Muscat: In continuation with the current trend of a new normal surfacing each passing day, one more new norm has come up – homemade food that’s catered to mainly friends and family.
Shaikha, an Omani lady who stays in Seeb town, is known in her family and friends’ circle as an excellent cook. When the pandemic made WFH (Work from home) a household word, Shaikha’s friends who were working in the private sector as well as in government offices, found it difficult to manage the housework, kids at home and work from home. “I had made harees one day and sent it to my cousin who was pregnant. She spoke so much about it to her friends that they asked me if I could make for them too and they were willing to pay,” said Shaikha “Soon enough I had many of my cousins and friends placing their order of favourite dishes. They know the strict hygiene rules I follow and the ingredients I use, as I am also very mindful of using less oil and less processed ingredients.” Shaika has a live-in maid, who helps with all the preparatory work.
The home-cooked food has been around for some time, but the pandemic has made it more appealing due to the personal hygiene factor and the healthy options that can be further customised.
Shilpa, a resident in Oman for 25 years, who stays in the old town area of Muscat, is popular with the Gujarati snacks and theplas, she supplies regularly to her friends and extended family members. A Gujarati herself, Shilpa confirms that there is increased demand these days for her farsans. At 50, the slim and agile Shilpa does the kitchen work completely by herself, with just a little help from her son, who manages a supermarket nearby.
For the many die-hard restaurant hoppers, the sudden set of controls and safety measures brought in a paranoia that made them resist even take-away orders from restaurants. Aditya Govind who is a freelance web designer says, “I used to be eating out daily. But now with the COVID-19 scene, I am afraid to check out outside food, as I do not know who is cooking the food and how hygienic the kitchen hands are. I have a friend who is a good cook and is currently laid off. She cooks for a group of us four friends – good nutritious food, and we know she is obsessed with cleanliness. She gets her pocket money for her service and we are super happy with her food.”
Manal Al Hassani works from home these days for an airline, but finds time on weekends to prepare her special cake orders. “I am known among my family and friends for the variety of cake I make. Since I am working from home, I take only the weekend orders, as I cannot say no to my close friends and family members,” says Manal who has two daughters aged four and two.