Gone are those days when being vegetarian was all about eating greens or some legumes. With so many innovative ways to present vegetarian food, vegetarianism is no more just about eating a handful of vegetables cooked in simple mediocre ways; it has not just become more creative, it’s deliciously made too with immense precision and care.
Seeing the rising number of vegetarians, most of the restaurants in town are gearing up to serve the needs of this new clientele. I was a born hardcore non-vegetarian, and no meal would ever seem complete without a piece of fish and chicken on plate until I started experimenting with global cuisines that were completely different from the ones that I used to have from mom’s kitchen. Most of the dishes were not just new to my palate but some were so different in taste and cooking that at times I had to feign vegetarianism as a defence mechanism against those dishes that I wasn’t sure of. And that’s when I got drawn towards this cruelty-free haute cuisine, where having meatless dishes became more of a choice than a compulsion.
From Pythagoras and George Bernard Shaw to Paul McCartney the tribe of vegetarians have grown over the years who like to sink their teeth into the most delicious food and yet do not have to worry about biting down on a bad piece of meat.
While the Indian vegetarian cuisine is considered to be the highest and the most sophisticated form of vegetarian cooking with elaborate menu, while travelling in other parts of the world I realised that there are many global vegetarian cuisines that are equally delicious and making them involves painstaking and intricate culinary skills.
I wouldn’t have known about this global vegetarian cuisine if I had not stopped at a petrol filling station in a remote town in Czech Republic during one of my holidays. While each one of us quickly grabbed a meaty burger, our guide cum driver, a Czech national, headed towards a different outlet for his bite. Overwhelmed with curiosity we asked him the reason and was surprised to learn that he has been a vegan by choice for years, despite the fact that being a vegetarian in the Czech Republic wasn’t very easy for him in his initial days. “Few years back restaurants here would have hardly any options as vegetarian dishes remained a mere afterthought, but now things have changed,” he said.
And in few days with him I realised getting a vegan meal wasn’t at all difficult in a country where I had thought meat was unavoidable and eating out was always a struggle for those who were vegetarian or were choosy about the meat, like me. From burgers and wraps, to salads and sandwiches it was heart-warming at times to walk into a restaurant and eat vegetarian food. Vegan pizza, with vegan cheese as topping still remain etched in my mind.
Few months back in Muscat, on a visit to the new sushi outlet in town called Sumo Sushi I was totally bowled over by their vegetarians’ options. For me sushi meant fish or seafood and it was quite a surprise to know that there were many varieties of sushi that vegetarians could enjoy.
Be it the Forbidden Roll that is avocado, cucumber and asparagus rolled with black sushi rice and topped with a homemade kozo dressing or Kappa Maki that is cucumber wrapped in sushi rice and surrounded with nori or edible seaweed, choices were plenty at the restaurant. There were even Tofu Steak, Veggie Bento, and more. Similarly at Kusharina, the only Egyptian restaurant in town, the Egyptian specialty Kushari is a pure vegetarian dish. A popular food available in roadside eateries and food stalls in Egypt. This dish is a combination of pasta, rice, and lentil with a spicy topping of tomato sauce and crispy fried onions. It is often served with a spoonful of cooked chickpeas on top.
So whether you are globetrotting or right here in Muscat, it’s no denying that the world is gradually becoming a hot spot for vegetarian cuisine. Eat your way around the world.
Global Vegetarian Fare in Muscat
• Veg Sushi at Sumo Sushi,
Bareeq Al Shatti Mall
+968 2460 7050
• Crispy Fried Vegetables
at Golden Oryx Ruwi,
+968 2470 2266
• Kushari at Kusharina
Qurum, +968 2202 7011
• Enchiladas at Relish, Qurum
+ 968 2456 3656