Oman

I’ve always wanted to go to Oman, well actually, I’ve always wanted to go the Chedi hotel in Muscat. Pouring over glossy travel magazines, as is my want, I came across it’s magnificent white Omani architecture and calming pools many years ago. It just oozes luxury and zen like serenity. However at £230 per night for a sea view room or £450 for a club suite, I’ve not quite got there yet.

The Sultanate of Oman is a nation on the Arabian Peninsula, it is bordered by the United Arab Emirates to the northwest, Saudi Arabia to the west, and Yemen to the south and southwest, and shares marine borders with Iran and Pakistan. Oman is an absolute monarchy, meaning the monarch has unrestricted political power over the sovereign state and its people. The Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said has been the hereditary leader of the country since 1970.

The largest dagger measured 91.50 cm (36.02 in) in length and 21.60 cm (8.50 in) at its widest point and was achieved by Oman Telecommunications Company (Omantel) in Muscat, Oman, on 12 November 2011. The dagger was produced as a gift to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said, to celebrate his 40 years of accession. The dagger was a Khanja- a traditional Omani dagger and Oman’s national symbol. The dagger was made from wood and silver, with ornate carvings and mouldings.

Some of the top highlights for the visitor are Nizwa’s 17th century fort, Wadi Shab gorge, the port and capital city of Muscat, Sharqiya (Wahiba) sand dunes, Masirah’s picture perfect beaches and the Empty Quarter, the largest contiguous sand desert (erg) in the world.

Omani cuisine is rooted in a Bedouin culture of hospitality, using whatever is on hand to feed a wandering stranger or a crowd of friends. Dishes are often based on chicken, fish, and lamb, as well as the staple of rice. Common dishes include Machboos (rice flavored with saffron and cooked over spicy meat), Sakhana (thick soup), Djaj Fouq El-Eish (spiced chicken and rice) and Mishkak (skewered meat cooked over charcoal). I decided to cook the festival meal of Shuwa, which traditionally is covered with banana leaves and cooked in an underground sand oven for up to 2 days. As my husband wasn’t too keen on me digging a fire pit in our garden, I opted to cook it in the oven! It is served over a fragrant rice and we really enjoyed it.

Rating: 8/10

Serves: 4
Prep time: 20 mins + 24 hours marinating
Cook time: 3 hours 50 mins

1/2 leg of lamb, pierced in a few places with a sharp knife

For the marinade:
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp ground pepper
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
3/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp red chili powder
2 tbsp cooking oil
1 1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon

For the rice:
2 cups basmati rice
4 cups water
3/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp pepper corns
2 cardamom pods
2 cloves
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
2 bay leaves
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp salt

Thoroughly combine all the marinade ingredients
Put the lamb in a bag and pour the spice mix over the lamb leg, massaging it well inside the bag so it’s fully coated and the liquids get into the pierced holes
Place in the fridge for 24 hours

Preheat the oven to 150c
Put the lamb in a roasting tray and cover tightly with foil
Cook for 3 and a 1/2 hours, basting every hour
Remove the foil and cook for a further 20 mins
Put the lamb on a carving board, rest for 5 mins then carve

For the rice (start 20 – 30 mins before lamb is ready)
Soak the rice for 10 mins in water, drain and rinse
Heat a heavy bottom pan to a medium – high heat
Add oil
Add all the spices and fry for 30 seconds
Add the water
When water is boiling, add the rice
Cook until the water has all been absorbed, stir gently, then turn off the heat and cover with a lid
Let it steam until the lamb is ready

 

Wadi Shab, Oman
Wadi Shab gorge, Oman
Muscat Oman
Muscat, Oman
Chedi hotel Muscat
Chedi hotel, Muscat
Masirah beach Oman
Masirah beach, Oman
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