By: Shaddad Al Musalmy
Two things that culinary enthusiasts frequenting the Muscat Festival will not miss are the Omani halwa and kahwa – the symbol of Omani hospitality.
But don’t forget to sample these inside the bedouin tents set up at Amerat Park, as ambience counts, you see.
According to Humaid al Hajri, who is in charge of the Bedouin Village at the festival, “These tents are a great way for visitors to get first-hand experience of how bedouins live. It is one of the highlights of Muscat Festival and helps visitors experience Omani hospitality.”
The village shows the various aspects of bedouin traditions, from living in a tent, their clothes, handicrafts, to making kahwa, added Hajri.
“Kahwa, the traditional drink is here to stay as it forms an integral part of every Omani household. Omanis make it with a lot of care as it reflects the generosity of any host. To make the beverage, coffee beans are first roasted in a thick-base skillet before they are ground. The ground beans are then added to boiling water along with flavouring agents like cardamom, cloves and a host of other spices,” Hajri explains.
One can see the traditional way of making the beverage in the Omani coffee corner at the festival.
The kahwa is often served with the popular halwa. Abdullah al Balushi, a halwa maker at Amerat Park elaborates, “The halwa is a dessert you will find in every Omani house on all auspicious occasions and festivals.
“The recipe differs according to the variety and proportion of the ingredients used.”
He adds, the taste, consistency and colour of this popular dessert depend on the ingredients used. The yellow halwa gets its colour from saffron and the black one gets it from dates.
“Making halwa requires experience as you need to know the exact measure of the ingredients to be used. We make over 150kg of halwa per day. The black halwa is more popular than the yellow one,” Balushi adds.
The basic ingredients for making Omani halwa are eggs, brown and white sugar, corn flour and fat.
These items are combined to produce a gelatinous sweet, which is then flavoured with spices such as cardamom and saffron.
Fresh rosewater is used to give the sweet its floral smell.
SOURCE: Muscat Daily