Global Village, now in its 17th year, is a carnival in Dubailand with national pavilions from around the world. Each country showcases local handicrafts and food products as well as stalls serving up regional delicacies. It is one of the only places in Dubai where one can interact directly with farmers and producers. And, the quality of some of the raw ingredients available there are far superior to those in the supermarkets. Unlike the USA almonds that populate Dubai’s grocery stores, the almonds from the Afghanistan pavilion taste like marzipan. Olive oil from Palestinian farms is a vibrant green and redolent with floral and earthy notes. If you haven’t been yet, it is definitely worth the trip out there. Here are my picks for the Top 10 Things to Eat at Global Village.
1. Bundoo Khans Kebabs – Until its recent opening in Deira, Global Village was the only place outside of Pakistan to try this iconic Karachi kebab joint. It’s famous for its Behari kebabs which literally melt in your mouth. The haleem is nicely seasoned, and this cold weather is perfect for ending with halwa puri for dessert.
2. Lamacun – The Turkish version of the lahambeajin has more spices than the Arabic one that you may be familiar with. They are baked fresh in a wood fired oven and taste as good as any I’ve tried in Istanbul.
3. Iranian Falooda – A curious combination of shaved ice, falooda (noodles made from cornstarch), topped with sugar syrup, lemon juice and rose water.
4. Date Lgeimat – All over Global Village you’ll see seated Emirati ladies making these fried donuts drizzled with date honey.
5. Zaatar – If you think all zaatar is pretty much the same, get ready to be schooled. Vendors in the Palestinian pavilion will make you taste up to 10 different kinds until you’ve settled on your preferred combination of the zingy spice mix.
6. Yemeni Honey – Each honey farmer has up to 20 types of honey. There are formulas that aid in weight loss, treat a cold, and an “only for married” variety for those who are feeling amorous.
7. Palestinian Falafel – Falafel can very often be dense and heavy, but not at this stand. These falafels are wonderfully light and flavorful and seasoned with just the right amount of tahini and hot sauce.
8. Spanish Churros – It’s difficult not to like fried dough, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, and dipped in a velvety dark chocolate.
9. Durian at the Thai Exotic Fruit Stand: Love it or hate it, this is perhaps the only place outside of Southeast Asia you’ll be able to try the stuff. This fruit is so notoriously stinky, it’s banned in hotels and public spaces. I’ve seen many an omnivore felled by the pungent fruit. I tried it and survived. It tastes like a jackfruit, with the texture of avocado.
10. Jarred Labneh – These homemade labnehs are found at various Levantine stands. Some are mixed with green olives, chilies and even pomegranate seeds. One container should keep refrigerated for a few months, if it lasts that long.