Balaleet is commonly eaten for breakfast by locals in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The dish consists of thin noodles (vermicelli) sautéed in melted butter with sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, saffron and a little rose water. The noodles are topped with an omelette. Sounds unusual, but that's how it is! And Balaleet tastes really good!
I got to know Balaleet on my holiday in Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) in February 2023. Ras Al Khaimah is a small Arab emirate located north of Dubai. Before I let you know the delicious recipe for Balaleet here are some interesting information about the UAE and Ras Al Khaimah ...Jump to Recipe
The United Arab Emirates (UAE)
The UAE are located at the Persian Gulf coast and the Gulf of Oman. The country borders Saudi Arabia and Oman.
Similar to federal states, the UAE consist of seven individual emirates. These differ significantly in size, landscape and development.
The largest of all Emirates in terms of area is Abu Dhabi. It is the center of the Arabian oil and gas industry.
Dubai is the best known and most popular of all emirates. It is an important trade and service center. In addition, tourism is very important. In Dubai you can shop and eat excellently , go clubbing or discover cultural places. Dubai is amazing, especially at night.
Sharjah is the third largest emirate. It is situated northeast of Dubai. Both cities have practically grown together. Sharjah stands for culture and tradition. There is an absolute ban on alcohol!
The smallest of the seven emirates is Ajman. It borders Sharjah to the north. Live is much more quiet than in Abu Dhabi or Dubai. You won’t find extravagant or superlative things.
Live is also calm and relaxed in Umm al-Qaiwain (north of Ajaman), the second smallest emirate. The inhabitants mainly life from fishing, boat construction, date cultivation and tourism.
Fujairah is located in the east of the country. It borders to the Indian Ocean. Here you will find excellent diving and snorkeling spots. In contrast to the western Emirates, which are characterized by flat desert landscapes, the east is dominated by the mighty Hajar Mountains.
Ras Al Khaimah is the northeastern emirate. It offers sea, mountains and desert. It's the perfect destination to escape from the wet and cold February weather in Germany. Numerous excellent beach resorts - mostly located a few kilometers outside from Ras Al Khaimah city, on artificially constructed islands - offer a relaxing holiday. You can also book interesting desert tours and excursions to Dubai or Oman. I definitely enjoyed my vacation at Doubletree by Hilton Resort and Spa, Marjan Island very much.
A trip to Ras Al Khaimah city is also worthwhile. In contrast to Dubai, things are more original here. There are relatively few skyscrapers.
In the old town there are many small shops for daily needs and only a few tourists. You can take a nice walk on the beach.
The cuisine of the United Arab Emirates
Unfortunately, it is not that easy to find "local food" in the UAE. Maybe that's because the UAE are a melting pot of cultures. Less than 20% of the 11 million inhabitants are Emirates, the others are immigrants, mostly from India, Pakistan, Egypt, Indonesia or the Philippines. In addition, more and more tourists come from all over the world.
Thus, in the shopping malls there are many international (fast-food) restaurants. You will find burgers, pizza, sushi, cakes, sandwiches etc. Indian restaurants can also be found on every corner.
Therefore, I find it quite difficult to say what is the typical UAE cuisine. It is probably dishes, ingredients and spices that are associated with oriental, Turkish, Lebanese or Syrian cuisine.
I personally love e.g. hummus (chickpea paste), especially the version with beetroot. Hummus is served in the UAE any time of the day or night. You can also find a simple and very tasty basic recipe for hummus on my blog here.
Hummus tastes best with fresh Arabic flatbread (khob). Khob is thinner than Turkish flatbread and is also used for Shwarma. Shwarma is also a very well-known and delicious dish in the UAE. It is similar to our kebab or wrap. Marinated and grilled meat (usually chicken) is wrapped in flatbread with fresh salad and sauce and then briefly put on the grill again. I like Shwarma best with a marinade or sauce made with a light note of cinnamon. I could eat it any time of the day or night!
I also recommend the delicious soup made from red or yellow lentils. It is similar to Indian dhal, although the Indian version uses more spices. Even if I am more of a "Soup Kaspar", I liked lentil soup in the UAE a lot.
You should definitely try mutabbal (aubergine puree), labneh (seasoned cream cheese) and of course falaffel (fried chickpea meatballs). The selection of salads is also excellent: Whether it's fresh lettuce, bulgur or couscous salad. They all taste delicious.
Regarding the main courses meat dominates. Well-known and popular is the kebab (grilled meat skewers). Due to the high number of Indian and Pakistani immigrants, Indian dishes such as biryani (spiced rice with meat), dhal (lentil curry), chana masala (chickpea curry), aloo masala (potato curry) and Rogan Josh (lamb curry) can also be found at all meals.
For dessert I liked to try all different types of pudding. Pudding is often prepared with almonds, pistachios, cardamom and rose water.
What didn't convince me at all was the insider tip from the travel guide: chocolate made from camel milk. It is much more expensive than normal chocolate. According to the list of ingredients, however, it only contains camel milk in the form of milk powder (2% - 22%, depending on the type) and in my opinion tastes like cheap chocolate from the discounter.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find camel milk for drinking, even if - according to our travel guide – this milk should be offered in the supermarkets in different flavors.
Breakfast in the United Arab Emirates
Dates are always found on the breakfast table. No wonder, because dates have been the staple food of the Bedouin people for thousands of years.
Hummus, labneh, fresh and crunchy lettuce leaves, parsley (which is not used for decoration but eaten with the meal), cucumber, tomato and cheese are always found on the breakfast table. You will also get fresh flatbread.
If you prefer an Indian breakfast, no problem: chapati (Indian flatbread), dosa (flatbread made from rice flour), kichadi (porridge made from mung beans), pongal (rice and moong dal beans with roasted cashews, almonds and sweet raisins), raita (spiced yoghurt) and various chutneys are always offered.
By chance, doing research on typical food before my vacation, I came across Balaleet, the sweet vermicelli pasta with an egg omelette. But it was not easy at all to find it. In the hotel restaurant I heard: No, we don't have Balaleet sorry. But you can order it from outside and get it brought by the motorized delivery service. I also looked around the food courts of the big shopping malls for Balaleet, but without any success. FinalIy, in Dubai I found Balaleet on the menu of a small an hidden fast food restaurant near the old souk.
As I ordered the dish, the waitress looked amazed and said, sorry, we don't have that (anymore).
I almost believed that my research on Balaleet had been wrong. But then I found Balaleet . Namely in the old town of Raz as Khaimah city. In a small hidden café, I got to try Balaleet finally.
Conclusion: The long search was very worthwhile. Balaleet is a very tasty dish that is not heavy on the stomach. The spices (cardamom, saffron, rose water) give the dish an oriental touch and go perfectly with the lightly sweetened pasta. The slightly salty omelette rounds off the taste perfectly.
Thus: thumbs up! You must try it or cook it by yourself:
For the Noodles:
- 250 g Vermicelli pasta
- 100 g sugar
- 1 tsp. ground cardamom
- 2 pinches Saffron
- 2 tbsp. water
- 1 tsp. rose water
For the omelette:
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- Oil or Ghee/butter for frying
For the Noodles:
- Mix saffron with water.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil or clarified butter/ghee in a large saucepan.
- Add half of the noodles and fry on all sides over medium heat until golden brown. Keep turning the noodles with a spatula.
- Cover the fried noodles with enough water and bring it to boil.
- Add the remaining noodles and cook for about 3 minutes. Stir well. The pasta should be "al dente" and not too soft.
- Drain noodles.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of clarified butter/ghee.
- Add noodles and mix with th melted butter.
- Add suggar, cardamom, saffran water, rose water. Mix well.
- Set aside.
For the omelette:
- Mix eggs and salt.
- Heat some butter/ghee in a pan.
- Bake four omelettes.
- Spread the noodles among four plates. Place a folded omelet on each plate.
- Serve immediately.
If you like this post, I look forward to a rating (star bar) or a nice comment!
Thanks a lot!
Perhaps you would also like to subscribe to my page. If so you will be regularly informed about new posts.