Time to indulge in traditional Dhofari food

Kaushalendra Singh –

Amid need for purity in what you eat and ensure proper digestion during Ramadhan, traditional food items come handy for everyone particularly in Dhofar as almost every household engages in making some kind of traditional food items during the holy month.
Aside from being rich in heritage and culture, Dhofar is also wealthy in traditional food with several of the favourites — delectable traditional dishes — are prepared in plenty during this season and on every Eid. This form of festivity keeps the younger generations rooted in their tradition and traditional food. It is general practice in Dhofar among the families to cook something from the list of traditional food items and exchange with their near and dear ones.
Some families form groups and cook together while some make bulk preparations and sell them on a no-profit basis. One such example is Salalah Handicraft Centre on Markaz Muhafadhah Street where women prepare many traditional dishes daily and some volunteers sell them an hour or two before the Iftar time in a makeshift shop close to the Handicraft Centre.
Among popular Omani delicacies available here are Omani tawa bread, Khubus halu, Kaimat with cheese with many other options, Kas Kas, Samboos, Mandaji Suaheli, and Harees.
Abu Bakar Salem Ajbut and his brothers Murshid and Qais take an active part in selling the Dhofari delicacies, which move very fast from the makeshift shop.
“Hardly has it taken one hour to move all the dishes because we have fixed customers. Our quality is known in Salalah as everyone knows that women from our families give importance to purity and quality and we are among very few in Salalah who offer home-made stuff during Ramadhan,” said Qais.
Ramadhan is the time when every Muslim household has plenty of traditional food. The quality and taste of the food vary from one region to another, one country to another. And the reason behind having traditional food during Ramadhan is their purity, easily digestible ingredients and incorporation of food elements that keep an individual hydrate.
The holy month is the best time to experience typical Omani food. Mostly traditional dishes are served during Iftar. The most popular among the traditional foods are 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 also some of the most outstanding delicacies. 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 delicacies respectively served on the first, second and third day of Eid.
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 is 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.
This trend of homemade food during Ramadhan is catching up among young entrepreneurs who are doing food business from their homes and doing delivery. This is a win-win situation for both – the entrepreneurs and the buyers.