Ramadhan spurs urge for traditional delicacies

SALALAH, May 23 – Food and festivity go together. So is people’s love for traditional food. Ramadhan is the best time to get home-made traditional food, which are pure, delicious and easily digestible. It is a good time also for the children to develop taste for such food, which are made with ingredients that prevent the body from dehydration.
Due to festivity engrained with purity during Ramadhan, the traditional food tastes original and gets the authentic taste. There are many hotels and restaurants which specialise in traditional Omani food.
Sakhana (a thick sweet soup made of wheat, date, molasses and milk) and Fatta (a meat and vegetable dish, mixed with khubz rakhal (thin Omani bread) made out of unleavened dough, Harees, Mishkak and Shuwa are some dishes which are popular in most of the Omani houses during festivities like Ramadhan and Eid.
Harees is prepared with wheat mixed with meat, Mishkak is skewered meat grilled on charcoal and Shuwa is a typically Omani delicacy prepared only on very special occasions. These three dishes are, however, post-Ramadhan delicacies prepared generally for the first, second and third day of Eid. The holy month is the best time to experience typical Omani food. Mostly traditional dishes are served during iftar.
The whole community participates in Shuwa cooking. The dish consists of a whole cow, goat or camel roasted for up to two days in a special oven prepared in a pit dug in the ground. Shuwa preparation is very elaborate. The cooking time varies from 24 hours to 48 hours and process begins with the meat getting marinated with red pepper, turmeric, coriander, cumin, cardamom, garlic and vinegar. Then it is wrapped with dry banana or palm leaves and put in a ground oven. After the Shuwa is ready, it is distributed among community, family and relatives depending upon the size of the goat, cow or camel.
Among the beverages, kahwa (coffee) — a strong, bitter drink seasoned with cardamom — and laban (salty buttermilk) are popular. Yoghurt drinks that are flavoured with cardamom and pistachio nuts are also very popular.
Lokhemat is another accompaniment to coffee, which are balls of flour and yeast flavoured with cardamom and deep fried until golden then served with a sweet lime and cardamom syrup. The sweetness of this dish often counteracts the bitterness of the kahwa.
Omani Halwa, made from brown sugar, eggs, honey and spices, is one of the popular desserts of Oman. It can be flavoured with many different ingredients such as nuts, rosewater or even chocolate.

Kaushalendra Singh