Whether you’re searching for a quick bite or have the munchies on a night out, street foods are a rapid way to refuel on the move. Deeba Hassan tucks into the best that Oman has to offer
With a rising population and an influx of tourists seeking out the Sultanate’s hospitality, the demand for instant grub on the go has increased.
There are plenty of well-known fast-food joints dishing up everything from burgers to pizzas, but many hungry customers are searching for something with a bit more local flavour. More and more street vendors are popping up across Muscat and beyond, serving fast food Omani-style. Cafés by the side of the road have even installed hatches to dispense drive-through takeaway meals.
The street food scene in Oman is nowhere near as big as in my home country, India, but it is rapidly expanding beyond the standard falafel and shawarma sandwiches. There’s much more to the Sultanate’s street food than you may think.
Traditional falafel sandwiches are made by wrapping Arabic bread around falafel pieces, adding mayonnaise and lettuce, along with your choice of additional salad or dressing. Elaborate versions can be found at expensive restaurants, but most people prefer this popular snack from a street-corner coffee shop. Remarkably cheap, from 300 baisa, falafel sandwiches are a delicious street item.
Mishkak is made by grilling pieces of marinated chicken, mutton or beef on long wooden sticks, and is hugely popular among young people and commuters in need of a pit stop before the journey home. Individual vendors can be found fanning the flames of their grills at prime spots close to beaches and young hangouts in Muscat. Served hot with tangy tamarind chutney, five sticks cost just 500 baisa, making it a very economical snack. Eat straight from the stick or wrap in fresh, warm Arabic bread.
Potato soup sold on the streets is a far cry from what you’ll find at restaurants or hotels. A mishkak vendor near Al Ghubra beach apparently cooked up this version, sold for 500 baisa. With a little extra pizzazz from lemon and spices, it’s a big hit with customers. Dip your mishkak into the hot soup for a delicious snack.
Shawarma is probably the most popular snack in Oman and almost every Arabic menu will feature it in some form or another. A basic shawarma is made by wrapping Arabic bread around pieces of chicken, mutton or beef with lettuce and tahini, an Arabic mayonnaise. Many sellers add French fries, too. A sandwich costs from 300 baisa.
The Omani Bread Crepe has become extremely popular over the past few years. Paper-thin, crispy Omani bread called khubz rakhal is filled with cheese, honey or egg, or a combination of all three. Some café owners also sell the crepes with a spread of Nutella. Best enjoyed with chai karak, also known as Masala chai tea, crepes are mostly found in the little Karak teashops dotted around the capital and cost from 300 baisa.
Mushaltat is an arab delicacy made using very soft and delicious bread. Normally stuffed with cheese, honey, meat or spinach, mushaltat costs about RO1-1.5 and is great to munch on at any time of the day.