One of the great things about traveling is the ability to experience cuisines and flavors that may be radically different from what you’re used to. Sometimes you get to taste things you’ve never considered trying, like a humped even-toed ungulate. Sounds exotic! But one person’s exotic is another’s staple, so we decided to “when-in-Rome-it-up” and give camel a try.
It’s common in the Arab gulf to consume camel products, be it meat or milk. Given that most Americans have probably never tried the milk of anything other than a cow, it is to be expected that camel’s milk is an acquired taste. In the Emirates, brands like Al Nassma do a fine job of complimenting the milk in their chocolate products, creating luscious chocolates that really take advantage of the milk’s higher fat content. Speaking from experience, they make a great gift (the macadamia-orange is exceptionally delicious) if you’re looking to give friends a taste of Dubai.
Moving on to the main feature, camel meat, to our surprise, was delicious. During our stay in Dubai we got to taste two camel burgers: one at Switch in Dubai Mall and another at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi.
Switch serves up their burger on a brioche-like bun with classic toppings of cheese and pickles. It goes great with the truffle parmesan fries as a side.
The Emirates Palace kicks it up a notch. A 24K gold sprinkling dusts a lean, thick cut of camel meat topped with mustard and onions. The burger is served with Arabic pickles and tabbouleh, alongside the creamiest chickpea fritters. We also had to give the 24K gold sweet potato fries a try (#noshame).
In comparison, we gave both an equal score on the finger-licking scale. Switch served a juicier, fattier patty, packing more umami-punches with the added cheese and rich bun. With a light seasoning and dressing, the Emirates Palace let the lean meat speak for itself—it still spoke beautifully. Camel meat doesn’t taste too differently from beef or venison. As a burger, it is remarkably tender, and carries stronger currents of flavor compared to a beef patty.
If you end up at the Emirates Palace, get a taste of camel milk with their Camelchino. If that isn’t your thing, try the Emirates Palace 24K gold Cappuccino.