My Citizens! Your scintillating culinary North Star – the well-spiced and occasionally smoky Suzerain who alone is TFD! – today wishes to issue forth a rare recipe in English for your enjoyment and immediate attention! This slow-cooked leg of lamb from the distant country of Oman is like nothing you have ever experienced!
Oman is a small country in the Middle East that punches far above its weight in the culinary arena!
Omani cuisine is influenced by Arab, Iranian, Indian, Asian, Eastern Mediterranean, and African cuisine, reflecting Oman’s position as a vast trading empire at the intersection of traditional spice trade routes. Dishes are often based on chicken, fish, and lamb, as well as the staple of rice. Most Omani dishes tend to contain a rich mixture of spices, herbs, and marinades.
Pork consumption is forbidden to Muslims in Oman, in accordance with Sharia, the Islamic law. Although Omani cuisine varies within different regions of Oman, most dishes across the country have a staple of curry, cooked meat, rice, and vegetables. Soups are also common and are usually made from chicken, lamb, and vegetables (e.g., smoked eggplant). The main meal is usually eaten in the middle of the day, while dinner is lighter.
Shuwa (BBQ in Arabic) is supremely tender from many hours of low and slow cooking, flavored with a plethora of rare Eastern spices (and a bit of chile heat as well!) and served with rice flavored and colored with the world’s most exotic spice: saffron (as well as a host of other flavorful ingredients).
It is indeed Middle Eastern BBQ, and is even cooked in a similar fashion to Hawaiian Imu pig – traditional chefs cook it in a covered pit in the ground, wrapped in banana leaves for up to 48 (!) hours, though 12-24 is closer to the norm. If you speak harshly to this piece of meat, it will literally fall apart. It is the ultimate get-together celebratory dish in Oman, and there are sadly very few recipes for it in English.
Citizens, you pretty much NEED this in your life. 🙂
As noted in this lightly-edited excerpt from thasneen.com:
Shuwa is not just my family favorite recipe…it’s a whole Nation’s favorite main course. Shuwa is a typical Omani delicacy prepared only on very special occasions. Eid is probably the most common occasion hence “The meat festival.”
The method of preparing shuwa is elaborate. The meat is marinated with spices and then wrapped in sacks made of dry banana or palm leaves. These sacks are then thrown into the underground sand oven, which is covered with a lid and sealed so that no smoke escapes.
In some villages, the meat is cooked for 24 hours while in others it is believed that meat tastes better after 48 hours. The meat becomes extremely tender and it is impregnated with spices and herbs before cooking to give it a very distinct taste, usually served with rice.
For a video description of how Oman BBQ masters make this dish, I think you will enjoy this one I found.
This dish is truly magnificent as part of an unmatched feast when paired with my other favorite Oman dish – the delicious vegetable soup known as Shurbah. The spice mix known as Baharat is not only lavishly used in this recipe, but also in my recent post detailing how to make Bahraini spicy shrimp balls.
Citizens, this is a rare and unspeakably delicious recipe that I hope you will see fit to make this weekend or sometime soon – it is truly one of my favorites!
Battle on – the GeneralissimoPrint
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