among the priciest.
Dhs133. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai (04 513 6207).
Doesn’t it get more fusion than this? We can scarcely believe it. Camel’s a notoriously tough meat, so it’s uncommon to find a dromedary fillet on the menu, but dromedary dim sum? Sorted. These dumplings feature slow-cooked camel mince, all wrapped up and served in a traditional steamer. A must-try at this brand-new casual Chinese spot in The Dubai Mall.
Dhs41. The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai (04 224 6819).
“Nomad” camel burger at Bareburger
In among Bareburger’s organic offerings is this, the Nomad. One of the best camel burgers out there (there are many, and many of them mealy and awful), it’s mightily portioned and impressively moist, given the meat’s naturally low fat content. Expect wild camel, aged cheddar, a fried egg, fried onions, dill pickles and habanero mayo, all wedged within a brioche bun. And yes, you can still taste the difference in the meat through all that.
Dhs45. Various locations including City Walk, Al Safa Street (04 385 4282).