Get to the source at Dubai’s souksDeira, Dubai
If you want to get to know the real Dubai – the Old Dubai, with its bustling back streets, souks teeming with fragrant spices, textiles and food from Arabic, Indian and Iranian traditions – you must jump aboard the Frying Pan Adventures Souks Food Walk.
The walk begins at Deira, where your guides will lead you into the heart of the spice souk with its sensory overload of shouts, sights and smells. You’ll be plied with information on the medicinal qualities of turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin and the most prized spice of all, saffron.
Venture away from the throngs of tourists and into the warren of alleyways to tiny eateries frequented by locals. You’ll sample parotta (flaky flatbread from Kerala) filled with egg and melted cheese, and chips with daqoos (vinegary hot sauce). At other pit stops feast on Emirati snacks and Iranian kebabs. It’s all so moreish, but there is more to come so pace yourself.
You’ll take an abra (Dubai’s oldest form of water transportation) across the creek to Little India with its Ganesh statues, brightly coloured flower garlands and sweet rose incense. Snaking through alleyways, you’ll arrive at the tour’s piece de resistance, the Arabian Tea House, located in the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood.
The tea house is a step back in time, with its turquoise benches, white rattan chairs, lace curtains and bountiful flowers in an open-air setting. This is the place to taste Emirate food. Begin with mint tea then move on to cheese samboosa with tamarind dip, falafel with tahini, fatoush salad, chicken machos (cooked Emirati style) and rice pilaf with loomi (dried limes). It's all wholesome, homely, authentic and delicious.
The 4.5-hour Dubai Souks and Creekside Food Walk with Frying Pan Adventures runs regularly from October to April and May to September. It costs US$115 a person.