There’s a plethora of Hollywood films featuring Dubai as a global city. A quick preview of these movies would show towering skyscrapers, luxury shopping malls, and white sand beaches scattered across the metro. But underneath the face of a lavish and flashy city lies something that is not often seen on the big screen — its food scene.

Known as the melting pot of cultures in the UAE, Dubai is home to more than 150 nationalities. No wonder the city’s food landscape is a tapestry of flavors, made by its residents from many parts of the world. With a sizable number of Filipinos in the UAE, especially in Dubai, it is no surprise that Philippine cuisine has made its way sharing its influence with the Middle Eastern way of cooking, even spurring a trend among several upscale restaurants in the city.

Here are some notable dishes born out of that gastronomic fusion:



1. Chicken Adobo Biryani

Arguably the most popular dish in Philippine cuisine, Adobo usually includes chicken or pork, or both, marinated in a mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, and other spices. This concoction, once braised, gives a tinge of sweet and savory flavor. But this classic dish meets a playful twist in the heart of the Middle East. Infused with the region’s flavorful spices like saffron, cumin, and turmeric, then mixed on a plate of basmati rice, the typical Adobo recipe is taken to a whole new level.

This fusion dish is rich in aroma and flavor, encapsulating the traditional Adobo recipe complemented by the aroma and spice of Biryani. You can elevate this culinary experience with Mama Sita’s Adobo Mix and Adobo Marinade or spice up with their long line of cooking sauces, all carefully crafted in Halal and FSSC-certified facilities.



2. Tapa Shawarma

A Filipino breakfast staple, Tapa is beef that has gone through a preservation process that typically involves curing or smoking. It is usually pan-fried or grilled and paired with rice and egg, a delight to the senses for its savory and garlicky flavor coupled with a hint of sweetness. On the other side of the table is shawarma, a popular Middle Eastern street food known for its rich flavor profile. Shawarma is made from meat marinated in appetizing seasonings and spices such as turmeric, cumin, and paprika. Carved in thin slices, it is usually served in a pita wrap complemented by an array of veggies and spices.

Although tapa and shawarma both merit a nod on their own, a fusion between these two dishes will surely hit the spot. A tender, marinated beef paired with shawarma rice tossed with garlic, peas, and carrots, mixed in with seasoning, is definitely a unique gastronomic experience. Try making this fusion dish using Mega Prime Choices’ HALAL-certified Oyster Sauce.



3. Sweet Baklava

Baklava is a Turkish, flaky pastry made from layers of phyllo dough, mixed with walnuts and cinnamon drizzled with honey on top. This after-dinner relish will leave a sweet tooth craving for more. So what is left to be done? Give the dessert an extra Filipino twist.

Adding depth to this traditional Middle Eastern dessert is desiccated coconut sprinkled on top. This element creates an extra layer of flavor, taking one into a mouthwatering experience. Make your own version of this sweet treat and add a little dash of love by using desiccated coconut from Century Pacific Food, Inc.



Taste Discoveries

These trends extending across boundaries — creating culinary fusion — are inevitable especially when people of different nationalities share a common goal of moving their respective food culture forward.

Exemplifying this was the recently concluded Gulfood, to which FOODPhilippines has participated. Known as the world’s biggest annual trade show for food and beverage (F&B), Gulfood is a gathering of leading F&B brands from more than 120 countries across the globe. Apart from the opportunity to do business with industry movers, trade shows such as these provide the avenue to showcase one’s rich and vibrant food landscape.

For its part, the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) — the export promotions arm of the Department of Trade and Industry — is also set to hold IFEX Philippines, the country’s biggest international trade show for food and ingredients, on May 10-12, 2024 at the World Trade Center Metro Manila in Pasay City, Philippines. For more information, visit