Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Traditional Omani Food

Last night I was supposed to be at the gym, working out, burning fat, dodging pom-poms. Instead on the way to the gym I get text from Nadia, "Look in your rearview?". I look up, there she is, driving behind me, shades on her head (jk).

Next thing I know my gym bag and sneakers are haphazardly thrown against a wall and I'm sitting cross-legged with a few friends in front of this...

We ended up at Bin Ateeq (For Traditional Omani Food) for dinner. None of us had eaten lunch and I needed any excuse to not go to the gym. The food was delicious. For the first time I tried Habsha Maqlee (Fried INTESTINE), once my gag reflex passed it was actually quite tasty, I promise. We also ordered fried calamari, yum, Dijaj Khasoosi (small fried chicken pieces with fried onion, tomato etc.) I also tried Qarass which is bread boiled with sugar, cardamom and fresh cow ghee, soooo delicious! We ended our meal with

A'seedha of course, which is like a jello made with wheat flour topped with ghee. Also very delicious!

I really enjoyed myself with great company and delicious food. We talked about the different foods in Dhofar and that in Muscat. I am not used to eating any of those foods so its taken a little getting used to. I do however, appreciate and enjoy it every now and then. Salalah is unique and very fortunate not to be bombarded with fast-food restaurants yet so often we still choose food that isnt good for us. Its not just Salalah of course, its everywhere. We keep putting crap in our bodies and the effects are evident.

A few weeks ago my family was invited to lunch at a friends house, we ate a huge plate of food (mostly carbs) and after eating more than her share, my host became so drowsy. She could barely keep a conversation and politely excused herself for her habitual afternoon nap. I ended up playing with the children and her 18 year old daughter mustered enough energy to stay awake and keep me company. I know its common to take naps, even healthy, but not when its the effect of a large meal.

My 32 year old neighbor who has extremely high cholesterol and has been complaining of chest pains. She is a beautiful young woman who is alarmingly overweight. I stopped by for a hello just the other day and she served me tea (loaded with sugar), cookies and dates stuffed with butter, which she also generously participated in. I tried to kindly, lovingly suggest that she try to stay away from these things because the result can be lethal. I lost count of how many times I've seen 2 year olds with a can of Dew and a bag of junk roaming the streets. All that ketchup, hot sauce, soda, ghee, and sweets are a huge contributing factor to the diabetes problems. Not to mention the lack of exercise (particularly women).

We are blessed to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables and meat.

A friend and I have I been thinking of doing a free seminar for Dhofaris on how to eat healthy (myself included).


  1. Good topic..
    Reminded me of how much my legs are sore from sitting down A LOT! need to exercise!

    It is interesting the number of offers I get to eat sweets loaded with sugar and butter. "Eat Eat, you need to gain weight!" ...

    Can I gain healthy weight.. plz!

  2. Traditional food, I don't know how much I like it... or how much I dislike it. Haven't eaten Aseeda (the mountain with the hole in the pic) since I was 17.

  3. It's funny how Omanis who don't usually eat very traditional food (e.g. Muscati's) HATE traditional food, while foreignors really like it. Glad you loved it :)

    But what I haven't expected was this: Nadia texts while driving!! NOOOOOOOOOOO.. I hope it's your last time Nadia! ;)

  4. reality: so true!. People are always trying to convince me that I'm too thin and I should stuff my face more. I hate it, when clearly I am not too thin!

    Non-Crowned: Aseeda is great every now and then! Have some again.

    Stimulus: you didnt know? Nadia can text 500 words a second WITHOUT LOOKING! Ive seen her do it a million times.

  5. Omanis tend to eat the same exact things every day. It gets boring in Salalah. We need restaurants that serve different flavors.

  6. Have you had Shuwa? Its an Omani dish that is absolutely delicious. It is prepared in a pit and left for 24 hours to slow cook. Its a favorite for many and if you can tolerate intestine I am certain you will enjoy Shuwa. Here in Muscat you can find it at most Omani restaurants. I wonder where in Salalah it can be found prepared authentically. Rania, if you know would you share? I'm heading south to Salalah in a months time. thanks so much for the post, keep writing will ya?

  7. Yes I have had Shoowa! It was so so good. I remember the first time I had it, I was surprised at how tender the meat was.

    Unfortunately I don't know where you can find it here in Salalah. I'm sure its on some menu though. I'll ask around and get back to you.

  8. As an expat, I find it so hard to say "no" when offered Omani hospitality. But I am just not used to the level of eating here and the kinds of things that are eaten. I've gone on a few day trips and road trips with Omanis, and I have gotten a lot smarter about this. I have to bring a bag of apples, carrots, nuts, and water! But I watch my friends pop into a gas station, and buy a bag of chocolate bars, chips, and Mountain Dew. I'm very worried about health issues in Oman! Bring on seminarsss!!!

  9. Oh Rania, please do. It goes the other way too. I teach young women here, and so many of them starve themselves, I'm sure, because Omanis are not really naturally thin people - I mean they are not slightly built, but these girls are just wisps. i was at my hairdressers the other day and we got onto this topic and she said yes, they do, and that her young sister did this, starved herself, and then was constantly sick and in hospital every time she got her period. So many of my girls look faint and sick, and I hate that this is what they've picked up from western tv, because it is a disease in the West, even though we can regulate our eating with exercise. So many of my girls are not allowed to do anything, and in an effort to attain this terrible, terrible, terrible standard of beauty, they are making themselves sick. Come on, Omanis, your girls and children are precious. They should learn how to eat from you - not from western TV. Please care about their health.

  10. Oh Salalah soo needs the sugar, diabetes, gestatonal diabetes, exercise, education about health confrence... ill be soo ready to come inshaAllah... will u do it only in arabic ?

  11. I gained 11kg in 7 months after getting married to a dhofari.. it was the worst time in my life...the heavy eating i mean. my knees started to ache badly, plus not being allowed to go outside and walk cos so they say its "ayb - shamefull" for a sorry but its haram for us to abuse our bodies and be greedy eating tooo much each day. la ilaha illa Allah. I had to go on a strict diet and Alhamdulillah i did it fast and lost the weight asap in the space of 1 month.
    Food education is needed in the middle east generally speaking. So much food is wasted and yet millions are starving in africa, iraq, palestine, pakistan, india etc etc.

    Allah guide us and prevent us from being greedy ungreatful people. Ameen

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