Oman, was our short break destination this easter, a country not on a favourite on the list for many
We had a well planned itinerary covering some best parts of the country geographically – beach, mountains, valleys and desert, but still not knowing what to expect! Our driver was informed of my husband’s photographic needs throughout the trip, and was also told that we did not want booked lunches and dinners, mainly so we could explore the local canteens and cafes. Our driver was happy with both our requests.
Our first stop through the Muscat highway soon after being picked up from the airport was to have a good cup of tea – didn’t turn out the cuppa we are accustomed to! Our driver stopped in front of an empty looking kiosk and asked us ‘’ you like karak tea’’ don’t you??, puzzled initially, and assured soon after as he shouted to the local café owner, ‘’ two karak chai’’!
So, what is this ‘’Karak chai’’ – very interesting as the word ‘karak’ is derived from ‘kadak’ which is a hindi word, meaning ‘strong’ – With generations of Indian subcontinent migrants living in the Middle-east , the Kadak chai is now diluted into Omani household as ‘’Karak’’
Loose tea leaves brewed with cardamom, ginger, cinnamon individually or all as a mix and a good amount of condensed sweet milk makes this popular drink in Oman an everyman’s drink in all weathers. This was our entry into Omani hospitality!
Accompanying the karak chai, was Omani bread, which didn’t look much of a bread but rather a pancake – Fermented flour batter poured and converted into a pancake came to us filled with cream cheese. Was told by the driver that this was an ideal Omani breakfast and any time of the day snack – right he was as it satisfied us as we headed to our first destination of the day – ‘Wadi’ –
Cutting through heavily folded rock, with pretty streams and swaying palms nestled in their beds, the wadis of Oman are a major attraction, visited by toursits and locals alike. It is a unique environmental system characterised by wealth of natural attractions. Within this fertile environment, people have lived in the wadis (valleys) of Oman for thousands of years.
We started our walk through the valley – wading through clear, very warm and shallow streams, waters slowly turning deep. With full sun upon us, we were soaking into the beautiful nature. So were the local Omani families who were seen having their lunches and enjoying their day off. We passed one such family, we said hello, they acknowledged very enthusiastically, and in a few minutes, there we were, sitting and chatting with them! The lady spoke good English, and offered us Omani coffee, dates, water melon and their four children were all excited – we were even offered to stay for their lunch , fish which was being barbecued – this was so heartening, warm, friendly and open, just like the country , and also made me think, would we offer our lunches, teas to tourists at Christchurch meadows??!!