Sunday, August 23, 2009

Dhofari Ramadan Menu - Do you really need 300 bottles of Vimto?

Ok, here it is; Dhofaris exposed at last.

What is it about Ramadan anyway that makes people obsessed with food? Why is it that you spend more on groceries during Ramadan yet you're fasting and you only eat one meal a day? Why is it that every house in Salalah eats the same damn thing every single night of the holy month? They eat the same thing every day for a month, but never during the rest of the year. When am I ever going to figure it out?
Yesterday I walked into the Lulu Centre (our major supermarket) to buy two miserable items; tomatoes and milk. Ok? I should have been out of there in about three minutes, right? Wrong. I swear to you I was in there for 50 minutes, in a lineup of 18 people (note: there are five counters). Every shopper had one or two shopping carts filled with the exact same products. I almost gave up but I really really needed those tomatoes for my Iftar cooking. To kill time, I got out my camera and starting taking photos of the Ramadan displays (see photo)

Yup, what you are looking at my dear friends is the Leaning Tower of Crème Caramel. Believe me, Dhofaris only eat creme caramel in Ramadan. Same with oatmeal, dumplings, vimto, samboosas, jelly, etc. So, what exactly is the Ramadan menu? Let me explain; every afternoon during Ramadan every kitchen in Salalah is busy producing the same dishes. Call to prayer comes at sunset, and everyone gathers around the mat/table to eat the same dishes. I'm telling you, it's true! I've asked all my friends and they all eat the same thing. They have an eating marathon from the moment the call to prayer comes and for about ten minutes until it's time to pray. During those ten minutes, every person will stuff as much food into their face as possible, and in no particular order. It's a free for all. You want to eat jello with your samboosa? Go ahead! How about watermelon and beef soup? Be my guest.

Dhofari Iftar Menu: The Everyday Basics:

Samboosas سمبوس (usually filled with spicy vegetables and ground beef)

Luqaymat لقيمات: (sweet dumplings dipped in sugar syrup)

Soup شوربة: ( Ramadan soup made with beef, vegatables and oats. Quite delicious with lemon)

Vimto فيمتو: (red poison)

Coffee & Dates

Thareed ثريد : (a traditional Omani dry bread soaked in a beef sauce. Tasty)

Sandwiches: (usually most families will have an assortment of small sandwiches)

Creme Caramel!

Custard مهلبية


Usually a dish of spicy macaroni

Watermelon (to ensure you have the worst case of Digestive Volcanos in the history of mankind)

Kindly note that all of this is eaten at the same time. Some families are brave enough to introduce new dishes to this menu. Lots of families have a variety of cold desserts (usually a mix of creme caramel, custard, jello, swiss rolls and dream whip. Lots and lots of dream whip). Also note, dear friends, that most families will have a heavy meal of rice and meat/chicken later on in the night (anytime between 10 p.m and 1 a.m). I can only imagine what their sleep/dreams must be like after such a heavy meal. Oh, well. This is our culture. We developed these odd eating habits (our ancestors certainly didn't eat like that) somewhere over the past 20 years I suppose. What do you eat in Ramadan? Give me proof that there are people out there that eat normally!



  1. LoL, Guess what? Fish & Salad is a must eat dish in the Iftar menu, believe or not! This usual for many families hailing from Batinah & Sharqiyah regions. Don't get surprised if you are ever invited to have fish for the Iftar!
    With regards to Vimto (Red poison :-) , I still can't figure out why people can't afford to drink it outside Ramadhan time. Anyone knows?
    Mr D

  2. Mr.Dr,

    The thought of fish for Iftar is .... is .... disturbing. Very very disturbing. Oh my.

  3. Asalaam Alekum!

    You are too funny! I was really laughing out loud reading ur description of how all those unusual items are eaten together! I wonder if antacid pills are also a big seller there. But, I do think all Muslim countries(sadly) have this "tradition" of Ramadan-only meals/snacks - things they only eat in Ramadan. But jello and samboosa is new for me! Happy Ramadan!

  4. Thanks Baji! It's a tradition in Ramadan to eat too much of everything. Some call it the famine attitude. When the call to prayer is heard, it's as if they'd never seen food before in their lives.

  5. I was speaking to Royal's distributor in Oman (Royal is the company that makes Jello, Cream Caramel and all the other crap), they told me that 90% of the brand's sales are in Ramadhan. The rest of the year is negligible.

    I don't understand where Omanis got these stupid eating habbits. It's definitely not tradition. In my family we still don't do none of that. At iftar we just have some dates and dry nuts. Drink some water or juice, and have some coffee. We pray and then have a normal like what we have on any other day. And that's it till the next day. We don't have su7oor either. Anyone who wants to have a midnight snack can go to the kitchen and make themselves a snack or heat some left overs. THat's it.

  6. Wats d point of fasting if you are stuffing yourself in the morning

  7. i've been keeping this link about Omani food open in my browser for a few weeks now:

    I was hoping that during ramadan all sorts of ramadan only dishes/drinks come out, like harees, tashreeb, qamardeen, karkade...

  8. I agree on the red poison :) Vimto is so nasty. My Somali friends buy it during Ramadan too. Ditto for the Sambusas. They are so yummy though.
    I can never eat more than 1 meal after fasting all day. It doesn't make sense to eat another huge meal only a couple hrs. after the 1st one. Kind of defeats the purpose of fasting all day if you ask me.

    I never eat suhoor when I fast either. I just drink as much water as I can hold since that's more of a concern to me.

  9. @ Muscati Dude! Hey, your first comment. I'm honored. You should have informed me beforehand so I could prepare my virtual red carpet. Interesting about the Royal distributor; so do they actually 'make profit' in Oman or not? Is Ramadan enough for the rest of the year. My family does the same thing as yours. We just have a simple meal and whoever wants to have a snack before Fajr can.

    As Stacy & Scarlet, stuffing your face all night kinda defeats the purpose of fasting.

    @ Boxter, I'll check out the link. Qamardeen is very Egyptian isn't it? I love it! So is Karkade.

  10. Sis,

    Great job!

    I really like your blog content.

    Keep it up.


  11. Hey Bader, thanks for the comment. Welcome to Dhofari Gucci :)

  12. One of my friends is in the food distribution business to all the big supermarkets.

    He says they do about 3-4 months worth of normal business in Ramadan. Across the board - meat, eggs, rice, pasta, vegatables, etc etc etc.

    Is a lot of this food being thrown away? I find it hard to understand how we could actually eat on average 3 times as much food in a month. And that's without counting the Ramadan special foods!

    "Leaning tower of creme caramel" - LMAOFOFL

  13. Undercover Dragon LMAO, yes a lot of food does get thrown out which, again, defeats the purpose of the month of worship, right? I guess once you realize you can't eat for a month, you become obsessed with consuming as much food as possible. You spend most of your time thinking about food and all the delicious dishes you're going to invent. All kitchen creativity occurs in Ramadhan.

  14. Hello, I came across you blog via 'scarlet pimpernel'. I love getting to know different cultures and your blog brings just that to us living here in Europe. Your country looks amazing and the food sounds delicious to me.
    Happy Ramadan.

  15. I think many people just *kill* the true meaning of Ramadhan. I remember growing up people would(and still do)cook alot and only to throw away most of it. I try to make 3 dishes and in few quantities. I make shurba(cracked wheat,meat,onions,garlic,tomatoes and spices cooked together for some time)and yes, you add some lemon too. We also make luqaymat but we call it qaymati. LOL. I rarely make that(maybe once a week). My motto is only to make one sweet dish and maybe 2-3 spicy/salty ones. I don't make rice for late night(I know lots of family members who do and wake up to eat that!). Whatever snacks I made for iftar is eaten if one wants to have something(usually my husband has a piece of samosa with tea and that's it). I wake up to have a glass of milk and lots of water, lol. SF

  16. Hahah! Very true.
    My family eats light, we hate dates and Qahwa, pray then we have our main meal [At least for the most of us] We eat shorba, it's really the main dish and I have it with grilled Haloumi and Parsley sambosa. Watermelon IS a must. Each one of us likes different types of Sambosa, my brothers eat grilled cheese sambosa, my dad vegetable sambosa and fish sambosa, my mum likes them fried. In addition to that, we have a new type of finger food. Today, it was fried meatballs.

    We each wake up to drink water or juice or milk, my father however had dinner at around 10.

  17. SF - your meals sound totally logical

    Ju - Glad you enjoyed my blog. I have yet to discover if you have one. I'm going to check out your profile in a few minutes! :)

    Dhofari Chick - Parsley & Cheese sambosa?? I've been looking for a recipe for that for AGES. Do you have one? Regards, Greedy Nadia

  18. This post made me sad for how our culture is becoming =( Ramadan has become all about food, tv series and late night outings.

    The Parsely and Cheese samboosa sounds yummy though, would love the recipe as well

  19. Ok, Dhofari Chick, you've got two people begging for the recipe. Give in!

  20. Oh Nadia, you made me laugh! I live in Muscat and the supermarkets are exactly the same now. Keep up the good work - the light stuff and the serious!

  21. Nadia, keep up the good work. I just discovered your blog and found that I identify with most of the things you said and I enjoy reading your posts!

    Your blog goes into my RSS reader :)

  22. Magnus! The name of the magician I always wanted to be. Magnus. Hah. Memories.

  23. In our community fasting and feasting happen differently.

    After the previous night's dinner, till to-night dinner we are not supposed to take any food that is processed (in whatever fashion it may be). However food (read: fruits) in raw form is acceptable, but in acceptable quantities that will support your system without collapsing and let you stay devouted to the "cause" that you are fasting for; thinking of God and doing good deeds.

    Had it not being for this "acceptable ammount", then the person would have his devoution towards hunger and the need to satisfy the hunger as soon as possible and defeat the very purpose of fasting.

    Still there are people who do it without taking acceptable quantities and still survive and meet the purpose.

    And fasting is not month long period. It is once a week or fortnight. And this method has proven to stablise the metabolism, which otherwise would have worn down during the week or fortnight by modern eating habbits.

  24. Anonymous, what community are you describing? I'm curious.

  25. I will let you guys know about the recipe when I get it!

    It's my favourite sambosa!

  26. Well, get moving! Then I'll post it, all copyrights reserved to you :)

  27. Then there is Hareesa served in Masjid AlHuda commonly known as Hamdan Masjid after Maghbir Prayers

    Luv u Salalah!!!!

  28. Just found out this site,

    So comments come way after ramazan has passed

    Nevermind !!!!!!