Cumin-crusted Yemeni Haneeth in a Saudi-born Restaurant with a Spanish Name…in Dubai.


The first time I saw Cabrito was last November. It didn’t have a name at the time. It was all boarded up and under construction. And it lay on the head-smackingly dismal and dusty road near Mall of the Emirates in Barsha.

The next time I saw Cabrito was standing right under their blatantly non-vegetarian signboard, all ready to step in and finally get a taste.

Cabrito Restaurant - Barsha Dubai

(Didi and Varshik, thanks for being my Barsha-eyes.)

Cabrito, contrary to its name, is not Mexican or Argentinian. The origins of the place are grounded in the Arabian peninsula. The concept first opened up branches in Saudi, and it serves up the usual Yemeni/Bedouin suspects including Mandi, Madhbi and Madfoon. And some incredible cumin-crusted lamb shoulder that deserves serious tummy lust from any lamb-lover who finds themselves hungry within 50 kilometres of Barsha.

Lamb Shoulder Haneeth - Cabrito Restaurant - Barsha Dubai

What chicken Mandi is to Crêpe, my Haneeth lamb was to Baklava. Multi-layered, texturally intriguing, deeply flavourful, sigh-inducing. This meaty baby had been baked up in what the hostess claimed was a ‘special oven,’ and it emerged with caramelized finesse. The burnished cumin crust on the outside was stretched taut in places, folded up thickly in others, and then tore apart right around the oval swells of muscular meat right around the shoulder joint. As we dug past the crust and into the meaty innards, we came away with spoonfuls (fistfuls) of tender lamb that were fleshy, savoury, and deeply reminiscent of a sheep farm in a down-to-earth, elemental way.

Lamb Shoulder Haneeth - Cabrito Restaurant - Barsha Dubai

I could have sworn that there was a layer of freshly ground black pepper on top, but turns out, it was just a mono-spiced crust of fragrant cumin. It was the sort of minimalist approach that you’d expect from a chef who’s confident about his technique and quality of lamb. No pile-on of spices to confuse the diner, this lamb was daringly simple.

The massive shoulder was swaddled in a subcutaneous layer of fat that had done good things for the meat, including: (1) plugging away all those tricky spots where meaty juices could stealthily creep out, (2) acting as the natural base to caramelize and crisp up the outer skin that was draped over it, and (3) rendering itself soft and buttery so that you could either savour it or peel it away discreetly and just enjoy the fleshy contents beneath.

Now read this next line very, very closely. The menu only mentions haneeth (priced at AED 60), and gives you the option of choosing either the shoulder or the ribs. This is actually Mutton haneeth. What the menu will not tell you is that for an additional AED 15, you can sub out mutton with tender young lamb instead – and this is exactly what you should do. In the words of Russell Peter, Be a Man. DO THE RIGHT THING.

Russell Peters

Source: Schema Magazine

If you can look past the haneeth, the restaurant also does credit to its intro soup, a clear stock soup that tastes almost exactly like home-style bone soup. It’s got the sort of soul-curing depths of clear meaty broth flavour that can make you smile, sing, purr. Whatever rocks your boat.

Soup - Cabrito Restaurant - Barsha Dubai

The side tomato sauce was a fresh tomato salsa that seemed like the whizz kid of a food processor. It was a light, refreshing splash-on to the rice and meat meal, a hearty  rib-sticking meal that is effectively going to stare in the face at any post-lunch attempt to work productively, and laugh so hysterically that the attempt will feel sheepish and run away.

Testament to lack of productivity after face-stuffing at Cabrito: Disturbing behaviours that involve giggling (without appropriate cause), stretching (multiple successive times in repeated sleepy yet spastic movements), and uncontrollably excessive tummy-patting. 

Cabrito Restaurant - Barsha Dubai

Here’s a little head-nod to the chicken mandi that was brought out on the table.

Chicken Mandi - Cabrito Restaurant - Barsha Dubai

And with that, I’m done talking about it.

Cabrito will also serve…well, Cabrito—a whole roasted goat kid which is actually a Mexican or Argentinian speciality (Cabrito means ‘kid,’ as in goatling, in Spanish). But given that goats are Old World animals and that the Americas only got their hands on the bleating babies after Christopher Columbus shuttled the lot across the oceans (in 1493)*, I wouldn’t be surprised if Arabia had this kid-roasting technique down way before the South Americans did. And since we’re on the topic of South Americans, I reckon it would be quite interesting to do a totally unfair and over-simplified comparison between Cabrito’s 60-dirham Cabrito and Asado’s 210-dirham Cabrito served at The Palace near the Burj Khalifa.

If the Haneeth is anything to go by, the Cabrito might turn out to be quite a superstar too. We were told that the restaurant is awaiting their special Cabrito chef, a simple fact that has left my hopes unrealistically high for a dish I’ve yet to taste.

I’m not sure I’d drive out all the way for the mandi, and the cabrito jury is out for now. But that haneeth is a different story. That right there is a dish that’s definitely worth hunting down in the most dismal, dozer-overrun, dusty parts of Barsha.

 Cabrito Restaurant - Barsha Dubai

*Cuisine and Culture: A History of Food and People: Linda Civitello.

Cabrito Restaurant
Telephone: +971 (4) 452-0255
Umm Suqueim Road, going towards Al Khail. Cross the Lulu Hypermarket to your right, pass the first traffic light after Lulu, then take your second right into the side lane and drive around in weird unhelpful circles until you finally get frustrated, curse all the construction, and dredge out the last vestige of energy you’ve got left to start hunting all over again. At some point, you will emerge out on the lane facing Cabrito, and the cumin lamb haneeth will make your life good again.
Here’s my google map for directions – subject to change based on construction.


Author: InaFryingPan

With a family legacy of ingenious cooks, a nutritionist and chef-extraordinaire mother, and a father who introduced me to steak and caviar when I could barely reach the table, I had no choice but to acquire a keen awareness of food during my childhood years in Dubai. But it was only after I found myself on a college campus in Philadelphia – far away from home, too cheap as a student to spend on anything other than pizza, and with dorm rooms that had little rat-holes of kitchens if they even had them at all – when I developed a heightened appreciation of food. An appreciation of food that I once ate every night at the dinner table in Dubai, but that was now an entire ocean away. I lusted for the culinary treasures that lay outside the stale walls of my college dining hall, hijacked friends’ kitchens to try my hand at something, anything , remotely edible, and greedily raided different websites in search of highly-rated restaurants. With my move to New York to work for a consulting firm that secretly harbored self-professed foodies, my appreciation transformed into a passion, an addicition. I felt like everyone around me in New York was talking about food: where to get the best cupcakes, pizza slices, banh mi, kati rolls, pho, fried chicken, and every other food item out there that is just a plain old dish in some part of the world, but that’s become hyped to unforeseen proportions in New York. What fuelled my addiction over time was travel to different cities, both for work and play, which gave me unfettered access to the culinary havens of not only New York, but also of DC, Virginia, Chicago, Houston, Vegas, Austin, Seattle and even a little city called Bentonville (Arkansas!). After 9 years away from home, I’ve finally taken the leap to come back to Dubai – with not just an awareness, but genuine appreciation and passionate addiction for what I’d taken for granted as a child. Mom, I’m back to reclaim my seat at your dinner table, and to rediscover this city with its ever-expanding menu of international flavors.

6 thoughts on “Cumin-crusted Yemeni Haneeth in a Saudi-born Restaurant with a Spanish Name…in Dubai.

  1. Didi says:


    So funny because they told us that they were waiting for the equipment to be installed. And here they go telling you that they are waiting for the Cabrito chef. Hehehe! Inshallah they get whatever done sooner than later :)

    I will miss all of this!!!!!! :(


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