Picture yourself cooling off with your ice-cold soft drink and a couple of chargrilled lamb chops at the beach. How perfect. Unfortunately, that is far from reality for those of us living in Oman, where summertime means adjusting one’s diet and meals to survive the excruciatingly hot weather. So let’s explore some great summer alternatives.
For food-loving people like myself, we have to find ways to satisfy our passion for exploring the restaurant culture in Oman, and there are plenty of places where you can satisfy your cravings.
To cope with summer, we have to go to places that serve refreshing drinks, colourful smoothies, hydrating fruits, and healthy greens. These four categories should be your go-to options in the next few months. Why? Because these foods are full of hydrating agents and can be customised to your liking. Whether you are dining out or making them at home, these foods are definitely the fuel you’ll need to feel fresh and cool for the summer. Let’s dive right in.
Refreshing drinks and tasty smoothies
It goes without saying that keeping yourself hydrated is a priority, and for foodies we love our drinks. Instead of having sugar-loaded juices, opt for drinks that will quench your thirst, while entertaining the taste buds at the same time. We have a variety of places that serve delicious, freshly-squeezed juices. You can go to Mango Talaat (available across Muscat), where they offer nearly all favourite fruits in a cup or a carved fruit, with its chunks dipped into the drink. Though the name of the place has mango on its board, try and avoid it, as it is super sweet and will keep you thirsty. Try their citrusy juices, melons, passionfruit, and berries. Or order my absolute favourite: sugar-free avocado with milk and crushed ice. Other notable places include Al Sham Juices in Al Khuwair and Emoji Cafe in Al Mawaleh, where both serve fresh juices that are delicious.
If you feel dehydrated, stop at a cafe near petrol stations and order coconut water; it’s a natural drink that hydrates the body quickly and also tastes amazing.
Another favourite drink to have during summer is iced tea. Ditch the commercial, sugary drinks and go for herbal and flavoured iced teas. It’s a true thirst quencher and an ideal choice for this extreme weather. Almost all cafes, such as Starbucks, serve green teas. Just ask for yours iced and without sugar, and you’ll love it. It kind of tastes like a cooling flavoured water. If you are more into designer, loose leaf kinds of teas, then there’s Fauchon at Opera Galleria, where they have many flavoured teas to choose from, as well as Chado Tea Lounge in Qurum and The Tea Shop at Al Muzn Mall in Al Hail. Get yourself a pack of your desired tea, and have an afternoon iced-tea party at home. Again, sugar free, if possible.
Now, smoothies are also popular in town, especially during summer. Again, avoid the super-sweet fruits and chocolate-based drinks, and instead order melons and berries for a tasty drink. All the places mentioned above serve delicious smoothies, as well. And, if you want a little sweet or crunchy kick in your smoothie, go to Pinkberry at Muscat City Centre and Oman Avenues Mall and order their plain yoghurt dessert with fruits on top.
Other Places: The Crafty Kitchen, The Tea Library, Dukanah Cafe, and Chatime.
Colourful greens and light mains
When it comes to eating, Omanis love our rice a bit too much, but it’s best to avoid such heavy foods, at least in the coming three months, but choose lighter meals that have less fat, or fewer carbohydrates. My least favourite dish of all time is salad. I loathe eating plain greens, but I learned to love them by adding interesting toppings that offer intriguing flavours to boring greens. I love adding pomegranate seeds, fruits, such as slices of green apples and melons, crunchy toasted bread pieces and crumbs, refreshing dips and dressings, roasted nuts, and lots and lots of cheeses, such as goat cheese, blue cheese, and even feta. All these ingredients can elevate your salad experience, which you need to have during this season. All leafy greens get a pass when it comes to salad. So indulge without guilt.
Who said that salads are either eaten at home or as a side dish at a restaurant? Instead of having burgers and biryanis (which are to die for), order salads as your main dish. In Muscat, we have many places that serve salads as mains, or even if it’s served as a side, order it as a main dish.
Salad Boutique is the go-to place for delicious salads, as they are served as a main dish. The Kuwaiti franchise, located in Madinat Sultan Qaboos, has a variety of options on its menu, from salads with steak slices to plates full of berries and cheeses. Another place for killer salads is Paul restaurant at Muscat Grand Mall and Muscat City Centre, where they serve garden-fresh greens with delicious toppings, such as smoked salmon, fruits, and lots of avocado. It’s one of our absolute favourite places for a refreshing, easy-on-the-stomach lunch. They have delicious sandwiches, too.
Other Places: Copper’s, Laval, and Mani’s.
TIP: You might want to avoid caffeine based drinks, fried foods and other junk food and, most importantly, sugary sweets, at least until August. —[email protected]