Omani sweets: A taste of joy in Eid

ZAINAB AL NASSRI –
Approaching the end of the holy month, people in Oman are almost ready for Eid alFitr, an important Islamic holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide marking the end of Ramadhan.
Preparing local sweets and candies for Eid is as important as the occasion itself because that expresses true Omani hospitality and generosity.
As Eid is celebrated by gathering with friends and family, women in every house compete to serve their guests with famous Omani sweet delicacies and toffees.
Omani halwa, a delicious popular desert and a symbol of traditional Omani hospitality, has a strong presence in Eid. It is made from starch, eggs, sugar, water, ghee, saffron, cardamom, nuts and rose water. After the ingredients are mixed, in proportions and quantities known only to the skilled halwa maker, they are cooked in a large cooking pot used especially for halwa for at least 2 hours. It is usually served with Omani coffee.
Other famous Eid sweets are Guraibia, keshat, semesmia, ein al jamal, halawt alnarjeel, and mahooh.
Kanafa is another type of dessert which consists of “string” pastry, butter, cream, nut, cardamom, syrup, lemon juice, sugar, water, and cinnamon.
There is also Juz al hind cake which is made of flour, farina, suager, baking powder, desiccated coconut, eggs, milk, and vanilla or pineapple flavoring.
Interestingly, there is an American recipe which is loved by the Omanis and this is fruit crisp with apples or pears, raisins, ground cinnamon, sugar, rolled oats, butter or margarine, white flour, nuts or coconut, and vanilla ice cream.
All these puddings take their place on the Omani table besides other main dishes like arsia, harres, qabooli and briyani. Because of the strong turnout on those sweets, some passionate Omani women turn it to a business. Their skills in preparing sweets and candies attract many aesthetes to them. Eid toffees are no available in stores and with known local brands. The difference between those made in home and those in stores is the latter being decorated and presented beautifully.