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Top 15 Kuwaiti Foods and Spices

Sakina is a teacher who has lived in Kuwait for 14 years. She writes on food, pets, health, and life.

Kuwaiti cuisine is rich and varied

Kuwaiti cuisine is rich and varied

Kuwaiti Cuisine

Kuwaiti cuisine is a fusion of Arabian, Persian, Indian, and Mediterranean cuisines. I have lived in Kuwait for the past 14 years, and in this article I'm going to talk about some foods and spices that are very popular here. If you visit this country, these are all must-haves.

I will cover these topics:

  • Top 5 Foods
  • Top 5 Types of Dates
  • Top 5 Spices

1. Machboos Dakkus

Machboos dakkus is the traditional dish of Kuwait. Rice is cooked in zafran (saffron) to add a rich, unique flavor to it. It is also sprinkled with generous amounts of split chickpeas and raisins at times. This adds both a crunchy and soft texture to it. Also, the raisins add a slightly sweet taste to every morsel, which makes this dish so delicious and special. The rice is then topped with separately cooked chicken legs or meat. This part is called machboos. Dakkus is a thick tomato gravy or soup (per taste) which is poured on top of the rice, adding a tangy and sweet taste to the whole dish.

If you don't like adding dakkus (tomato gravy) on top of the rice, you can just drink it together with each morsel. All in all, it tastes delicious. This dish is bland, healthy and is filled with abundant flavors.

2. Hammus With Khubz

Khubz is the traditional flatbread of Kuwait. It is made up of wheat flour and then baked at high temperatures. It is soft and fluffy and is stomach-filling. Hammus is a dip made up of mashed chickpeas which are blended with light spices and topped with olive oil. You can also ask for extra toppings like cubed tomatoes, cucumber, makdoonis (parsley) and more olive oil. This dish is healthy, hearty and tastes scrumptious. It is very popular here and people love eating it.

At home, you can add plain chickpeas on top of this dip. You can add vinegar to make it tangy.

Picture of spicy chicken shawarma with French fries, mayonnaise and turshi.

Picture of spicy chicken shawarma with French fries, mayonnaise and turshi.

3. Shawarma

Shawarma is very famous here. You will find so many local food shops selling this delicious food item. It is of two types of meat, chicken, and goat. Basically, a shawarma is a wrap of thinly sliced meat, turshi (pickled cucumber, carrot or turnip) and salad. Chicken and goat meat are grilled separately on vertical spits, which rotate uniformly and heat is supplied continuously. French fries, tomatoes and chopped onions are also added to shawarma at times. Mayonnaise and tomato ketchup are added as sauces. It can be made in so many different ways and each tastes unique and scrumptious.

Kebab served with khubz, roasted tomatoes and capsicum and parsley.

Kebab served with khubz, roasted tomatoes and capsicum and parsley.

4. Kebabs

Kebabs are a must-have if you come to Kuwait. These are packed with flavor and are so moist that you can't help but have more. Both chicken and lamb kebabs are available. The meat is freshly cooked on a grill and is served hot with khubz, French fries, roasted tomatoes or capsicum and makdunis (parsley). You can eat the kebabs separately or with khubz. Both taste great!

While eating kebabs, try taking a morsel wrapped in khubz and dip it in hammus. Trust me, it tastes delicious.

5. Fatayer

Fatayer is a stuffed Arabic bread which is baked. This bread is topped with a generous amount of sesame seeds. It is shaped like triangles or ovals. There are four types.

  • Fatayer iaham: A pizza-like crust is topped with minced meat. It just tastes amazing.
  • Fatayer jiban: This is bread stuffed with cheese. When eaten hot, the cheese just melts in your mouth and the soft bread leaves a heavenly taste. It doesn't require any sauce or condiment.
  • Fatayer leban: This is stuffed bread with cream.
  • Fatayer za'atar: A pizza like crust is topped with generous amounts of zaa'tar and baked. It is served hot and loved by many here.

You can dip a fatayer in tomato ketchup or eat a turshi with it. Both taste great!

In Kuwait, there wouldn't be found a home without dates. This fruit is the staple fruit of the Arabian people, especially those of the Gulf and desert regions. In many of these places, it is the only fruit that grows easily. The date tree is so hearty that it can survive the heat of the summer and still produce its beautiful fruit.

1. Ajwah Dates

Ajwah dates are the most popular among Muslims. They are delightfully soft and fruity, quite dark in color and tend to be a more of a dry variety of date from Saudi Arabia.

2. Barhi Dates

Barhi dates are rare for being tasty in both their yellow, crunchy state and their soft, brown state. They are the perfect definition of "nature's candy".

3. Khalas Dates

Average-sized and reddish dark brown in color, Khalas dates are moist and sticky, having a hearty flavor of butter-caramel.

Halawi dates

Halawi dates

4. Halawi Dates

Halawi dates are soft with a slightly thicker flesh and rich, unique flavor.

5. Mejdool Dates

Medjool dates have a deep brown color with a caramel-like flavor. While holding this date in your hand, you first feel its firm yet wrinkled texture. Yet it is moist despite its appearance.

Table showing the color, texture, and flavor of the five most popular dates in Kuwait.

Type of DateColorTextureFlavor



Soft but tends to be dry



Yellow, brown

Crunchy, soft



Reddish brown

Moist and sticky

Butter caramel



Soft with a thick flesh

Pecan pie


Deep brown

Wrinkled yet moist




1. Za'atar

Za'atar is a combination of sesame, sumac, and thyme that tastes nutty and tangy. It is sprinkled a lot on bread or khubz (the flatbread eaten by Kuwaitis) which are baked and enjoyed by Arabs.

Fenugreek seeds

Fenugreek seeds

2. Fenugreek

Fenugreek, famous for their nutty taste, is popular as a cooking spice and has been used in folk medicine for almost as long.

Black caraway seeds are known as habba souda in Kuwait.

Black caraway seeds are known as habba souda in Kuwait.

3. Black Caraway Seeds

The black caraway seeds known as habba souda tastes like a combination of onions, black pepper, and oregano. They have a pungent bitter taste and smell.

Zafran (saffron)

Zafran (saffron)

4. Zafran (Saffron)

Saffron, or zafran as it's known in Arabic, is an expensive spice. It has over 150 aromatic compounds contributing to its unique flavor.



5. Turmeric

Turmeric is used as a starter ingredient which has a warm, bitter taste and is frequently used to flavor or color many Arabic dishes.

Top 5 Spices Used in Kuwait

Table showing the flavor and uses of the five most popular spices used in Kuwait.



Nutty and tangy




Cooking and medicine

Black Seeds



Zafran (Saffron)




Warm and bitter


© 2017 Sakina Nasir