As my Oman adventures officially kicked off, I set out to a local mosque and tried Omani food for the very first time in Muscat, Oman!
Muscat is the capital of Oman and dates back roughly 900 years, though its roots go back even further. My day started at Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. Showing me around were my new friends and guides Ahmed and Ahmed from Oman Travel!
The mosque was built in 2001. It’s made of Italian marble and features Islamic architecture. Our first stop was the main prayer hall, which is where you’ll find the giant chandelier and the carpet, which lost the title of the largest carpet and chandelier in the world to the mosque in Abu Dhabi.
I loved the intricate white detailing. Then, we took off our shoes to go inside. The chandelier was massive (it’s also the second largest in the world due to the mosque in Abu Dhabi), and the carpet is hand-woven!
I saw where the imam stands and leads the prayers. The walls there are very colorful and have scripture from the Koran written on them. I suggest coming early, around 9 a.m., as they close before noon.
Next, we saw where worshippers wash their hands and feet before going in to pray.
Then, we headed to Rozna to have some traditional Omani food. The restaurant was built like a mud fortress. There were antique cars outside, and inside it was beautiful. There’s a big dining hall in the middle and 30 private, traditional dining rooms where you eat on the floor.
I watched a woman make rakhal, a thin, traditional bread made from wheat flour, on a griddle. You can fill it with eggs, chocolate, and more. You can even add chips!
I got one with eggs, cream cheese, and chips. I loved the crispiness of the bread and chips, and the creaminess of the cream cheese.
Then, we headed into a private dining room with Afghan carpets and pillows. After some fresh water, we had some camel bone soup. I loved the fatty, greenish broth. The tender camel almost reminded me of lamb.
Next was a Rocca salad, which contained arugula, pomegranates, and cheese. We used our hands to eat it. I loved the refreshing pomegranate and olive oil dressing.
We also had a pastry containing shuwa, which is a lamb leg that has been cooked with spices for roughly 24 hours. You dip it into pomegranate sauce. We also had a dry shark salad with onion, cilantro, tomatoes, and vinegar.
We also had chicken dum biryani, qabuli lamb (rice with lamb cooked underground inside a banana leaf), and a dish made of beef cooked in its own fat.
The lamb fritter with pomegranate sauce was amazing! I loved the savory and sweet combinations with many of these Omani food dishes. The dry shark salad with rice was also refreshing and flavorful.
Next was the meat qalya, which was like the beef fry I ate in Kerala. It was lean and tender, and great with the crispy, paper-like flatbread. Adding honey made it even better!
The ice-cold coconut water was super refreshing. Next was the qabooli shuwa (slow-cooked lamb with rice), the #1 dish in Oman. We added a tomato salsa. It was a blast of flavor! I loved the fat, salsa, chickpeas, potatoes, caramelized onions, and rice together!
It was so good, it might be my favorite rice dish of all time! Next was sweet, tender coconut. I was loving the Arabian and African influences in the food! Finally, the chicken biryani was moist and flavorful even with minimal spices.
Then, we had dessert (luqaimat, khabeesa, date balls, and coffee) in another room, which is traditional.
The luqaimat was like a donut with sesame seeds and sugar syrup, the date balls were like a nutty date biscuit, and the khabeesa was a crumbly cake with rose water and saffron. We washed them down with iced Omani coffee (karak) with halwa, cardamom, and saffron.
It was the best way to end our Omani food feast. I was blown away by how great it was!