Any way you wrap it, the humble shawarma is an icon in the annals of Middle East street food, with myriad regional varieties vying for top spot in the bellies of the masses. Here are some of our favourite spots in Muscat to grab a mighty wrap of your own,
Greece has its juicy gyros; Turkey, its iconic doner kebab; Canada, it’s spicy-sweet donair. Any way you carve, slice or slather it, the formula for some of the world’s best street food always boils down to the same set of criteria: it must be fast and simple, it must be flavourful, and you’ve got to be able to eat it on the go.
And if there’s one ultimate contender at the tasty top, it’s the humble, hand-held shawarma – a rite of passage to the cuisine of a region as vast as it is diverse. The options (and regional rivalries!) are endless when it comes to what constitutes the perfect shawarma. Maybe you’re a lover of the Egyptian version slathered in tahini; or the Lebanese variety topped with fresh tabbouleh, extra garlic mayo and a handful of fries.
While preference is down to a matter of taste, the basic shawarma is – at its most elemental – thinly-sliced shavings of succulent chicken, lamb or beef cooked on a vertical rotisserie, smeared with fresh and/or pickled veg, and topped with a finger-licking, chin-dribbling sauce – usually tahini, garlic mayo or the more fiery garlic paste. Its construction is about as simple as it gets yet its flavour profile is one that exudes surprising complexity.
Foodies are a fiercely vocal lot. Get wind of a good shawarma joint and you won’t stop hearing about it. Know of a bad shawarma spot and, chances are, you won’t stop hearing about it either. Thankfully, Yummy Oman is here to bring you only the best.
Location: Al Dhayafa St., Al Ghubra North, beside the Indian School Muscat
Timings: 9:00 a.m. till 2:00 a.m., daily
Contact: (+968) 9972-7599
This shawarma stalwart sprang from humble beginnings to reign supreme on Muscat’s foodie scene. It’s not-so secret secret? Simple, flavoursome fare that’s as cheap as chips. Expect line-ups on the weekend for takeaway and table service as the masses come flooding in for helpings of their roasted chicken and shawarma plates and their falafel. Portions are generous, as are the sides of hummus, baba ghanoush and fattoush; and it’s wee-hours closing time makes it a perfect stop on the way home after a night on the town.
Must-try: While chicken – roasted, grilled or shawarma-style – is their most-popular menu item. It’s the fluffy-soft, chewy pitta-style bread that makes the whole experience. Made in-house, it’s the perfect vehicle to sop up all those succulent shawarma juices or daub and dip with a fresh bowl of moutabel. Trust us; you won’t be able to get enough of it.
Location: Al Khuwair, opposite the Radisson Blu
Timings: Open 24 hours daily
Contact: (+968) 2448-0900
This round-the-clock rotisserie has been carving up some of Al Khuwair’s best shawarmas at pocket-friendly prices for the past ten years. With ample outdoor seating it’s the perfect spot for grab-and-go goodness – and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a meal for two that runs into more than RO10. And while their shawarmas are the stuff of legend, their shish tawook and mixed grill platters are also stellar, while their lamb chops fall off the bone.
Must-try: The hummus shawarma plate and Turkish kebab are comfort foods at their finest. Or, amp it up if you’re feeling like a kick to the palate with a portion of their Sikander Donor shawarma.
Location: Madinat Qaboos, next to the Al Maha petrol station
Timings: 6:00 a.m. till 2:00 a.m., daily
Contact: (+968) 2469-9029
A consistent crowd-pleaser among the capital’s foodie faithful, and known for its spicy brand of shawarma, Al Hawas is a family-run establishment that’s been around since 1983. With time on its side, and countless shawarmas served, it still remains one of Muscat’s top contenders for your rials when it comes to cheap and cheerful fare, served fresh. Service is fast and simple, like any good street food locale should be as you can simply drive in, park, and eat. The chicken served in their shawarmas is perfectly-marinated and grilled to a light golden char. Slathered with lashings of their secret house-made spicy sauce and you’re in hand-held heaven.
Must-try: No matter what you order, you’ve got to ask for it spicy. And for the vegetarians among you, their Spicy Falafel Shawarma is absolutely top-drawer!
Some might argue that a shawarma is only as good as its star condiment – and this simple, zesty-zingy garlic mayo ties those flavours all together.
• 6 Tbsp mayonnaise
• 2 large garlic cloves, pressed
• 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
• 1 tsp, plus 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
• Whisk mayonnaise, garlic, lemon juice and 1 teaspoon oil in small bowl to blend.
• Season with salt and pepper.
• Garlic mayonnaise can be made six hours ahead. Cover and chill.