Watch: How Shuwa is made

TimesTV Saturday 08/June/2019 09:48 AM
By: Times News Service
Muscat: Shuwa is a traditional Omani meat dish cooked in an underground oven during Eid.

It makes for a beautiful set of communal traditions where each member has a task.

Different families have their own recipes for shuwa, but all of them share these steps:

Marinate the meat in a spice blend paste (bizaar) with spices, garlic, vinegar, and tamarind.

Layer the meat in a sack made of date tree leaves (khassfa), seperated by banana leaves soaked in water.

Take the sacks in an underground firewood oven (tanoor) and place them inside.

Seal the tanoor so that no air can enter and the steam is trapped inside.

Wait for at least 24 hours and no more than 48 hours.

Remove the sacks, open, and serve the meat with plain white rice.

Times of Oman joined a household in Muscat to find out what makes theirs special.

One of the men in the family is in charge of this household's Bizaar, or spice blend paste.

He said: "I learned this from my mother, who learned it from my grandfather, so it's passed through a few generations already. I've been making it for over twenty years, and am now passing it on to my nephews."

Making the Bizaar starts over a month before the shuwa enters the tanoor, according to him.

"A month before, you place dates, garlic, and pepper in a special container and is left to ferment for a month. The liquid that leaves is like a vinegar, which we use for the bizar.

"The Bizaar itself contains Kumin, added to a basic spice blend, tumeric, black pepper, tamarind, and garlic. The Bizar is never cooked beforehand in this family."

Khalil, who is 15 years old, told Times of Oman. "When I began helping five years ago, I was only allowed to prepare Mishkaks and couldn't help with the back then Shuwa. Now, my job is to score the meat and, after it's been spiced, we put it in the Khassfa (sacks made of date leaves)."

For Khalil, the day of preparing Shuwa starts early.

"I spend the first night of Eid at my grandparents' house, then we wake up and start to work on scouring and putting the meat in the Khassfa," he said. "It feels more like a job than anything else."