Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Sultanate of Ours

We were lucky enough during December to tour the Sultanate of Oman, what an absolutely gorgeous Country.So many things to describe, so many fabulous memories, so much magnificent knowledge shared there.
With hands, on floor, all together
We also stayed in Dubai which is a very, very different experience but still quite interesting in many unexpected ways. Whilst in Oman  & Dubai we enjoyed many different meals, most were served in the most modest cuisines. Our choice as we could've easily visited many top notch restaurants but we really wanted to experience traditions, eat like some of the locals or Omanis'/Emirates - well as much as possible - in the most unusual places we had the most flavoursome food.  One particular evening, in Dubai, we were invited to experience a meal  Syrian style. We were informed to dress casually & comfortably. We then drove to downtown Dubai, we then continued to drive on & on into an area not very well known to the typical tourist. An area most unlike Dubai :)  We parked our cars & walked into what looked like a run down tall block of flats. On the ground floor in the corner was a small, most unassuming, eatery. We were welcomed by the most regular guy, he didn't look like a waiter or a chef or a person who had anything to do with a restaurant. First we were walked through a male only area of the eatery  ..  which brought us then to a small area full of family cubicles. There we were shown into a cubicle & it was made apparent we were to sit down & make ourselves comfortable. All shoes were removed, hands washed & there we all were sitting cross legged & comfortable on the carpeted floor of a small cubicle. There were many floor cushions to lean on which made it feel most luxurious.  Within a few seconds of resting on the floor, another guy arrived with a plastic table cloth which he laid on the floor in the centre of the cubicle with all of us sitting around it. Drinks were served, the firm oblong shaped cushions also doubled up as a drinks tray :)  We were then asked if we wanted chicken, lamb or fish. There were no menu's. We chose all three, thinking it would be good to maybe share & sample different flavours if possible. A few minutes later 2 great big silver platters arrived full of rice with the meats on one platter & the fish on the other. The platters were placed in the centre of the plastic floor cloth, our cubicle curtain was again closed & we were wished something like Bon Appetite!! We all looked at our friend who invited us, he smiled & simply said okay this is how you do it . .  he then showed us how to use our thumbs like an eating utensil.  Ooooh what fun!!! We ate the whole meal lounging around on the floor, using only our fingers & thumb. Fabulous experience & the most amazing flavours. The lamb seemed full of spice & marinade as if it had been cooked for hours it just fell off the bone, the chicken & fish were exactly the same. The rice was delicately flavoured & such a perfect texture. We still reminisce about that one evening far more than any of the other evenings. so much so,  I would like to try to recreate a similar experience, with the same gorgeous flavours here in the UK.

Small Leg of Lamb
Large Chicken Breast
A Whole Fish - filleted
Spices, garlic, oil & water
Boiled Rice

Great fun but more than that simple & extremely tasty
My kinda heaven being able to lie down after a meal :)

Sooooo now then, this is where I need some authentic advice .. I would love you lovely peeps in the know to help me with the kind of methods & flavours that will most likely re create such a fabulous experience.  I have my ideas, I also have many of the local spices purchased in Oman & Dubai. But I am unaccustomed to the methods of cooking which can take days, I'm sure I heard the lamb was buried, & marinated for weeks then cooked for days !!

Any suggestions most welcome - we will be sharing this evening with our friends in a couple of weeks & I would like, as much as possible to create the gorgeous authentic flavours .

Many Thanks


  1. Such a nice story to share. I love Dubai. We ate lots of vegetarian choices when we visited. Hope you get lots of suggestions from your readers :)

  2. Hello Nancy & Vijay, Thank you I hope so too although I'm a newbie & bit of novice so not sure if anyone will find me. Nt sure how to reply in the buzz site!!! Mmmm haven't you any suggestions .. even maybe for the rice or veggie accompaniments :)
    I marinated some chicken yesterday in some arabic spices, cooked it today & it was delicious.. so will try marinating the meat next, then cooking it for hours on a low heat :) I only need to find some tall oblong floor cushions :)

  3. Hi, I am not from UAE but have spent more than 20years of my life in this part of the world. I could tell you that there is nothing such as burying a marinated lamb for weeks and cooking for days..the traditional way-meat was prepared in clay oven that were built in holes dug in the ground....but now, its simply very tender lamb that is marinated over night and slow cooked on a low heat till fully cooked.
    The dish you are talking about is arabic rice called "Kabsa". the fish and chicken are barbecued seperately and assembled with the rice and lamb while serving:)


  4. Helloooo MJ@CH
    Wow, fabulous I especially loved Oman. Which is where I first had the gorgeous lamb, the way you've described is exactly how its described on the menu, the Omani Speciality meal which I thoroughly enjoyed. Prepared by the villagers, buried in the ground & cooked slowly . . unfortunately I can't recall what the meal was called but it wasn't Kabsa. It was lamb, served in a round bowl with a stack of roti or some other bread to the side (think it was roti, a really thin bread but absolutely full of flavour

    The other meal with the fish, lamb & chicken eaten on the floor with our fingers, now yes that perhaps was Kabsa. Thank you I will google Kabsa.