Oman dining: Flavours of the Middle East
November 13, 2017 | 6:52 PM
by Oneza Tabish
Arabic lentil shorba is a velvety vegetarian soup that is comforting and nutritious.


This is a Middle Eastern take on dal soup. Arabic lentil shorba is a velvety vegetarian soup that is comforting and nutritious. Lentil soup is a staple soup in the Middle East which is light on the stomach and absolutely flavourful.


• 11/4 cups of split red lentils

• 1 teaspoon oil

• 1 bay leaf

• 1/2 cup chopped onion

• 1/2 cup chopped celery

• 1/2 cup chopped carrot

• 2 garlic cloves, minced

• 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder

• 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

• 4 cups vegetable stock

• 2 cups water

• 1 lemon, juiced

• Salt and pepper as per taste


Rinse and soak the split red lentils for 15-20 minutes, then drain. Heat oil and add the bay leaf. Sauté the onions, celery, and carrots until they have become slightly translucent. Add in the garlic and gently sauté for a few seconds. Add cumin powder, turmeric, drained lentils, stock, and water and cook for half an hour or until the lentils have softened. Let it cool and blend the soup to get a thick consistency. Return the soup to the stove and let it simmer again for 5 minutes. Season with the lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Serve hot and garnish with fresh parsley and some olive oil drizzle.


A name derived from the Arabic word for reddened, is a creamy, spicy red pepper and walnut dip. Muhammara is served with pita or veggies for dipping and is surely a party pleaser.


• 1/4 cup olive oil

• 3 roasted red bell peppers seeded and peeled

• 1/2 cup toasted walnuts coarsely chopped

• 1/4 cup breadcrumbs

• 1 clove of garlic minced

• 1 tablespoon lemon juice

• 2 teaspoons pomegranate

molasses or pomegranate juice

• 1 teaspoon cumin powder

• 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

• Salt and pepper to taste


Place the oil, roasted peppers, walnuts, breadcrumbs, garlic, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, cumin powder and red pepper flakes in a food processor. Process until well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, walnuts, minced bell pepper and parsley. Serve with pita bread.


Kabsa is the national dish of Saudi Arabia, which consists of rice, spices, vegetables, and lamb or chicken. The preparation of the same is tedious, so here is a shorter, faster method of making it when you are pressed for time.


• 3 cups of basmati rice

• Vegetable oil

• 1 boneless skinless chicken cut into cubes

• 1 medium sized red onion

• 4 cloves of garlic

• 4 green chillies

• 4 cardamom pods

• Kabsa spices (readymade)

• 2 pinches of saffron

• 1 teaspoon sweet paprika

• 1 teaspoon of coriander

• 1 teaspoon of turmeric

• 2 tablespoons tomato paste

• Salt

• 6 cups of boiling water


Rinse the rice and soak for 10 minutes, then drain it and set it aside. Heat the oil and add the chicken cubes. Add the finely diced onions, garlic, 2 chillies, and cardamom pods to the pot and toss them with the chicken. Reduce to a medium heat, add all the spices and tomato paste, cook until the spices are fragrant, then add the rinsed rice and coat each grain gently with the spices and tomato mixture. At this point the chicken is partially or completely cooked, pour the hot boiling water and the remaining two whole chillies, making sure that the water is slightly above the rice level. Cook on high heat covered for 7 minutes or until the water level is even with the rice, then lower the heat and let it cook for 20 minutes. After, 20 minutes on low heat check your rice. It should be fluffy as each grain would have soaked up the water. Serve with shatta sauce.

Umm Ali is a must have dessert and loved by all.


It is an Egyptian dessert delicacy and a scrumptious version of a bread pudding served with a dollop of whipped cream. A dessert that’s a must have and loved by all.


• 3/4 cup condensed milk

• 3 cups milk

• 1/4 cup sugar, (and more

to garnish)

• 4 tablespoons slivered almonds

• 1 tablespoon raisins

• 2 tablespoons pistachios, chopped

• 3 tablespoons desiccated coconut powder

• 200g puff pastry sheet, torn to pieces

• 1 cup heavy whipping cream

• Saffron strands, a few


To begin making Umm Ali, in a large saucepan, add half of the condensed milk, milk, 1/4 cup sugar and keep stirring till the sugar is dissolved. Mix all the nuts and desiccated coconut to the saucepan, mix well till combined and set it aside to cool a bit. Preheat oven for about 10 minutes at 175°C. Meanwhile, grease a square shaped baking dish then line up torn puff pastry on it. Bake at same temperature for 18 minutes or till all the puff pastry gets all puffed up in the baking dish. Pour the warm milk mixture with nuts. Let it soak well. Meanwhile, in another bowl, add cream, remaining condensed milk, saffron strands and sugar. Now pour it on the baked puff pastry on top. Garnish with remaining nuts and saffron. Bake Umm Ali on 175° C for 20 minutes or till golden colour on top. Serve warm.

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