Bahrain is a wonderful island country and quite the melting pot of customs and traditions, having welcomed and embraced various cultures. However, the indigenous Bahraini food is still preserved and is an integral part of the nation’s story. Like most countries in the Gulf, the Kingdom’s native food has a slight influence of Persian and Arabian flavours and preparations. But locally, it’s cooked in its own specific style and character. Traditional Bahraini cuisine uses simple elements, such as fish, meat, rice, dates and spices.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular local dishes.

Popular Favourites

Baid Tamat: A popular breakfast staple – scrambled eggs cooked with crushed tomatoes and aromatic spices.

Balaleet: A sweet and savoury vermicelli preparation, usually sweetened with sugar and cardamom, topped with an egg omelette, traditionally served at breakfast.

Harees: A well-known porridge-like dish, made with cracked wheat and meat, slow-cooked for more than eight hours, usually topped with melted butter, cinnamon.

Machboos: Considered the national dish of Bahrain, it is extremely popular. Seasoned rice along with chicken (sometimes fish) is prepared with a blend of aromatic spices, such as cloves and mainly black lime (also known as lumee), garnished with fried onions and served with tomato sauce.

Muhammar: A distinctive sweet rice dish made using dates or sugar, rose water and cardamom, usually served as a side dish alongside grilled or fried fish.

Mumawwash: An aromatic rice preparation cooked with green lentils and spices, topped with dried shrimp.

Quzi (Ghoozi): A popular dish of roasted lamb, slow cooked with spices, served on a bed of rice with fried onions, nuts and raisins.

Local Catch

Because of its location in the Gulf, Bahrain also offers a great choice of fresh fish. A favourite is hammour (grouper), which is typically served grilled, fried or steamed. Then there’s Safi (rabbit fish) and Sobaity (sea bream), both equally popular local varieties, usually served with rice.

Street Food
Bahrain also dishes up some delicious snacky street food, such as falafel – deep fried chickpea fritters, served in Arabic pita bread pockets with fresh greens and sauces; shawarma – chicken or lamb meat carved from a rotating spit, wrapped in pita bread with salad and sauces; malgoum – shawarma served in Indian paratha bread with cheese and French fries; the alltime-favourite samboosa – deep fried stuffed pastries filled with cheese, vegetables or meat; and many others.

Sweet Delights

Bahraini Halwa: A favourite traditional dessert enjoyed by all, made with cornstarch, sugar, saffron, rosewater and nuts.

Luqaimat: Donut-like fried dumplings with saffron and cardamom, soaked in sweet syrup.

Besides food, Gahwa or Arabic coffee is another favourite – it has a distinct cardamom flavour and is usually served with dates. Although, the Indian-inspired milky, spiced karak chai is becoming increasingly popular too.