Hop on the trend train: how to embrace hygge in the UAE

From home décor to healing meals, you can still hygge in the heat

It’s hard not to notice the recent phenomenon ‘hygge’; having grown rapidly in popularity with an emphasis on an easy, slow-paced lifestyle, warming foods and ultimate comfort. While those of us living in the UAE don’t get to take advantage of snowy weather, crackling fireplaces and winter woolies, there are still a few ways to hop on the trend train: here’s how to incorporate a little Danish ‘cosiness’ into everyday UAE life.

First off, what is it and how do I say it?

Pronounced ‘hoo-ga’, hygge is a Danish notion that represents the happiness in feeling snug. Deriving from the Norwegian term hugga meaning ‘to comfort’ or ‘to console’ (that roughly translates into the English term for ‘hug’) the concept has captivated the world and encouraged us to take time in our day to appreciate the simple things in life. Think enveloping blankets, warming fires and steaming cups of tea, where every item of food or kitchen accessory has it’s own buddy – no cup is without a saucer and no biscuit is without a dainty copper plate to rest upon.

The idea has been called a ‘healthy hedonism’, ‘a practical way of creating sanctuary’ and was even listed by Collins and Oxford dictionaries as the Word of the Year in 2016. However, the trend is seen as more of a philosophical concept than a quick-ditch attempt to bombard your home with scented candles and fleecy throws...but of course, they help.

Sounds fun… what do I need?

  • The right lighting; ditch the brightness for ambient, dimmed lamps and a warming atmosphere.
  • Cosy cushions and blankets – we may be in the UAE but surrounding yourself with comfort with help create an inviting environment.
  • Scented candles.
  • Round kitchenware – the hygge way is all about circles and spheres rather than square tables and pointed edges.
  • Roaring fires are a big part of living the life of hygge but to put a UAE spin on things, why not journey out to the desert and start your own fire in the sand? Sit round on plush coverings whilst roasting marshmallows. Bliss.

What about comfort food?

Chicken and cabbage soup with buttermilk dumplings

Soothing soups are just what the hygge doctor ordered and this offering serves as a hug in a bowl; with the dense dumplings and wholesome flavours, expect a meal that’s good for the soul.

Cinnamon and apple swirls with orange custard

There’s no better heart-warming combination to assuage stress than cinnamon, apple and spice. Enjoy these swirls just like the Danes; with company, cosied up and completely relaxed.

Beef and pearl barley stew with roasted vegetables

Spend a lazy afternoon slow-cooking the beef and watch it satisfyingly simmer until the meat becomes succulent, rich and wholly delicious.

Peanut butter and marshmallow hot chocolate

Peanut butter meets rich and creamy chocolate – is there really any better way to unwind?

Lobster and macaroni gratin

Cheese is the embodiment of comfort food, especially when partnered with the indulgent tastes of lobster.

How can I introduce a little hygge to my weekend?

  • Invite friends and family round for an intimate gathering.
  • Take a camping trip and pack more than just essentials – you want to experience ultimate comfort when gazing up at the starry night. Check out our article for some cool spots in the UAE.
  • Take pleasure in mundane tasks – spend the whole afternoon slow-cooking a meal and involve the family. Let your home sing with rich smells and tasty flavours.
  • Indulge in exercise like yoga or Pilates that forces you to slow down and concentrate on your body and state of mind.
  • Sit round the table and spend the day doing something fun with the kids – we love to give household items a new lease on life.
  • Steal a few moments for yourself; read a book, meditate or simply enjoy some peace and quiet.

If you’re reading this at work, we’re really sorry you’re now obsessing over returning home, cosying up and enjoying some feel-good food. However, if this has you interested in discovering more about Scandi culture, why not start with the cuisine? Here’s how you can create the perfect dinner party with a little taste of Nordic paradise.