For visitors who do not know what to expect from Oman cuisine, expect delicious, succulent chicken, mutton, fish, marmalades and chutneys. Herbs and spices, mingling together, creating unexpected and intriguing flavors. Blending tastes of the Middle and Far East and Africa, Muscat offers a wonderful treat for the palette. With bursts of flavor, the cuisine is mild enough for most tastes without being dull or boring.
If there is one factor that ties all Muscat cuisine together it is that the dishes tend to be both very healthy and very fresh. Salads and soups are popular, and these are made with locally grown vegetables. For variety and interest, smoked eggplant, fresh tuna fish, and delicate watercress are incorporated. Many dishes are based around rice and feature wonderfully healthy, nutty lentils or lean meat, chicken, and fish. A favorite dish of the Muscat people is Mashuai; a kingfish is roasted on a spit and served with delicious lemon rice. The mix of flavors and textures is mouth-watering.
A staple of Muscat cuisine is rice; visitors may not realize the wide range of tastes possible from this one simple ingredient. From plain steamed rice (which is wonderful with spicy curried vegetables and meats) to dishes like Maqbous, rice layered with saffron and cooked with spicy meat, rice is never just a side dish – it is an important component of many meals. It is the same way with bread. This very simple food is expertly flavored with garlic, sesame, thyme, or dates to give it new life and to make it the perfect accompaniment to any meal. In fact, a thin, round bread called Rukhal, which is made over the fire of palm leaves, makes a very nice breakfast when served with local Omani honey. It is also wonderful as a sort of crouton over spicy curry. Rices and breads, which many visitors may not normally pay attention to, suddenly become a delicious focus.
Omanis observe the old adage: eat like a king at lunch and a pauper at dinner. The main meal of the day is usually served at midday. It is at this midday feast when you will sample Muscat treats like Maqbous or, on special occasions, Arisa. Wonderful, juicy lamb, cooked with mashed rice, or perhaps some spiced meat, skewered and grilled to perfection. And if you want to experience Omani cuisine at its best – and who doesn’t? – you must visit this beautiful city during Ramadan. While that may sound odd – after all, isn’t Ramadan a month of fasting? – it is when Omanis pull out all the stops and serve up their most popular and delectable dishes.
One dish that is only prepared on the most special of occasions is Shuwa. This is as much about community as it about food; in this region, entire villages gather to cook Shuwa. It is either a whole cow or goat that is marinated in red pepper, coriander, cumin, turmeric, cardamom, garlic, and vinegar. The meat is wrapped in banana or palm leaves and placed in a roaring oven. Cooked over two days, this is the most tender, delicious, and wonderful explosion of taste that you will ever experience. If you are lucky enough to participate in a meal of Shuwa, it will be the highlight of your visit.
Another Ramadan favorite is Sakhana. This wonderful thick breakfast soup is made with wheat, sweetened with milk, molasses, and dates. Served during Ramadan, this sweet treat is enough to get your day started on the right foot. Fatta is another local favorite. This is a mixed meat and vegetable dish, served with thin, unleavened bread called Khubz rakhal. Never forget about dessert. While healthy, Omanis recognize the need to treat yourself. Try Omani Halwa. This sticky, decadent dessert is made from brown sugar, honey, eggs, and a variety of tasty and aromatic spices. Different variations are made with nuts or chocolate. And for a treat you will never forget: Lokhemat. Flour and yeast are rolled into balls, infused with cardamom, and deep fried to a luscious golden brown. They are served with sweet lime and cardamom syrup. Ramadan will become your new favorite month.
Grand Hyatt Muscat, Shatti Al Qurm, PO Box 951, Postal Code 133, Muscat
Tel: +968 641 234 | Fax: +968 605 282
O Sole Mio
Shatti Al Qurm, Postal Code 112, Muscat
Tel: +968 601 343 | Fax: +968 601 720
Al Zakher Shopping Centre, Postal Code 133, Muscat
Tel: +968 691 014
Hotel Mercure Al Falaj, PO Box 2031, Postal Code 112, Ruwi, Muscat
Tel: +968 702 311 | Fax: +968 795 853
Passage To India
Hatat House Compound, Muscat
Tel: +968 568 480
Located at the top of Qurm Natural Park
Tel: +968 605 255
Located at the top of Qurm Natural Park
Tel: +968 605 907
PO Box 398, Postal Code 114, Muscat
Like many places in the Middle East, tipping is not customary in Muscat. However, a small tip is welcomed and appreciated if someone performs an exceptional service or goes out of his way to help you. You may want to extend a tip of 10 to 15 percent to wait staff, and $1 or $2 to baggage handlers or hotel maids.
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PO Box 1998,Postal Code 114,Muttrah,Sultanate of Oman
Recently refurbished, this superb hotel enjoys a lovely beachside location on the edge of the delightful city of Muscat. Although it is conveniently close to the financial and business district, the hotel is an oasis of charm with stunning views of Al Bustan Bay. French,...
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PO Box 398 Muscat 114 Sultanate of Oman
The InterContinental Muscat encapsulates perfectly all that is Oman with its seamless blend of Arabian hospitality and modern facilities. Situated in 35 acres of luscious palm gardens between the imposing Hajjar Mountains and the flawless pale sand of the Gulf coast,...
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Shatti Al Qurm PO Box 951 Postal Code 133 Muscat Sultanate of Oman
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P.O. BOX 1455,MUSCAT,112 OMAN
The Crowne Plaza Muscat Hotel is both a leisure tourist’s paradise and a premier Muscat hotel accommodation spot for business travellers. The Crowne Plaza Muscat Hotel’s unique location - on top of a cliff and overlooking stunning beaches – is unlike any other in...
Exhibition Street, PC111, Muscat
The Golden Tulip Seeb Muscat Oman is just 1.5 km. from the Seeb International Airport and adjacent to the Oman International Exhibition Centre. Ideally located for all interior tours.All residents have access to private beach facilities, which is just across the road,... more