Emirati food might soon be available on a street near your home via Meylas, a first-of-its-kind mobile van serving Emirati cuisine at pop-up locations throughout the capital.
The Emirati Shaikha Al Kaabi, who was born and raised in Abu Dhabi, came up with the food truck as a way to expose more people to the flavours of the country. The truck has also served as a preview of Al Kaabi’s forthcoming Emirati restaurant, also called Meylas (the word is a local expression for majlis), which is set to open its doors in Al Muneera by the end of the month.
“I’m proud of our food,” says Al Kaabi. “I want people to try authentic Emirati food. I want to teach people about our food and our culture. It’s rich with flavours. It’s not just hummus and tabbouleh. People have the wrong idea.”
Meylas’ menu is filled with traditional recipes from Emirati mothers and grandmothers. Dishes include legimat (sweet, fried dumplings similar to Indian gulgula), batheetha (a traditional dessert made with date paste, flour and ghee), rgaag sandwiches (rgaag is thin, light, crispy bread) and khameer (Emirati bread often eaten with honey and cheese).
Al Kaabi says her passion for food and pride for her country have fuelled her ambitions. “I’m serious about Emirati food,” Al Kaabi says. “I want to take Emirati food to the next level.” That next level includes giving Emirati food a modern twist. She plans to offer gluten-free Emirati dishes as well as dishes that work with the popular paleo diet (also known as the caveman diet). She also sources all of her ingredients locally. “The only thing that’s not local is the truck; no one knows how to fit out a food truck here.”
Meylas food truck is expected to be a regular feature at cultural, social and national events around the country. Al Kaabi says: “We have lots of events here and we want to get our food out there. That’s the idea behind it.” Since its debut at Abu Dhabi Art in early November, Meylas has popped up for National Day celebrations at Adnoc, twofour54 Abu Dhabi and Masdar City.
To track Meylas food truck, follow it on Instagram: @meylas. Meylas restaurant is due to open in Al Raha Beach, Al Muneera, opposite the Etihad Plaza complex. Visit www.meylas.com