Khulja simsim! I don’t even say those words and magic begins unfolding. I share some of it with you… three totally different experiences, three authentic recipes…what they have in common is the sublime, paradise, Oman. Here the vibrant blue sea kisses the dramatic mountains, and the very white, low-rise buildings dot the picturesque landscape. Here, in this harsh, arid desert the cuisine is rich and multilayered and the Omani s friendly and warm.
How do they do it? Contemporary and exotic, world class and authentic, Asian serenity and Arab grace all tango superstylishly in this 21 acres of palmtree lined, beachfront sanctuary.
I cant enough of the Middle Eastern reflecting pools, fountain courtyards or of the Eastern-influenced minimalism Zen pools in the gardens. It’s so calm and relaxed that it’s difficult to believe we are in the middle of the capital city of Oman. I dine in the main restaurant, simply called The Restaurant. Omani arches, four open kitchens (
Indian, Mediterranean, Asian and Arabic) shimmering chandeliers inside and alfresco seating under the glittering stars outside. Here, I not only taste authentic Parsi patranimachi steamed in a banana leaf ( by chef Sunil Thankappan) but also superb Oriental and European delicacies. The dynamic Lore Koenig who helms this oasis of luxurious calm not only peppers our dinner with amazing insights into it but also serves up an unending parade of desserts. For the first time ever, I have French pastry with an Omani sweet ( Chef Gilles Winterberger) generously shares the recipe of the “Pearl of Oman” (with Omani halwa)
THE CASTLE ON THE SEA
It’s on the stunningly blue high-seas that I get an authentic taste of Oman. A thoughtfully prepared breakfast rich with Omani flavors enlivens my trip. We zip back to the arc of the sparkling bay of Al Jissah, I head to the magnificnet Al Husn – inspired by the historic architecture of Omani forts for an amazing Omani lunch conjured by the brilliant Omani chef Shabani and supertalented Michael Pearson. Robustly spiced Lamb Salooni, fragrant rice dish of Kabouli, lamb shuwa dazzle. What amazes is themindblowingly huge choice of cuisines in these three in one Shangrila hotels with stunning views of the coastline. The name Al Husn means “The Fort” or “The Castle” and as I walk through the fusion of Moorish architecture in the style of the Alhambra, under palm trees and through courtyards I am bowled over. I eat the worlds best kunafa at their Moroccon restaurant, Shahrazad, the sweetfleshed Omani lobsters made even more delightful by Merrinnage Shammi De. On my request, they share the recipe of the fragrant Omani Kabouli rice dish.
Home sweet home
To be welcomed into an Omani home is a treat and then to be served up cutting edge Omani food is a super surprise. The vivacious and talented couple Chef Salim Al Kalbani and Amal Al Khabori dazzle. “A passion for foodwhere local flavors are into international Cuisines” is the tagline for their cutting edge culinary creator company named “The Dried lemon”
They transform the humble dried lemon, ( black lemon or Loomie Omani) into a gourmet delight by infusing it into their signature dishes.
And so not only have they been invited and have wowed many an audience in Oman but also in Italy and New york. They are all set to dazzle the world with yet another gourmet surprise…a restaurant!
Today, they’ve share the recipe of the Omani Sawula and Silqah with us.
PS Should you want any of the unique recipes shared by the three please email email@example.com, instagram and tweet @rashmiudaysingh and I’ll send them to you. Happily!