Top Eats Oman
As I roamed the streets in search of antiques, clothing, and trinkets to bring home to my family I was quickly distracted by the distinctive aromas of spices and sweets emanating from the restaurants that lined the streets. Omani cuisine changed the game for me; the unique blend of spices creates a flavor combination unlike any other.
A tender, fall off the bone meat dish that is smothered in a multitude of spices, wrapped in palm leaves and then cooked underground for several days before serving. This dish is typically served on very special occasions (such as meeting with foreign guests) as the preparation is tedious. Shuwa is the most famous food of Oman!
An aromatic mixed rice dish often served with meat. The main part of this meal was the rice, which seems a bit boring, right? As a matter of fact, it’s the best part! The rice has bits of cardamom and saffron which really make for a one of a kind taste for your pallet. The Arabic meaning for Majboos is “Be engaged” and it’s easy to see why, the meal is usually served in large quantities and (like many other Arabic dishes) served on a giant platter as opposed to individual plates which helps everyone put down their cellphone’s and enjoy the original form of human interaction, spoken word! Definitely a favourite amongst locals for Omani Cuisine.
Arsia consists of pounded rice, meat, spices and milk. At first glance this dish resembles soggy oatmeal but let me tell you, the taste is out of this world. This sweet and savory meal is typically served as one of the first dishes during Eid.
Oman Desserts and Treats
The translation for Halwa is “sweet”, so you can imagine the intense sugar rush this dessert offers up. But the real draw to this dessert is its unique texture and flavor combinations. If you’re walking down the street you will surely find an entire shop dedicated to this dessert.
Rose water/ Frankincense ice cream
My all time favourite dessert in Oman was Rose water Ice cream! This dessert offers the simple yet timeless classic, ice cream along with a luxurious flourish of rose water. And of course, you can always opt for the more traditional Omani choice of Frankincense Ice cream. It certainly offers a unique flavor combination that Omani’s swear by.
A fruit that has brought great pride the Omani people, dates from this region are said to be the best in the world. This light snack is usually served alongside coffee or tea and with over 250 indigenous varieties to choose from be sure to ask the locals where to get the best of the best.
The most traditional of Omani drinks is Laban, which means “sour milk” in Arabic, but not to worry as the drink is actually made up of yogurt and buttermilk. Although it is easy to see where the term “sour” comes into play as this drink has a unique salty quality to it. I will warn you that this is not a drink for everyone, but you should at least try it once as I can assure you, you have not tried another drink like it.
Although this is not unique to Oman I enjoyed these every morning with breakfast. There is a wide variety of fruits to choose from including watermelon, mango or peach but sometimes they mix in a bit of mint for a neat flavor combo.
Khawa – Oman Coffee
Omani Coffee that is often mixed with cardamom powder (which I have started to use in my coffees at home). Honestly, I can tell you that Oman has some great coffee that will satisfy even the most sophisticated of coffee connoisseurs.
Karak Tea – Oman Tea
Often referred to as Spiced Omani Milk, this delicious tea is a mixture of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and ginger that is usually sweetened with condensed milk and served several times throughout the day. Usually if you are invited to an Omani families’ home they will offer you Karak.
Tradition Oman Dining Tip – Omani table manners dictate that when filling a guest’s glass it should only be filled ¼ of the way full, this way the guest does not feel rushed.
Top Oman Restaurants
Ubhar – Muscat, Oman
This restaurant is located in Muscat and offers a variety of traditional Omani dishes. It is pricey but well worth the cost as traditional foods can be hard to find especially ones prepared as well as they are at Ubhar.
Bait Al Luban – Muscat, Oman
As you enter this restaurant you will be seated amongst colourful traditional decorum including your seating area, which is on a beautifully embroidered carpet with comfortable pillows. After enjoying your meal be sure to order some Omani desserts, they are sure to quench your sweet tooth.
Nizwa Fort Coffee Shop – Nizwa, Oman
For a quick sip of coffee stop by this little shop and be sure to sample the dates. We almost passed on the dates but the owner insisted we try them. We were certainly surprised at how absolutely scrumptious they were and how well they paired with the Khawa. Also, free wifi which is always nice.
The Leisure Deck Restaurant and Bar – Salalah, Oman
Unwind after a long day with some high quality sheesha in a relaxed and quiet atmosphere at The Leisure Deck Restaurant and Bar. The food is wonderful and if your craving a cocktail or a decadent milk shake you’ve come to the right place.
Author – Chelsea Klapwyk
Chelsea Klapwyk has been globetrotting with Uncharted Backpacker for the past year. Recently she has been to Cuba, Oman, Yemen and South East Asia. She is a talented writer and photographer! You can see more of her work right here on Uncharted Backpacker.