Trade and fusion had been a part of the culture of Oman for centuries, and Omani food has been directly influenced by this. You’ll find spices from India and East Africa throughout Omani cuisine, creating a unique dish that is an exquisite blend of spices, herbs and flavour that truly warms your heart, soul and stomach. Here are some of the local delicacies that you shouldn’t miss!
A favourite dish in Oman, Shuwa is grilled meat that is often cooked for special occasions like Eid. Shuwa is marinated in Omani spices, then wrapped in banana or palm leaves and put in an underground sand oven where it gets cooked over one to two days. Once the meat is taken out of the ground, it is tender with a layer of crispy spices around it. It is served with rice and tomato sauce.
Harees is a porridge-like dish made from wheat and ghee, mixed in with some type of meat (often chicken). The word Harees comes from the Arabic harasaor even older, the Akkadian ‘harasu,’ which refers to the mashing of meat with barley or shelled whole grains of wheat. The bone-in meat is often first cooked separately before combining with the starch, de-boned and then rhythmically pounded into a smooth paste. It is undoubtedly one of the most ancient and popular iftar dishes across the Gulf countries during Ramadan.
Originally from Yemen, makbous is a dish of rice, meat, and vegetables, all seasoned with spices, and often served on a communal tray to eat together. 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. In most occasions, the dish is served with either yoghurt or green salad, traditional bread and tomato sauce.
The seafood caught off the shores of the Sultanate was also preserved. Shark and fish were salted and cured, then rehydrated with lime and onion for dishes called awa’al and malleh, which remain popular in Muscat to this day.
Omani paplou soup is a fish or seafood soup. It is often made with tuna and tuna roe, however shellfish and other types of fish can also be used. This dish is loved in the coastal regions of Oman. It has a wonderful citrus flavor that counterbalances the heat along with a wonderful paste made from garlic, ginger and cilantro. The soup is served over a heap of basmati rice and garnished with cilantro and lime wedges.
Although Oman might not be famous for street food, mishkak — skewers of marinated grilled meat and seafood are famous and loved by locals and others visiting here. The meat is marinated in a garlic, ginger, and spices, and then grilled over flaming hot charcoal. Mishkak is eaten with spicy chili sauce or tamarind sauce.