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The essence of Emirati cooking

The Great Food Club brings you the secrets of Emirati cooking….

How many times have you tucked into delicious local food – such as Emirati chicken or lamb biryani, and loved it? But when you try to cook it at home, it lacks a certain something?

Well, that something is probably bezar – described as the “very essence of Arabian cooking…”

It’s basically a mixture of roasted, pounded spices.

The below recipe is taken from Celia Ann Brock-Al Ansari’s “The Complete UAE Cookbook” published for Emirates airline in 1994.

Once the bezar has been prepared,  it can be kept in an airtight container and will remain fresh for up to ten months.

You can, of course, buy ready-made bezar in the supermarkets. Look for ‘Arabic masala mix’.

The green package available in supermarkets is supposed to be mildly flavoured (Bedouin style), while the red package is regular flavour (coastal urban style).


  • 1 cup cumin seeds (whole)
  • 1 cup fennel seeds (whole)
  • 1 cup cinnamon sticks
  • 1 cup coriander seeds (whole)
  • 1/2 cup peppercorns (whole)
  • 1/4 cup dried red chillies (whole)
  • 1/2 cup turmeric powder


  • Put cumin, fennel, cinnamon, coriander, peppercorns and dried chillies into a frying pan and roast over a low heat,
  • Stir continuously, until the spices turn golden.
  • Remove from heat, grind in a blender and keep in an airtight container.

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