The last time I made something from the Middle East was for Kuwait, which was the last country I made before the first round of Covid-19 food shortages hit. It was also the last food country before I had my hell summer, so returning to the list of potential dishes for Oman was a bit weird. Also doesn’t help that, for this region, there are so many shared recipes which makes finding something unique but cookable is a bit difficult.
If you think of the shape of the Arabian peninsula as an axe-head, I have now made crossed off both of the nations that make the edge of the blade. When I cooked for Yemen I had real issues with making a specific part of the dish out of fenugreek, but at least I had nice bread. So, with Oman, I wanted to make sure that I did something a bit different… and did not require another attempt to make hulba.
A lot of the recipes you find for Oman are shared with Saudi Arabia, so finding a recipe online that comes from a book about Omani cooking was good enough for me. Sure, this is a dish that can also be found in other Middle Eastern countries like Bahrain – but I just hope to find something else for that.
The recipe I used for this came from Saveur, which ended up being a bit incomplete so I had to make a guess about what was going to happen with the rest of the cardamom. I know that my picture does not look like the recipe and I put it down to two things.
Firstly, it’s way too red as the only plum tomatoes I could find came in a can and I realized half way through pouring in the can that I should not have included the extra juice. Then there is the fact that the rice wasn’t completely broken down when I served it – this came down to hunger in the end as after over two hours on the stove the rice still hadn’t properly disintegrated. It got to four in the afternoon and, with this meant to have been lunch, it just smelt too good to not eat.
Despite the inconsistencies, this was still a very comforting lunch to have. It worked for us on a cool December day in order to warm us up, but I can’t imagine that being as big a deal in a country where the lowest average temperature in a year is still above 17 degrees Celsius. Then again, I guess it’s all relative so when you are used to temperatures being in the 30s, a sudden drop to 18 would drive the need for porridge.
Next time on this list, I am going to be going back to Africa and finishing off the rather confusing (and hard to Google) Congolese area. Since I already tackled the national dish of the Republic of Congo when writing up the Democratic Republic of Congo, I’m going to see what else I can rustle up.