Bahrain: Exploring Authentic Local Cuisine and Traditional Recipes

Bahrain: Exploring Authentic Local Cuisine and Traditional Recipes

Bahrain: Exploring Authentic Local Cuisine and Traditional Recipes

Welcome to Bahrain!

Bahrain, a beautiful island country in the Arabian Gulf, offers a vibrant culinary scene that reflects its rich history and diverse culture. As an expert in geography and world cuisine, I invite you to explore the authentic local cuisine and traditional recipes of Bahrain. From delicious street food to fine dining experiences, this guide will take you on a gastronomic journey through the flavors of Bahrain.

Traditional Bahraini Dishes

Bahraini cuisine is a delightful blend of Arabian, Persian, Indian, and Mediterranean flavors. Here are some traditional dishes you must try:

  • Machboos: A spiced rice dish prepared with meat (usually chicken or lamb), tomatoes, and a blend of aromatic spices. It is often garnished with fried onions and served with a side of tangy daqoos sauce.
  • Harees: A hearty porridge made from wheat and meat, usually chicken or lamb. This dish is slow-cooked to perfection, resulting in a creamy and comforting texture.
  • Meshawi: Succulent grilled meat skewers, commonly made with marinated chicken or lamb. The meat is tender and flavorful, and it pairs perfectly with a side of freshly baked Arabic bread.
  • Samboosa: These deep-fried pastry triangles are filled with either savory or sweet fillings. The savory samboosa is usually stuffed with spiced minced meat or vegetables, while the sweet version often contains a delicious combination of nuts, honey, and spices.
  • Mahyawa: A traditional Bahraini condiment made from fermented fish. Although its smell may be strong, it adds a unique flavor to various seafood dishes.

Restaurants Serving Authentic Bahraini Cuisine

When in Bahrain, be sure to visit these restaurants for an immersive dining experience:

  1. Saffron by Jena Bakery - Offering a modern twist on Bahraini classics, this restaurant provides a unique fusion of traditional and contemporary flavors. Don't miss their innovative Machboos variations.
  2. Al Abraaj - Known for its welcoming ambiance and authentic Bahraini dishes, Al Abraaj is a must-visit for those seeking a traditional culinary experience. Indulge in their delicious Harees and Meshawi.
  3. Bahraini Breakfast at Bab Al Bahrain - Start your day with a traditional Bahraini breakfast at Bab Al Bahrain, a vibrant market area known for its street food. Try their freshly baked bread, accompanied by local cheese, honey, and traditional dips.
  4. Al Bindaira Café - If you're in the mood for a delicious cup of karak tea, head to Al Bindaira Café. This cozy spot also serves traditional Bahraini snacks like samboosa and luqaimat (sweet dumplings).
  5. The Yellow Chilli - Led by renowned Indian chef Sanjeev Kapoor, The Yellow Chilli offers an exciting fusion of Bahraini and Indian flavors. Try their signature Bahraini Fish Curry for a delightful taste of the island's seafood.

Exploring Bahraini Street Food

Bahrain is famous for its vibrant street food scene. Here are some must-try street food delights:

  1. Shawarma - Indulge in a classic Arabic wrap filled with flavorful sliced meat, pickles, and sauces.
  2. Foul - Enjoy a traditional Bahraini breakfast staple consisting of fava beans cooked with garlic, lemon juice, and spices.
  3. Katayef - These sweet stuffed pancakes are a favorite during the holy month of Ramadan. They are filled with nuts or sweet cheese and soaked in a rosewater syrup.
  4. Manakish - Similar to pizza, Manakish is a flatbread topped with a variety of delicious ingredients such as za'atar, cheese, or minced meat.

Traditional Bahraini Recipes to Try at Home

If you'd like to recreate the flavors of Bahrain in your own kitchen, here are a couple of traditional Bahraini recipes to try:

Machboos Recipe


  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 500g bone-in chicken or lamb, cut into pieces
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Baharat spice blend (a mixture of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and nutmeg)
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil


1. In a large pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Sauté the onions until golden brown, then add the minced garlic and cook for another minute.

2. Add the chicken or lamb pieces to the pot and cook until browned on all sides.

3. Stir in the Baharat spice blend, turmeric powder, salt, and pepper. Cook for a few minutes to release the flavors.

4. Add the diced tomatoes and cook until they start to soften.

5. Rinse the basmati rice under cold water, then add it to the pot along with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil.

6. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let the rice simmer until tender and all the water is absorbed (about 20-25 minutes).

7. Fluff the rice with a fork, and your Machboos is ready to be served!

Discover Bahrain's Culinary Treasures

From traditional dishes to street food delights, Bahrain's culinary treasures will leave you craving for more. Immerse yourself in the vibrant flavors of Bahrain, and don't forget to try the local cuisine during your visit. Bon appétit!