The most important tip I can give you on Oman local food, and the only one that will make you elevate from being a tourist to becoming a real traveler immersed in the local culture, is “Stay away from McDonalds“. When visiting Oman, there is awesome local food to try. Head to the local eateries too, and go where the locals go. For me, the food, wine and and even the water is part of the travel experience.
What to Eat in Oman
The food is mainly Arabic, Lebanese, Turkish, and Indian. Many Omanis make a distinction between “Arabic” food and “Omani” food, with the former being the description of the standard dishes found throughout the Arabian Peninsula. Omani food tends to be less spicy and served in quite large portions – whole fish are not uncommon at lunch in some local restaurants (sticking to local food, it is quite easy to eat a substantial meal for less than OR2). As benefits of a country with a long coastline, seafood is quite a common dish, particularly shark, which is surprisingly tasty. True traditional Omani food is hard to find in restaurants.
Omani sweets are well-known throughout the region, with the most popular being “halwa”. This is a hot, semi-solid substance which behaves a little like honey and is eaten with a spoon. The taste is similar to Turkish Delight. Omani dates are among the best in the world and can be found at every social place and at offices. American fast food chains, especially KFC, McDonalds, and Burger King, are not hard to find in the bigger cities, especially Muscat and Salalah. In Khaboora you can get Pakistani Porotta.
They are double the size of Indian Porottas and look like pappadams. But they taste like porottas and are much thinner and delicious. Three porottas are available for the equivalent of Rs11. Traditional Omani Khubz (bread) is hard to find outside of an Omani home, but for an experience one should try hard not to miss. This traditional bread is made of flour, salt and water cooked over a fire (or gas stove) on a large metal plate. The bread is paper-thin and crispy. It is eaten with almost any Omani food, including hot milk or chai (tea) for breakfast– “Omani cornflakes”. In Sohar you may get an excellent lunch with Ayla curry, Ayla fry and Payarupperi.
Expect to pay only 400 Baisa (Rs44) which is considered very low lunch price here. A good bet for budget travellers are the many ‘coffee shops’ which are usually run by people from the Indian sub-continent and sell a mixture of Pakistani/Indian and Arabic food, dishes mostly cost one rial or less, especially ‘sandwiches’ which can be around 200 or 300 baisa. They usually sell falafel, which is a good and cheap vegetarian option. Their actual coffee is often uninspiring Nescafe but their tea reflects their sub-continental management in being masala chai.
What to Drink in Oman
egal drinking/purchasing age of alcoholic beverages is 21, one of the highest in the world. Bottled drinking (mineral) water is easily available at most stores. Tap water is generally safe; however, most Omanis drink bottled water and to be safe, you should too. Alcohol is available only in select restaurants and large hotels and is usually very expensive (ranging from 1.5 Rial for a 500ml Carlsberg to 4 Rials). Drinking alcohol in public is prohibited, but you can get your own drinks and enjoy at public areas but in privacy such as camping by beaches, sands, mountains, or actually in any remote areas. Only foreign residents can buy alcohol from alcohol shops and with certain limits.
Residents need personal liquor licenses to consume alcohol in their private residence(s). But an alcohol black market is widely spread around the cities and alcohol can be found easily. Foreigner travellers are allowed 2 litres of spirits as duty free baggage allowance. Travellers can pick up spirits at the duty free shop in the arrival lounge. During Ramadan, drinking anything in public is prohibited, even for foreigners. Take care to drink in the privacy of your room.
Other local foods, or drinks that you recommend? Please add and comment.