The small, coastal Sultanate of Oman lies just south of the skyscrapers of Dubai, just east of the Empty Quarter of Saudi Arabia, and just across the Persian Gulf from the ancient civilizations of Iran and India. About the size of Kansas, Oman is home to towering mountain ranges, vast deserts, and around 2,000 miles of fertile coastline. The story of Oman, its people, and their cuisine is inexorably linked to the sea, not only for the bounty of food it provides, but, more importantly, for the trade routes it supplied between Oman and the rest of the ancient world.
With influences from sub continent, Persian, North African and Mediterranean cuisines, Omani food is a delicious fusion of spices, marinades and herbs. Chicken, lamb and rice are staples here, seasoned with ingredients like saffron, ginger and nutmeg, giving it flavour like no other! Due to its long coastline bordering the Arabian Sea, all kinds of seafood are consumed and shark is a delicacy!
Food from Oman differs from other food in the Arabian Peninsula, as it is less spicy and seldom served warm. Here is a list of the most delicious and traditional Omani food!
Shuwa is considered by many to be the national dish of Oman. Typically only served for special occasions, like weddings or the Eid holidays, this time-intensive dish is prepared by slathering meat (beef, lamb, goat, or even camel) with a mixture of oil and dark spices, like hot chilies, cloves, coriander, cardamom, black pepper, and cumin. The meat is wrapped in banana leaves and stuffed into a bag made of woven palm branches, which is then placed into an underground pit over hot embers, where it smokes and cooks for at least 24 hours.
This dish is also known as Kabsa. This dish is rice mixed with saffron cooked with spicy red or white meat. In Oman and is almost always served at special occasions like weddings and engagements. The two main ingredients that make the dish are saffron and cardamom. The meat is cooked first, with onion and garlic, while the other spices are added later. The rice is cooked separately and mixed with the meat, which turns it yellow and creamy.
Casual grilled foods are staples of beachfront and mountainside Omani barbecues and picnics, family pastimes enjoyed almost every weekend when the weather is nice and cool. The rich smell of grilling meat hangs thick in the air. There may be seafood or chicken on some grills, but most are cooking the Omani barbecue known as mishkak. These cubes of meat (lamb, goat, or, usually, beef) are seasoned with a heady mixture of cardamom, black pepper, salt, clove, and cinnamon and layered with a piece of fat, then skewered on a stick and grilled. The skewers can be eaten as is or dunked in a spicy, sour tamarind sauce. The exotic blend of spices on this humble street-food dish reflects the country’s longtime access to goods from around the world.
There are several types of Omani breads. One of them is thick and has a large circular shape. Another is crisp and thin, and is the size of a small circular dinner plate. Most Omanis make their own bread at home, and obviously there are bakeries too, bread is also popular in restaurants to be served alongside meals.
Kahwa means coffee in Arabic. It is famed for its taste and texture, also how it is grown, dried and prepared. Omani kahwa is usually mixed with cardamom powder. Just like dates, it is an essential part of the Omani hospitality and is served with the Omani Halwa (dessert) as well. Most Omanis drink kahwa several times during their day. They also prepare pots and sometimes take them when visiting neighbors.
Halwa means dessert in Arabic. However, Halwa is also the name given to the most famous Omani sweets. It has a strong texture that is thicker than custard. Although Halwa is brown-colored, there is no chocolate used in its preparation. Omani Halwa consists of sugar, honey, rose water, eggs, several Omani spices and nuts. It is usually served with kahwa and dates. Omanis present it on one big plate with several spoons so that guests and visitors can share in the deliciousness.
Laban means sour milk in Arabic. The Omani Laban is made of yoghurt and buttermilk. It is a salty drink that is served everywhere in Oman and is usually flavored with cardamom, mint or cumin.
Harees, is another unique Omani traditional dish that is usually cooked for special occasions. It is made from wheat mixed with meat, and is usually served with special sauce.
An interesting Omani dish is thareed, a dish of bread cooked with sauce to become a very thick sticky porridge like consistency and mixed with fish. It is extremely heavy, but quite good.
Omani Pudding is a sweet soft dessert made with butter, milk, vanilla powder, eggs, nuts, pistachios, sweetened condensed milk, almonds and lemon zest. It is usually yellow or beige and is garnished with nuts on top.
One of the wonders of the unique Omani culture is the exceptional mouthwatering traditional cuisine and we have mentioned few of them.