Because there is so little agricultural land on the islands, Bahrain produces only a fraction of its own food requirements; its main crops are dates, bananas, citrus fruits, mangoes, pomegranates, tomatoes and cucumbers. The land supports only a few thousand goats, cattle and sheep. Bahrain has to import much of its food. However, the fishing industry provides plenty of fish and shrimps.
Bahrain's traditional food include fish, meat, rice, and dates. One of the most famous Bahraini dishes is machboos, which is made up of meat or fish served with rice. Another known food is muhammar , which is sweet rice served with dates or sugar.
Bahrainis also eat typical Arabic food such as falafel (deep-fried balls of ground chickpeas served in pita bread) and shawarma (lamb or chicken carved from a rotating spit and wrapped in flat bread). Traditional snacks such as small fried potato cakes and sambousas, crispy pastry cases filled with meat, cheese, sugar or nuts, can be bought in the souks (markets).
Another important part of the Bahraini diet is the fresh fish of the Gulf, of which the king is the Hamour (grouper), typically served grilled, fried, or steamed. Other popular local fish include Safi (rabbit fish), Chanad (mackerel), and Sobaity (see bream). Most of the time, fish is eaten with rice. A century of British rule in the Gulf has also made fish and chips popular in Bahrain.
Qoozi (Ghoozi), which is grilled lamb stuffed with rice, boiled eggs, onions and spices. The traditional flatbread is called Khubz. It is a large flatbread baked in a special oven. Numerous Khubz bakeries dot the country.
The drinking of coffee is a traditional part of the Bahraini welcome. Three cupfuls of water and a rounded teaspoon of coffee (gahwa) are poured into a saucepan and then boiled for about two minutes. After adding cardamom and saffron in rosewater, the liquid is poured into a coffee-pot, or dalla. The coffee is left to brew for five or ten minutes before being served in a small cup, or finjan. Courtesy requires guests to accept a second cup if it is offered, but afterwards, the guest may refuse a further serving by shaking the coffee cup from side to side.