Dina of DinewithDina Instagram fame is in Oman currently and regaling family, friends and her followers on Instagram with her yummy recipes. For Gulf New readers, the British-Omani blogger shares her recipe of Shuwa, an incredible Eid Al Fitr delicacy favoured around the Gulf. Dina has fond memories associated with Shuwa and the festive spirit of Eid.
“Shuwa conjures up the fondest of memories for Omanis and is anticipated by the country every Eid,” said Dina. “Often enough is cooked to serve a whole community, as everyone sits on the floor and picks at the vast platters with their hands in a spirit of togetherness that forgets the troubles of the outside world.”
Shuwa conjures up the fondest of memories for Omanis and is anticipated by the country every Eid. Often enough is cooked to serve a whole community, as everyone sits on the floor and picks at the vast platters with their hands in a spirit of togetherness that forgets the troubles of the outside world.
The centerpiece of Shuwa is a slow-roasted lamb, sheep, goat - or even camel - which is bathed for up to 48 hours in a spice blend. Traditionally the marinated meat, wrapped in banana leaves, and dunked in a date palm bag is placed into a deep fire pit in the ground on the first day of Eid, to be eaten on the last day. This process of slow cooking encases the meat in a decadent and thick crust of spices, beneath which lies the ‘tenderest’ of flesh that falls straight off the bone. But over the years this method has been perfected in a conventional oven.
“Shuwa is best served with saffron or spiced rice and a yoghurt-based salad. The leftovers can be kept till the next day, fried and tucked inside a warm pitta for a mini shawarma.”
Traditional Omani Shuwa recipe from Dina
Serves 6 to 8
Preparation: 12 to 24 hours
Cooking: 4 to 5 hours
1 leg of lamb or 1 sheep shoulder
100ml white vinegar
2 fresh limes
1 tbsp salt
3 tbsp of garlic paste or 10 cloves (mashed)
50ml (1¾fl oz) of vegetable oil
2 tbsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp cumin seeds
5 cardamom pods
1 tsp nutmeg powder
2 tbsp chilli flakes
In a frying pan, combine all the spices and dry roast in a pan on a medium to high heat, just till it begins to smoke and you can get a strong aroma.
Ensure you keep stirring the spices. Do not leave the heat on for too long as the spices can burn easily, and you’ll be left with a bitter taste.
Place the mixture in a blender and blitz until you have a fine powder.
Combine the spice mix with the vinegar, limes, salt, garlic and oil.
Mix them together well until you have formed a paste. Ideally use a pestle and mortar.
Place your meat inside a roasting tray that is covered in foil.
Using a knife, cut small slits all over the meat to allow the marinade to get inside.
Pour the marinade over and massage with your hands into all the creases, folds and cuts of the meat.
Don’t worry if you have excess marinade left over. Just pour it all over.
To finish, pull the foil from the bottom and wrap it over the meat so it is sealed like a parcel, make sure there are no gaps! We don’t want any juice or air to escape in the cooking process.
Leave to marinate in the fridge for a minimum of 12 hours up to a maximum of 48 hours (you can even marinate and leave it in the freezer till you need it).
Take the meat out of the fridge and allow it to reach room temperature.
Heat the oven to 140°C (275°F).
Cook for approximately five hours.
Your Shuwa is ready, serve it with saffron rice with a yogurt-based salad on the side!
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