Jan 30, 2008
del_yahi

Kofta with Zucchini Sauce

Kofta

An exotice Arabic dish we cooked earlier this month, takes about an hour to make, and is recommended for larger gatherings.

Ingredients

Kofta

  • 1 Kg minced beef
  • 2 tbs finely chopped parsley
  • 2 tbs finely chopped scallions
  • 1 small minced red onion
  • 1 tbs of cinnamon
  • Salt/pepper

Zucchini Sauce

  • 4 medium zucchinis
  • 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 6 chopped cloves of garlic
  • ½ tbs of crushed red chili
  • 2 tbs chopped parsley
  • ½ tbs chopped mint
  • 2 tbs of balsamic vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt/pepper

Method

  1. Mix well all the ingredients of the Kofta. Create finger shaped (or balls) of the mix. Put a little bit of oil on a non-stick frying pan and start frying the kofta until it is well done. (It is also possible to grill the kofta instead of frying it if you would rather do that instead).
  2. For the zucchini sauce, add some olive oil to a saucepot and sauté the garlic and the red chili for 3 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and after a minute add all the chopped tomatoes with the bay leaves. Wait until the sauce starts to boil then cover the saucepot and put it on the lowest flame for 10 minutes.
  3. Cut the zucchini to small pieces and sauté it in the same pan you used for frying the kofta . Keep sautéing the zucchini for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the zucchini, parsely and mint to the tomatoe sauce in the saucepot. Add some salt and peper as desired to the sauce. Cover the sauce pot and leave it on a low flame until the zucchini is well cooked.
  5. Place the kofta on the serving plate and pour the sauce on top of it.
Jan 18, 2008

Review: Nando’s – Al Qurum Commercial Area

Nandos - Muscat

Nandos is a spicy grilled chicken restaurant in the Qurum Commercial Area right in front of the CCC. The cuisine of Nandos could be said to be Portuguees with an African twist, and is loved internationally by its fans in a cult-like manner. The restaurant closed down after the cyclone Gonu hit Muscat last year and only opened up on Eid last month. It looks different and nicer now, but a bit tighter in space as well

Nandos

Nandos in the Middle East is different from branches abroad in that it is a proper dine-in restaurant, you do not go up to the counter and order in Oman, you get seated, the menu comes, and then you order the same way you would do at a Pizza Hut or a Chilli’s. I loved the atmosphere of the restaurant in places where you had to almost serve yourself, get the sauces, cutlery, and everything else and think that Nandos is ‘almost’ boring here because of this, but I guess that it might not work in the Middle East because of culture differences.

Nandos - Humous - Oman

Nandos menu is made up mostly of chicken dishes. For starters, they have chicken liver, chicken wings, corn, mixed olives, and humous. I think that I tried them all, and my favourite is the humous which comes with a bit of Nandos spicy sauce and a deliciously tender pita bread.

Nandos Quarter Grilled Chicken - Oman

The famous main course of Nandos is grilled chicken which you can order either as a quarter, a half, or a whole chicken marinated with the level of spiciness you choose: Lemon and Herb, Mild, Hot, and Extra Hot. The Extra Hot is probably way too hot for many, start with Mild even if you are a fan of spicy food. Nandos is very famous for its spicy sauces that you should find on the table, there are various ones which you should try out if you’re there.

Nandos - Chicken Breast in Pita - Oman

Other main courses served at Nandos include chicken burger, chicken breast in pita bread (pictured above) , chicken rolls, chicken strips with rice, and espitada – which is a dish of grilled chicken cubes served with cooked vegetables. (pictured below) Some meals such as the burger and beast in pita come with Nandos spicy mayo which you could also order separately as a dip. Many of the dishes come as meals that let you pick one or two sidelines to have with the chicken, these sidelines include chips, rice, and coleslaw.

Nandos Espetada - Oman

Starters at Nandos cost about RO1, while a main course meal for one person costs between RO2 to RO3 – taxes excluded.

We are happy to have Nandos again in town after Gonu, many of the people that went to it in the few first days did not seem to be happy with the service, and I was not happy with the food either, but the last time we went to it for dinner a couple of weeks ago everything was perfect. If you have not tried Nandos you should surely give it a try.

Jan 1, 2008

Review: Allaudin (Omar Al Khayyam) – Al Khuwair

Allaudin - Omar Al Khayyam

Allaudin is an Indian-Chinese restaurant located in Al Khuwair next to the traffic lights of Madinat Sultan Qaboos (MQ). The name Allaudin is the new brand of the restaurants of the Omar Al Khayyam group, a very old local restaurant chain.

Allaudin - Omar Al Khayyam

Omar Al Khayyam is of the same class as restaurants such as Spicy Village, Grill House, and Al Akhatham, they serve almost the same exact menu at very similar prices. If restaurants were to have ratings, the restaurants above would have 3-star ratings. Nothing fancy, but clean enough to some extent to dine in. Allaudin is relatively spacious, the place is decorated with elephants and other Indian-looking artifacts at the entrance. It has a private dining room upstairs.

Allaudin - Omar Al Khayyam

We went to Allaudin for dinner and ordered Chili Beef, a dry dish of small beef shreds cooked with spicy herbs and chili, it was hot as expected of an Indian restaurant in a good way – and that required the use of a box of tissues. We also ordered humous, naan and paratha bread, which all were quite good. For the drinks I had lemon juice, which was not that good, but I guess you can’t ask for much when you pay 200 baisa for a glass.
Allaudin - Omar Al Khayyam

The prices of Allaudin is relatively cheap, we ordered one main course, one humous plate, a mix of breads, one fresh juice, and one bottle of water, and that in total cost us RO 3.400. Overall, dinner at Allaudin was good, we liked the food and we thought that we got what we paid for.

Dec 19, 2007

Review: Woodlands – Sohar

Woodlands Restaurant - Sohar

Fine Indian restaurant Woodlands has opened earlier this year in Sohar. If you are coming from Muscat you have to take the right turn from the Sohar Globe roundabout and then turn left from the first roundabout after it to go towards the new banks district. Woodlands is five minutes from there right before Al Turaif roundabout on the left side of the road. This is the third branch Woodlands opens, the first is in Ruwi in Muscat, the second is in Salalah, and the third most recent one is in Sohar. Woodlands won the Oman2day Restaurant Awards 2007 for the best service category and was a finalist in the best Indian restaurant category (which was eventually won by Mumtaz Mahal).

Woodlands Restaurant

Woodlands Sohar looks nice, it is very spacious and has tables varying in sizes for all sorts of diners. There are also three or four private family rooms with eight seats each. I am not sure of the smoking policy in Mumtaz, but I doubt they allow it. We thought that the staff of Woodlands were all very friendly and caring, though at many times they did not seem to be trained actually well (They surely did not win the award mentioned earlier for their Sohar branch). I’ve only been to the restaurant with my family, yet we were never offered any of the family private rooms before we asked for one. In my most recent visit to the restaurant, each one of us ordered a main course each but when the food came the waiter took one of the food pots and started putting some of it on each of our plates without asking us if we wanted to share it or not. A major third blooper is that there is no way to ask for anything when you dine in a private family room without going out of the room and calling a waiter. Not sure if they are not supposed to check on your in the family rooms for culture reasons or not. Not to say that Woodlands’ service is horrible, they are usually fast and never screw up your food, but occasional bloopers happens quit often probably because the restaurant is relatively new.

Woodlands Restaurant

Woodlands menu is quite large and can be hard to decipher, especially as the person who wrote the menu must’ve had gotten tired halfway through as the first half of the menu has descriptions of each menu item, while the other half has titles only. We asked the waiter for help on several occasions, but the answer he gave always was ‘this is chicken cooked with onion and capsicum, it is a gravy dish’ for half the dishes we asked about, and that was not really helpful. The manager occasionally tours around and he seems to have suggestions on what to have and more things to say about the dishes than newer waiters.

Woodlands Restaurant

Regardless of how much I bitch about Woodlands, it is actually my favourite restaurant at the moment, I love their food. They have a wide set of starters, my favourites are the Crumb Fried Fish and Chicken Lolly Pops (both not pictured), on our last visit we had Fish Tikka (pictured above) which we unfortunately did not like, the fish tasted weird and each piece shattered into threads when we poked it with a fork. The waiter might suggest you take two or three starters at least, even if you are two or three people only, which could be too much if you are going to have a main course each. The best starter we had was the Crumb Fried Fish, be sure to try that one out.

Woodlands Restaurant

We had no complaints about the main courses, everything we tried tasted amazing. We always order the gravy Chicken Manchurian (pictured above) which we thought was rich with flavour and very well done. We usually have this with buttered or garlic naan bread. My personal favourite is the Chicken Biryani (pictured earlier above). I hesitated to have it because I thought it would such a boring dish to have, but now I don’t think that I’ll ever have a Chicken Biryani better than that of Woodlands. It was not too spicy yet very delicious. We tried a Kadai Chicken gravy (pictured below) which was also good. We thought that the potion of food given was very decent.

Woodlands Restaurant

We did not explore the drinks menu of Woodlands and have only been drinking soft drinks during our visits. It is worth mentioning that Woodlands Sohar does not serve alcohol.

Vegetarian dishes at Woodlands cost about RO 2, chicken and meat dishes cost aroud RO 2.5 and sea food dishes start from RO 3. Bread starts from 0.300 a bread. In our very recent visit to Woodlands we had 1 fish starter, 4 main courses, some bread, and 3 soft drinks for about RO 19 – taxes included.

We thought that dining at Woodlands was generally a pleasant experience, disregarding the occasional waiters’ cluelessness of what they menu has. The food is delicious and the place is nice. All of you rich people coming to purchase land plots in Sohar can finally have a good dine-in restaurant to celebrate your new investment in Sohar itself.

Dec 12, 2007

Review: Turkish House Restaurant – Al Khuwair

Turkish House - Al Khuwair

The uncreatively named Turkish House Restaurant is located in the commercial area of Al Khuwair next to Al Liwan shisha joint, it is the most popular Turkish restaurant in town. Turkish House is a proper dine-in restaurant and is not another one of those little generic Turkish coffeeshops/sandwich-shops scattered all over Muscat. Many call it ‘The Fish Place’ for its excellent fish dishes.

Turkish House - Mixed Starter

Turkish House is adored by many, it is normal for people to stand in queue waiting for tables to be available during lunch time. The restaurant has started as a small regular sized restaurant, it expanded in the past when they added the new ‘romantic’ section (as some lame Omanis like to call it) in the back of their main building, and it is currently in the process of taking over the entire floor of its original building. That new section was not yet opened when we visited the restaurant two weeks ago.

The crowd of Turkish House is very diverse, during our stay we say a gathering of some college boys and girls, a table occupied by a family, and a business looking group on the other side. The place seems to attract both Omanis and expats as much.

Turkish House - Naan Bread

The menu of Turkish House shies from being exotically Turkish and mainly consists of generic grilled Mediterranean dishes, which is not necessarily a bad thing at all. Cold Mediterranean starters, salads, grilled dishes, fish dishes, and fresh juices are the main highlights of the menu and they are all usually served with a large naan bread and/or chips.

In my most recent visit to Turkish House I had a humous starter and a dish of chicken kebabs served with chips (not pictured), which was very well cooked, tender, and tasted simply delicious.

Turkish House - Mixed Grill

The service of Turkish House is average I guess, their staff are relatively friendly and seem to know regular customers, but the field at which Turkish House really shines is the food, which is really good.

Prices of Turkish House are moderate, a mixed starter dish (pictured above), a mixed grills dish for two (pictured above), and two fresh juices cost around RO 10. Regular dishes cost around RO 3 and Fish dishes start from RO 6.

Lovers of Mediterranean food, grilled food, and fish should check out Turkish House.

Nov 22, 2007
del_yahi

Recipe: Cheesy Meat Balls

We are not dead!

We apologise for not making any posts for the whole of October. The Omani Cuisine never really stopped during that period, but for various random reasons we never managed to sit down and write what we have been up to. We promise that we will make up for this with regular recipes and reviews from now on. Our latest kitchen adventure is, as we like to call it, a meat ball sub, very fun to make and to eat.

Ingredients (To make four subs)

  • 0.5 Kg of pure minced beef
  • Handful of chopped shallot
  • I teasp of chopped mint
  • Handful of chopped coriander
  • I tsp of Dijon mustard
  • 3 crushed cloves of garlic
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • 2 teasp of cinnamon
  • Crushed red chili
  • Salt/pepper
  • 1 tsp of flour
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • 2 chopped medium sized tomatoes
  • 1 chopped medium sized white onion
  • 1 Lemon
  • Bay leaves
  • Cardamom
  • Cloves
  • Tomato paste

Method

  • Mix the minced meat with the shallots, mint and coriander in a bowl.
  • Add the Dijon mustard, garlic and cheese to the bowl mix.
  • Add 1 tsp of cinnamon, crushed chili, salt, pepper and flour and mix these with all the ingredients well together.
  • Divide the mix into medium sized balls and put them in a fridge for half hour.
  • In the mean time, boil some water (about 1 L) in a pot. Add the remaining cinnamon to the water when it starts boiling. Wait 5 minutes and then add the tomato paste, and the zest and juice of the lemon. Stir the water mix and leave to boil for another 10 minutes. Filter the water to get rid of the hard ingredients and leave the water to be used later.
  • Using another pot, fry the onion in some oil until the onion turns to golden. Add the tomatoes and stir. When the tomato starts drying up add some of the water mix we made in the earlier step(don’t put much water, as it only to make sure the tomato and onion don’t burn). Stir and repeat for a period of 20 minutes.
  • Heat a frying pan and put some butter on it. Get the balls out of the fridge and fry them on the pan while turning the balls around to fry all the surface of the balls. Once the whole surface of all the balls is fried add the vinegar and continue turning the balls around.
  • Start adding some of the tomato/onion mix and the liquid to the meat balls. Keep this process for 15 minutes to fully cook the meat balls.

The meat balls can be served with any kind of plain pasta or to be served as a sub sandwich with chips on the side

Sep 10, 2007

Review: Pane Caldo – Jawharat Al Shatti

Santino’s was recently rebranded as Pane Caldo. The restaurant is still in the same place in Jawharat Al Shatti, but now bigger (they invaded the shop block next to them), they did not change the furniture of the place and there is apparent change in the staff or the ambience of the place either. However, Pane Caldo does seem to have now a more emphasised contemporary image that is less casual and more fancy with their choice of colours and finish-off I guess.

I am not sure if it was just me, or the fact that it was my first time to set at that particular place in the restaurant, but there did not seem to be a lot of private space left between the dinning tables on the center and the left side of the restaurant. It’s true that the place is bigger now, but it still feels very tight because of the number of tables they have inside.

Pane Caldo is not fully open yet, when I was there last week they had a temporary menu that was really difficult to read, we did not know where one item description ended and that of the next started. We did not know which of the numbers were the prices of what meals.

I am not sure of the number of new items were there on the menu, we had for the starter some mushrooms covered in cheese, which I did not like very much (I am no Super Mario), one of us had one of the calamari starters (photographed below).

For the main course we had some sort of ‘red’ pizza that had beef, pepperoni, chicken strips, and tomato slices on it, which I thought was good, but not mind blowing.

The place is still in the process of changing into its new brand, so it is not surprising that their menu is still not fully developed. I do not think that there was an increase in the prices, but I am not really sure of that as I did not actually compare numbers.

Check our previous review of Santino’s here.

Sep 9, 2007

Review: Mumtaz Mahal – Shatti Al Qurum

Mumtaz Mahal is most probably the finest Indian restaurant in town, it is located on the hill behind the Qurum Natural Park and has been in service since the 80s. It is loved madly by the Oman Today magazine as they gave it the award for the best Indian restaurant four times in the five years they’ve been doing their awards.

A review about Mumtaz Mahal is not complete without talking about the location of the restaurant and the view, especially at night when all the blinders that cover the glass walls are lifted to show the view of the road lights and the movement of the cars from above to make a charming sight of the busy life of modern Muscat.

Mumtaz is very spacious with loads and loads of seats, there are also a couple of tables outside the main hall that people sit at when the weather is good. A live band is supposed to perform in the main hall of the restaurant on some days, but I’ve been to the restaurant twice, once on a weekend and another on a week day, and I did not see this band.

The place can easily be fully occupied on any day of the week, when we got there at 7 .30pm yesterday there was barely anybody at the restaurant, but by the time we left around 9.30pm the place was full. It is recommended to book a table in advance instead of showing up expecting to be seated right away. The crowd at Mumtaz seemed to be older than those at the places we previously reviewed with a lot of expatriate families dinning in.

The staff of Mumtaz were very friendly and talkative, at the two times I’ve been to it they helped us with the menu, chatted about India (as if we’ve never had Indian food before?) and even talked about random stuff like cameras and photography. They food did not take a lot of time to get to our table, they literally put the food on our plates and helped us share the starters, we were very impressed.

The menu of Mumtaz is pretty extensive, in addition to their starters they also serve soups, dry tandoor grilled dishes and curry. There are vegetarian stuff in all sections of the menu and a lot of fish and lobster main courses as well. Spicy dishes are labeled with a small drawing of a chili to warn those who cannot handle spicy food.

For the starters we had the three non-vegeterian items they had on their menu, namely Machli Masaledar, these are deep friend fish fingers cooked with spices (the one at the bottom of the place in the image above), Chennai Murg, these are spicy deep friend chicken fillets (on the right side of the plate in the image above) and Murg Methi Kebab, some tandoor flavoured chicken kebabs cooked with some sort of leaves. I liked the chicken fingers more than anything else, the way they were cooked and the way they tasted made it irresistible. The fish fingers came second and the kebabs came third. They all had a hint of spiciness which I did not think was overly hot.

For the main course we had three different chicken dishes, Murg Angaarey – extra spicy tender chicken pieces cooked with garlic, Balti Murg – chicken cooked in traditional North Indian sauce, Chennai Murg Masala – a spicy dish of dry chicken cubes with coconut, curry leaves and black pepper. We also had a bowl of Ghosht Shahi Khorma -a meat dish cooked in gravy sauce with dry fruits and nuts. We ate those with chicken biryani rice and some garlic nan bread.

The food we had was very good, a couple of dishes we had were extra spicy and I would not recommend them for the weak-hearted. For a first timer I would recommend Balti Murg with plain rice or chicken biryani rice – you can’t go wrong with the basics!

We checked their dessert menu, they had many variations of Indian sweets with cheese, which we did not try and had instead their ‘home-made’ ice creams, it tasted very *unique* and had some saffron in it.

Mumtaz is obviously more expensive than the majority of Indian restaurants in town, the starters cost about RO 1.5 to RO 2 each, while vegeterian, chicken, and meat main courses cost RO 2.5 to RO 4, and sea food dishes cost RO 5 to RO 8.

Mumtaz is also a licensed restaurant, we were probably the only table that did not order any alcohol, you see bottles of wine coming and going all the time. A guy on a table next to us ordered some sort of pinched coffee which was made live right next to him.

We thought that the experience at Mumtaz was amazing, we had a great time, the food was delicious and the service was very good.

Aug 25, 2007

Review: Dhofar Hotel Restaurant – Salalah

I’m currently in Salalah attending a legal workshop for one week. I’m staying at Dhofar Hotel, a 3-star hotel near the city center. I hate my employer for giving me such a small allowance for this trip. I wish I could sue them. I know I can’t.

Dhofar Hotel is surprisingly so much better than what I expected, but this review is not about the hotel, it’s about their restaurant. The restaurant is on the ground floor of the hotel, it is relatively spacious, and it looks like the restaurant serves some sort of buffet at sometime, probably dinner or something, it was not open for lunch today.

The menu that I was offered at the restaurant was a stapled paper photocopy of the *room service* menu, the menu had cold starters such as salads, Lebanese cold starters, avocado with shrimps, and two hot starters, namely fried vegetarian Lebanese kebbeh and samosas. There are also several types of soups which I did not try. I had a season mixed salad for the starter, it was very simple (cucumber, lettece, and tomato) and felt very fresh.

There are several different main course categories in Dhofor Hotel’s restaurant, these include fried meals (breaded hammour fish, fried chicke, and crumbed shrimps), grilled meals (kababs, lamb chops, shish taouk, and arabic mixed grills), Asian and Indian dishes (biryani meals, friend rice, and noodles – meat, chicken, fish or prawn – the same menu as all the Indian/Chinese restaurants all over Oman.)

I had a chinese chili chicken dish with biryani rice. I also ordered a french fries sideline. I thought that the food was good, the rice, salad, and chips were all amazing, the chili chicken was just okay, it was well cooked, but not spicy enough (no schezwan sauce!) I really loved their french fries though, it was very thick and crunchy, something that you do not easily find in restaurants of this class.

No fresh juices are served at this restaurants, I ended up drinking the usual Mountain Dew. So in total I had one salad, a plate of french fries, chili chicken and biryani rice and all that came out for RO 3.600, for some reason, this included an arbitrary 17% tax. (Don’t know where it came from).

I thought that the service of the restaurant was quite slow even though I was the only customer in the restaurant (it looks like the khareer is already over), but I still think that overall I had a great experience at Dhofar Hotel’s restaurant, the place is very clean and the food was good. It is safe to try it out if you happen to come to this hotel.

Aug 9, 2007

Oman2day Restaurant Awards 2007


Oman2day is currently gathering votes for its restaurants awards for the year 2007, I do not how authentic these awards are, but the mere idea of having such a thing is really amazing. I was asked to fill in the voting form at a couple of places, but I was surprised by the greater number of place that did not ask to vote for them even though I saw piles of the voting form at the cashier’s desk.

Is anybody else excited about these awards? Who will you be voting for?

You can vote online for your favourite restaurants in Oman here.