A uniform Omani cuisine does not exist. Since the barren Omani soil could not contribute to a variety of food, the kitchen of the country has long been characterized by foreign products.
In the past, those in the interior relied mainly on dates, limes, rice and bread, while the coastal population enriched their diet with fish. Today, refrigerated transport supplies even remote regions with fresh fish and vegetables every day. The meat is varied: goat, chicken, lamb and camel enrich the menu. However, the latter are slaughtered only on festive occasions or on religious holidays. As in other Arab countries, it is customary in Oman to eat not with cutlery but with the right hand. From Asia or Africa come many spices: above all, cinnamon, cardamom (also for tea or coffee), saffron, turmeric (curcurma), cloves, and rose water. Nevertheless, there are also some local dishes, such as shoowa and halwa.
The time-consuming holiday dish Shoowa consists mainly of goat meat, served with rice, salad and lime.
This dish is only prepared on special religious holidays, because it is very time consuming. A goat is season and wrapped in banana leaves, bedded on glowing charcoal in an earthen pit, which is then closed over. Depending on the size of the animal, it will be reopened after 12 to 24 hours. The meat is tender and juicy. It is served on a large tray with lots of rice, salad and limes. Afterwards an abundance of fruit is offered, finishing with the obligatory coffee.
Halwa is mainly produced in factories today. The different varieties are not only very different in taste but also in price.
In Arabic, "halwa" means sweet, and it tastes that way. No wonder, because the ingredients consist of clarified butter, caramelized sugar, almonds and starch, flavored with saffron, cardamom, almonds and rose water.
In smaller towns you can find here and there a halwa cook, but in Barka there is a big factory. It produces a variety of varieties that differ greatly in price, color and taste. With constant stirring, the viscous mass is cooked for hours over a wood fire (which is important for the taste) in a large copper kettle until it is finally filled into colorful plastic or enamel bowls. Then just let it cool down and: Bon Appetit!