In Salalah, Oman the annual khareef season turns the sandy, mountainous landscape of this enchanting…
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When you freelance and travel, you usually spend a lot of time in countries other than your own. So sometimes get to see how the local people celebrate their holidays. One holiday I’ve been able to experience in the Middle East was Eid al Adha. I traveled to the exotic little city of Salalah, Oman during this period where I learned all about a holiday treat famous in the Arabian Gulf region – Omani halwa.
What is Eid al Adha?
Eid al Adha is Arabic for the Festival of the Sacrifice. Eid means happiness. The holiday Eid al Adha is a festival of happiness in which the Muslim world celebrates happiness by sharing it with others. During Eid al Adha (called Eid for short) Muslims bestow gifts on family and friends. These gifts sometimes come in the form of sweets.
Omani Halwa in Salalah, Oman
One of the most popular Eid al Adha sweets in the Middle East is halwa. People of the Arabian Gulf region in the Middle East know that the absolute best version of halwa you can find is Omani halwa, created and sold in an exotic little city in Oman called Salalah.
Salalah is a really beautiful place, located in the Dhofar region of Oman. Both times I’ve traveled to Salalah, it was during the region’s khareef season, when the dry desert transforms into a lush jungle. It is incredible.
The first time I was in Salalah was just before Eid in October of 2010. It was then that I learned all about the sugary sweet halwa from my Omani friend Ali.
Riding around Salalah during Eid, I saw windows of sweets shops filled with blue, red and yellow plastic bowls full of the Omani halwa.
Ali and I stopped at one of these sweets shops and sat with the shopkeeper, who served us some samples of the halwa along with cups of strong Omani coffee.
People travel to Salalah from all around Oman as well as from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and other Arabian Gulf countries, to taste this amazing and famous halwa. I was very happy to get to try it and buy some to take with me.
Ali then drove me to one of Salalah’s foremost halwa factories to see how it is made.
Omani Halwa (ingredients according to Ali)
Sugar (3 different types)
These ingredients are poured into a huge boiling vat and cooked for three to four hours. Once the mixture reaches a boil, it is ladled into bowls and then sets into a sort of really delicious jelly.
A solitary man was making the halwa that day in Salalah.
This was fascinating to watch. You can see a video I filmed of the process below.
Once it was cooked, the man poured the hot halwa into bowls.
You don’t eat Omani halwa hot, though. You wait for it to cool, and you refrigerate it. The halwa then turns into a jelly-like substance, and you eat it cold with a spoon.
Not many Westerners travel to Oman at all – even people who work and travel – much less during the Eid al Adha holiday. If you do ever find yourself in the region anywhere near this holiday, though, definitely buy some Omani halwa for yourself and your friends and family back home. You’ve probably never tasted anything quite like this super sweet amazing treat.
Sabina Lohr is a lifelong freelancer turned entrepreneur who created World of Freelancers to help others discover how to work for themselves online and live the freelance lifestyle. She’s always really enjoyed the freedom that freelancing brings, including several years on and off of working online while traveling and living abroad.