About the food of Oman

Jabreen castle wall. Photo by Tristan.

Pull up a chair, grab a steaming cup of Kahwa and a few dates. We’re going to Oman, a boomerang shaped country on the edge of the Arabian pennisula.

Kahwa is omani coffee, made with enough sugar for the biggest smile in your heart, a dusting of dreamy cardamom and brittle, sunset-colored strands of saffron. Sip by sip, let the heat soak into your pores as you dream your day away.

Vista of Sur, Oman. Reconstructed 16th century Portuguese forts dot the landscape. Photo by Dan Soley.

If coffee isn’t your preference, perhaps a cold glass of rosewater lemonade [Recipe], or a salty buttermilk drink called laban, or even a creamy yogurt sipper will help you while away the time among the desert dunes. Whatever you choose, just be sure to heed the traffic signs.

Traffic sign in the Oman Dessert. Photo by Franzfoto.

When it comes time to dine, Oman has an astonishing array of rice dishes (anything from steamed rice to pilafs or even mekboos, a.k.a. machboos). We cooked machboos [recipe] last fall and it was so good it actually inspired me to boil my Thanksgiving turkey. While the house smelled like a far away spice shop mixed with down home flavor, I still need to perfect the cooking time.

Wadi Shab is the most beautiful Wadi in Oman and one of the top attractions. Photo by Ian Sewell.

The rice can come with stewed or roast meats, kabobs or even kofta (slender cigars of hand rolled meat) [Recipe]. Because of Oman’s proximity to the coast, fish dishes are also popular, such as Mezroota, made with dried fish, turmeric, citrus, cumin and hot chili pepper.

Oman is well known for frankincense, which is a resin found abundantly in the boswellia trees. You’ve heard about it in incense, but the resin is also used medicinally, in drinks and even in ice cream [Recipe].

Who knew?

Maps and flag courtesy of CIA World Factbook. Photo of children by Mark Hills.


    • Sasha Martin says

      I really didn’t know much either… especially about how beautiful it is!

  1. Brian S. says

    I’ve never been there. The closest I’ve been is Yemen. Also Lamu Island, now part of Kenya but once ruled from Oman. Years ago I met an old guy who worked in Muscat 60 years ago. He said it was a walled city then, totally unchanged from the middle ages. It’s changed a lot since then. In fact, if you were in Muscat today, you could eat here. http://www.pizzamuscat.com

  2. Gwen Larsen says

    This country topic inspired me to unpack another box stored in the garage since our move in July, with a desire to cook our favorite meal from a classic, Bedouin-sty le restaurant in Muskat – the capital of Oman – called Kargeen Caffe. there we sat cross-legged on straw mats over the ground in a simple canvas tent, lit dimly by exotic lanterns.

    This experience of eating with our hands the food which traditionally was reserved for weddings and village celebrations, and lingering over mint tea while “blowing bubbles” of apple-infused smoke from a hooka…made a lasting impression! my favorite dish is Shuwa: a whole cow or goat roasted for up to 48 hours in a special oven prepared in a pit dug in the ground! first marinated in 7 spices, wrapped in sacks made of dry palm leaves then thrown in the pit which is sealed so that no smoke escapes. Accompaniments are Yemeni bread – unlike pita bread & glazed with “gee”, also saffron rice, olive oil & dates.

    while living in Kuwait last year, Oman was our favorite destination for a getaway to a land that has retained its culture & character more than any other Arab centuries. if only they would boycott any/all American franchises!

    • Gwen Larsen says

      Correction, that clarified butter spread on the flat, unleavened breads while hot from the clay oven, is spelled Ghee…the closest thing to it I’ve found in the US is called Sangak bread, available in some Arabic food stores.

    • If only Americans would stop allowing export of industry to third world locations… greed and selfishness are at the bottom of it….under the guise of “helping” economies….US Corporations are too powerful for a small innocent country like Oman to counteract… “We” are destroying whole cultures…

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