Oman sits on the southern end of the Middle East with a huge coastline that stretches from the Gulf of Oman to the Arabian Sea. Due to its location, Oman has long been a trade route and the traditional food in Oman has been greatly influenced by its position.
The tastes include Meditteranean, Persian, Indian, and North African influences. They have a huge range of delicious bread, Omani dishes feature lots of different spices and herbs, and their staple meats include chicken, lamb, and, of course, fish.
While traveling in Oman, you won’t go wanting for amazing flavors, and here is some of the traditional food in Oman you must try while you’re there.
Madrouba is a dish served in pretty much every restaurant you’re going to find in Oman and it’s a great main meal for lunch or dinner.
Madrouba is a kind of spicy, Omani, porridge rice dish usually made with chicken. It’s made by first overcooking rice and then combining it with cooked chicken and a tonne of flavor including garlic, ginger, cloves, cumin, turmeric, and other spices.
Madrouba is served hot and comes with a garnish of lime zest to really set off the flavors. It’s creamy, delicious, warming, and very filling. It’s a great traditional food to have when you’re feeling a bit homesick or super hungry.
Chicken kabouli is kind of Oman’s answer to India’s chicken masala or biryani. It’s made with a blend of Oman masala consisting of cardamom, cloves, coriander, and cinnamon and that is all ground up.
This Omani masala mix is then added to basmati rice and cooked up to make it flavorful. Once the rice is ready, it’s added to a mixture of fried chicken pieces and onions, which are usually boiled with species beforehand to ensure the chicken is nice and tender.
You should expect to get a garnish with your chicken kabouli such as nuts, almonds, dates, sultanas, or even potatoes and chickpeas.
It’s another filling, warming, and delicious dish that you can find pretty much anywhere across the country. If you love Indian food, you’ll love a chicken kabouli.
Mashuai is a traditional food in Oman that you’ll easily find if you’re close to the sea, which you’re always likely to be in Oman.
The fish uses is a kanad, also known as a kingfish which has beautiful white flesh. The fish is first rubbed with spices such as ground coriander seeds, ginger, turmeric, cumin, and some salt that is all mixed in oil.
Once covered in spices and oil, the flavor is driven through the fish by cooking it on a spit-roast. The whole fish is slowly turned until it’s cooked to perfection and once it’s ready it’s immediately served.
Mashuai isn’t served alone either. Usually, you’ll have the fish served on top of a bed of cashew nuts mixed into lemon-flavored rice. The combination of the zesty rice, nuts, and perfectly cooked fish is mouthwateringly delicious.
Mishkak is a traditional food in Oman you have to try and it’s served all over the streets as a snack or a main meal. When you walk past a mishkak vendor, the chances of you not stopping and trying it are pretty minimal as the smell is mouthwatering.
Mishkak is pretty much a kebab but made in an Omani style. The meat, usually mutton, beef, or chicken, is first cut into cubes, put on a skewer, and then marinated to perfection. The marinade is key to the flavor of the dish and usually consists of a mixture of herbs and spices.
Black pepper, cloves, cardamom, garlic, ginger, cayenne pepper, cumin, curry powder, cinnamon, salt, tamarind, coriander, raw papaya, salt, oil, and water can all be used to make the marinade.
The meat is then marinaded for a long time, overnight is best, and then cooked on the grill. The key to ensuring it tastes amazing is pulling the meat off the grill before it goes dry and is still tender, succulent, and full of flavor. Mishkak is usually served with a fresh salad or in bread and comes with chili or tamarind sauce.
If you think you have tried a good kebab before, chances are it won’t compare to a perfectly cooked Mishkak in Oman.
Often referred to as Oman’s national dish, shuwa is a kind of slow roast meat dish but very much in Omani style. It takes a long time to prepare and is usually reserved for special occasions but you might find it at some restaurants while you’re in Oman.
Shuwa is usually made with lamb or goat from cuts with the bone still included. It can also be made with beer and sometimes camel, so check before you order if you don’t want to try camel.
The meat is first rubbed in a blend of spices and oil including coriander, cumin, chili, and cloves. It’s then wrapped in palm or banana leaves, put into a woven bag, and roasted in an underground pit for a day or more.
The meat comes out, full of flavor and incredibly tender. It falls off the bone! The Shuwa is then served with rice and tomato sauce.
Oman has a lot of different types of bread and you will have to visit a bakery in Oman to see just how many types there are. Flatbreads, naan bread, sweetbreads, chapati, the list is endless.
If there is one bread that is a must to try, it’s mushaltat. Mushaltat is a kind of soft flatbread that is then stuffed with various ingredients, a kind of Omani pizza or calzone if you will.
The fillings can range from cheese and meat to cheese and spinach, or sometimes just honey. The bread is made from wheat flour and then kneaded into cakes which are stuffed and baked for around five minutes or so.
If you’re a dessert person, one traditional food in Oman you should try is halawet ahmad. It’s made using pasta, actually, vermicelli which is first roasted and then combined with desiccated coconut, almond powder, sugar, butter, and condensed milk.
It’s served in a dome-like structure with almonds or pistachios. It’s super sweet and worth sharing.
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!