To experience culture, it has to be tasted. After living in Oman for almost 5 years, I have learned to explore not only the different tourist destinations but also indulge in some local Arabic food. I love the spices and herbs on the food. It’s unique and tasty! Listed below are some of my favorite Arabic food that you may want to try on:
It is a mashed chickpeas blended with tahina (toasted sesame seeds with a consistency similar to peanut butter), olive oil, salt, garlic and cumin. It is a dip that goes along well with bread or any vegetable stick. I love having hummus as a spread on khuboos (flat bread) for breakfast.Hummus can be bought readily on any grocery store and usually last for 2-3 days on the refrigerator.
It is yogurt strained through a cloth to remove the whey, resulting in a spread that is almost same the consistency of a soft cheese. There are wide varieties of labneh. Compared to all kinds of labneh, I personally like Turkish Labneh as it is not too sour. It has the balance taste of saltiness and creaminess that you can’t resist of. Instead of the usual cheddar cheese or any ready made spread, I like it better which goes well with cucumber and tomato. I love spreading it on a bread for breakfast.
Typical Omani dish served during special occasion. It can be goat or cow cooked and buried underground for 1-2 days. The meat is loaded with herbs and spices. It is tender that melts into your mouth. The meat is enjoyed with a large platter of rice and tangy Omani style tomato sauce.
Sometimes called Arabic pizza. It is made of dough topped with cheese, ground meat or zataar (an Arabic spice with a citrus/ lemony flavor). It is best to eat manakeesh when fresh out of the oven but taste as good after it cools. It can be sliced or folded and can be served for breakfast or lunch.
It is a cheese sweet pastry made up of Akkawi cheese, mozzarella or any type of unsalted cheese soaked with sugar syrup and pistachios on the top. It is usually part of the breakfast best paired with Arabic coffee.
It is usually made up of lamb chops, kofta (minced meat), beef (shish kebab) or chicken (shish tawook). Mixed grill is usually served with salad and Arabic bread.
This dish is made up of chopped parsley, tomato, mint, scallion, bulgur and other herbs with lemon and oil. It is usually served as mezze (appetizer) in Arab countries. I love the freshness and crispiness of the parsley and the contrast taste of lemon and salt.
Probably the most popular Arabic food. Beef, chicken or lamb is grilled on a vertical spit then shave off for serving. The basic shawarma is stuffed with tahini, hummus or garlic sauce. Other sellers add vegetables or french fries on it then the ingredients are wrapped in Arabic bread. You can always find shawarma in every corner. A sandwich costs from 300 baisa/ .77 USD/ 36.7 PHP.
Another dip which is somewhat similar to hummus but made up of roasted eggplant and additional tahina sauce. It’s quite easy to remember as batinjan means eggplant in Arabic. It goes well with any bread. I like dipping grilled meat or chicken to this dip too.
If you are craving for a distinct Omani flavour, mushkak/ mishkak is a must try. It is a skewered chicken, mutton or beef drizzled with spicy tamarind sauce. The best skewers can be found on the street corner or souq (market). You can eat straight from the stick or wrap it in Arabic bread. Mushkak/ Mishkak is hugely popular among young people and commuters who want to enjoy the casual atmosphere and eat them on the spot. Don’t forget to try camel skewers if you want to try something different. One stick costs 300baisa each/ .77 USD/ 36.7 PHP
11. Omani bread crepe
Paper thin crispy called khubz rakhal is filled with cheese, honey,eggs or chips or a combination of all four. Omani bread is best enjoyed with karak tea. Karak tea is a blend of black tea, milk, sugar and cardamon. It is very aromatic and tasty.
Crepes are found mostly in the little tea-shops or coffee shops scattered around the major towns or cities of Oman.
Al Harees, traditional dish consisting of wheat, meat (chicken or lamb) and salt is a prominent treat during special occasions like Ramadan, Eid or weddings. The wheat grains are ideally soaked overnight, seasoned and then simmered in water to cook. It takes time to cook and when cooked, it will be somewhat like an oat porridge. It was once a traditional dish made at Arab homes but can be found nowadays included on the menu of some Arabic restaurants around the country.
What is your favorite Arabic food? Share on the comments below.