Oman dining: Visit Dukanah Cafe for some traditional food
April 16, 2017 | 2:56 PM
by Salim Al Afifi
Desserts at Dukanah Cafe

They weren’t joking when they said that ‘old is gold’. As I walked inside Dukanah Café in Azaiba, I was instantly impressed by the charms of an ancient Oman setting that was muddy, woody, and replete with traditional tapestry.

Let’s start by explaining what Dukanah means. It’s an Omani term used to describe a place that’s tucked between two things, and usually used by men for an afternoon coffee.

As soon you enter through the door, you’ll notice how much of a well executed concept this place is, truly taking you back to the olden days. The ambience sports a muddy colour palette, which is how old Omani houses used to look like, a combination of beige and light brown. As for the interior, it is crafted to represent old houses in the villages of Muscat. It has been adorned with raw, unpolished, and rustic materials that elevates the whole concept and make it a true re-living experience. You’ll find unfinished cemented floors, wooden tables that has interesting textures, geometric designs, and stones, wooden chairs with Omani-Bedouin traditional fabrics placed on them, lanterns hanged on its ceiling made of trees and branches, packets full of dried lemons and roses resembling those in traditional souqs and a tea corner that serves you hot kahwa and tea. And, to camouflage the use of modern technology, they have used a beige coloured weathered-looking fabric to cover air conditioners.

Dukanah Cafe

What made me fall in love with this place is their attention to details. They made sure every single item at the restaurant is given a traditional revamp, from tissue boxes and coffee pots, to washing sink to the waiters wearing uniforms with a touch of tradition. Even the main counter gives a souq like feel.

As I sat down, the ever exuberant waiter brought me a hand fan. I sat bemused wondering why would I need one, only to find out that the fan is actually the menu card cleverly designed to fit the theme of the place. Their menu is short and to the point, offering a number of Omani staple dishes, some of which I have never heard of or tried before. I asked the waiter to guide me through, and recommend some of the best on their menu, and I was in for a treat.

I was dead thirsty and so I ordered two drinks that seemed unfamiliar to me, the first being rose petals, a drink made of literally fresh rose petals, blended with ice, sugar, and a zest of lime, and garnished with petals on top. This was the highlight; it was refreshing, delicious, and had a unique aftertaste. The second drink was dried lemon, a juice made of ground and boiled Omani dried lemon. These lemons are staples in this part of the world, so I had to give it a try. The drink had a tangy flavour. It’s unusual taste made it ever more interesting.

Drinks at Dukanah Cafe

For the mains, I got myself shakshooka, a dish made of scrambled eggs, peppers, mushrooms, and a touch of coriander leaves. The peppers added a sweet crunch to the dish. Then I dived into my second main, I had lentils and beans, served with Omani flat bread or chappati. The beans were magic and tasted delicious. They reminded me of my mother’s cooking, and to me, nothing beats homemade flavours.

Now to my absolute favourite part of Dukanah Cafés menu — desserts. If you are a fan of Omani sweets, then this should be your go-to place in town, as they have a variety of date-infused treats that will entertain your tastebuds. I started with jaula wa asal, an Omani delicacy made of smashed bread, flour, a whole lot of date honey. The dessert is too sweet, a few bites and your palate will turn all sugary, but it’s totally worth a try. Another treat that was fun to savour was quroos, that was mini pancakes served with date honey. They were lip smacking and I could eat date honey all day, everyday. I savoured the mashed dates treat in sheer delight, which, for some reason, reminded me of Ramadan. Make sure to order a gigantic cup of coffee when having these sweets, it’s a match made in heaven.

Dukanah Café is without a doubt going to be one of the most visited places in town. They aced their game, their concept, and their food. I cannot wait to come back for more date honey treats and that delicious pink-coloured rose juice. Come here and experience Oman from the past, you won’t regret it. [email protected]

Dukanah Café

+968 2450 2244

Azaiba, Muscat

(Behind GMC showroom)

What to Order:

Rose petals drink OMR 1.6

Jaula wa asal OMR 3.9

Beans with Omani flat bread OMR 2.9

Quroos OMR 3.6

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