Oman dining: The Jungle, local flavour, global cuisine
December 25, 2017 | 8:14 PM
by Gautam Viswanathan
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‘In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight...” Many remember that famous refrain from the Lion King, few will ever forget it. My colleagues and I recently did travel to a jungle, but thankfully for us, it wasn’t the one Timon and Pumbaa were singing about.

No, this was the Jungle Restaurant in the heart of Muscat. Located in the green, leafy environs of Qurum Natural Park, the Jungle has made a name for itself as a place which offers the perfect dining experience for friends and family.

When we did walk in to the foyer of this famed destination, truth be told. I couldn’t help but think of the Lion King, specifically that part in the beginning, when Rafiki holds little Simba and offers him to the heavens.

‘Heaven’ is surely a word I would use to describe the delicious food at the Jungle. Their signature wood-fired pizzas are a must try, and are great as a meal, either solo, if you’re feeling particularly ravenous, or are looking to make it one of many meals to be shared with those close to you.

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We chose the second option, and we’re glad we did, because that meant we’d left room for the Jungle’s inimitable kebab selection, which features an extensive selection of meats, ranging from tried and trusted fare such as chicken and mutton, to more eclectic ones, such as the camel kebab, which was specially made for us at the table.

Jungle’s kebabs are placed in a coal basket, which handily slots in to the middle of your table, ensuring you have a warm and generous supply of good food to last you the entire evening. Vegetarian options are available for all of Jungle’s dishes: all you need to do is ask.

But that kebab selection made up only tasty corner of Jungle’s delicious smorgasbord: their fluffy naans and crispy parathas have earned a reputation for being among the best Oman has to offer, and it isn’t uncommon to see their fragrant and flavourful biryanis and pulao being requested for by nearly every customer, as is their finger-licking good chicken tikka masala, to name but one of their flavourful vegetarian and non-veg options on offer.

The Jungle restaurant in Qurum. Picture Shabin E

In fact, it is this mélange of cultures and cuisines that has made the Jungle restaurant one of Oman’s most sought-after destinations: it is not uncommon to see guests break pieces of fluffy, fresh-made Arabic bread over a traditional Middle Eastern mezzeh platter, only to then dive into a rich panoply of Indian dishes, or enjoy la dolce vita with a generous order of Italian food.

In our case, we decided to finish off our gastronomic round-the-world trip with the restaurant’s famed Umm Ali, which came in three tantalising varieties, each better than the last. My colleagues and I were simply undecided on whether their classic version bettered their coconut and saffron versions, but one thing was certain: all of them definitely did hold their own.

As did their stunning chocolate lava cake. One wasn’t enough, we simply had to go in for another. I’m not talking about a spoonful here, either. I’m talking about a plateful.

Kazi Abdul Wahab, Complex General Manager of Jungle and Al Bahja Hall and Chef Sasi Kumar will ensure that the food is cooked as per wishes of the guests.

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