Five Essential Foods/Drinks to Try
One of the greatest joys of traveling to new countries is the opportunity to try different, local, and traditional foods. Oman is famous for many foods and beverages, but the following five are essential to taste while visiting the Sultanate.
Perhaps the most popular and specifically Omani sweet found in the Gulf is halwa. This sticky, jelly-like sweet is made from a sugar or honey base with saffron and other special spices added, and then mixed over an open flame for hours until the correct consistency is reached. The unique consistency and taste will be new for you, but the experience is well worth it while you are visiting Oman. No trip to an Omani home is complete without halwa paired with the next item on our list.
The perfect partner to sweet Omani halwa is coffee, but not as you have known coffee before. Omani coffee has a bold, layered flavor that comes from a mix of Omani spices and is always served black in a small cup called a finjan. Since the cups are small, feel free to drink as many as you would like, but when you are finished shake the cup back and forth to show your Omani host that you have had enough.
Another essential hot beverage for life in Oman is Karak tea. Easily found in small tea shops around Muscat, Karak is made from black tea, milk, sugar, and Omani spices simmered together for hours and served piping hot. Pick some up for a few hundred baisa (less than $1) in the morning and let the caffeine and sugar help you get a start on the day.
Although traditionally only served for Eid Al Fitr and and Eid Al Adha (the two biggest holidays within Islam), schuwa can be found at some restaurants year-round and should be at the top of your list of foods to try while in Oman. What makes schuwa so unique is the method of cooking: pieces of red meat are marinated in a traditional blend of spices for hours, wrapped in banana leaves, put in a wicker basket and buried in a pit of hot coals. After a day of underground roasting, it is dug up and served immediately. The meat is tender, and taste is robust. After trying this, you will never think the same way about barbeque. Not only is the food delicious, but the experience is one you are sure to remember!
The last food essential for a complete Oman experience is dates. With date farms sprinkled across all of Oman these small, pitted fruits are a part of every Omani day. Eaten straight off the tree, half ripe, or dried, dates are a staple in Omani homes and diet. Always eaten in an odd number, dates are normally served with fresh fruits, helwa, and Omani coffee. Find your dates in any souq, grocery store, or straight off the tree (with permission, of course).