DiningA gourmet guide to Kuwait’s traditional dishes

Set in the heart of Arabia, Kuwait’s cuisine draws upon a wealth of influences. Let us introduce the country’s most beloved classics

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From woodfired Iranian flatbread and sophisticated Indian spices to banquets of Mediterranean mezze and slow-cooked, butter-soft lamb, these dishes take an exotic approach to familiar ingredients.

Amazing mezze

One of the most traditional ways to enjoy Kuwaiti cuisine is in a mezze: a smorgasbord of dishes offering a broad variety of local favourites. Creamy hummus, perfectly seasoned falafel, freshly chopped fattoush and savoury stuffed vine leaves are the usual star attractions. Accompany them with creamy shanklish sheep’s cheese rolled into bite-sized morsels and spiced with za’atar, a platter of meaty kibbeh and some crisp spinach and cheese pastries. For an authentic mezze, book a table at Arabesque, where lunch is completed with a uniquely Kuwaiti digestif: saffron tea and a sweet apple shisha.

Mezze dishes in Kuwait

Kabsa made the traditional way

Drawing together fluffy basmati rice, slow-cooked meat and spices in one dish, kabsa, also known as majboos, is an all-time Kuwaiti favourite. It’s the sophisticated combination of flavours that really sets kabsa apart. Cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, pepper, bay leaf and nutmeg are blended to generations-old recipes, sweetened with sultanas and textured with almonds and pine nuts. Having soaked up the medley of flavours on a slow braise, the kabsa is piled high on a sharing platter and served piping hot.

Lamb – a quintessential Kuwaiti classic

Of all the meats, lamb is the most popular in Arabia. In Kuwait, it’s served in a variety of ingenious ways. Mansaf uses jameed, or sheep’s yoghurt, to tenderise and flavour the meat before it’s braised and served upon a bed of flatbread and rice. Kofta is equally popular: lamb mince is seasoned with parsley and spices before being skewered, grilled and served with a fresh tomato sauce and creamy yoghurt. For the quintessential Kuwaiti classic, try Quzi – lamb stuffed with nuts, rice and spices before being slow-cooked and served over rice.

A delicious salad dish

Sparkling-fresh fish

Kuwait’s prime position overlooking the glitter of the Persian Gulf grants access to a bounty of fresh seafood. From squid and snapper to shrimps and seabass, Kuwait’s catch of the day is a regular feature on its menus. Choose a mixed seafood grill at Salt in Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel & Spa for a generous selection of the country’s natural bounty. Each dish is served with elegant finesse beneath the ambient glow of Champagne chandeliers, making it a very elegant choice for a special occasion.

Seafood served in Kuwait

Delicious and decadent desserts

Saffron, cinnamon, cardamom and rosewater are the ingredients that give Kuwaiti desserts their subtle sweet fragrance. Perfume cake, also known as Gers Ogaily, combines all these in a delicate sugared sponge. Elsewhere, discover crisp pastries served with rosewater-scented cream in Umm Ali, and creamy Lebanese pudding laced with fruit and honey in Layale Lubnan, both of which are served at Arabesque.

Stay at Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel & Spa to explore Kuwait’s unique culinary landscape. With seven dining options, there are plenty of local and international dishes to enjoy.