Oman Air’s mouth-watering First Class and Business Class inflight dining has been praised to the skies by readers of US-based luxury food magazine Saveur.
The national carrier of the Sultanate of Oman has scooped the Readers’ Choice Award in the magazine’s annual Culinary Travel Awards, beating many of the biggest names in global air travel.
Announcing the award, Saveur magazine said: ‘The traditional Arabic greeting of dates and coffee is just the beginning of a dining service that focuses on the essential details that make a difference at 40,000 feet. It certainly set the right mood for our readers, who selected Oman Air’s first and business class dining as their favourite in 2014.’
Saveur’s readers were particularly impressed with Oman Air’s long haul dining, with the daily Heathrow to Muscat route being singled out for praise. The magazine’s description of First Class dining on this route includes a starter of caviar and champagne, followed by canapés, appetizers such as a winter pumpkin and apple soup, and entrées such as poached fillet of beef, Loch Fyne salmon, pan-fried sea bass and saffron risotto with grilled asparagus.
Saveur also highlights ‘A wonderful Arabic meze with traditional kibbeh, tabbouleh, spinach fatayer, olives, and labneh with fresh mint, followed by…king prawn kebab, steamed chickpea rice with pine nuts, and seasoned okra.’
Saveur magazine has a circulation of 325 000 and draws nearly two million unique visitors to its website every month. It offers readers information about food in all its contexts, emphasising heritage and tradition, home cooking and real food, and evoking flavours from around the world. Coverage of Oman Air’s success in the Readers’ Choice category of the Culinary Travel Awards can be found at
Chennai, formerly known as Madras, is the capital of Tamil Nadu. It is perched neatly along the Coromandel Coast, on India’s south-eastern coastline, and is considered the gateway to Southern India. The city has a thriving art and culture scene. Along with this, it is also a paradise for food lovers. South Indian food is something truly special, and in Chennai, travelers soon learn all about it! Here’s to a true Chennai feast…
Chennai culture is distinctly different from that of any other city in India. Their coffee is unique too. It would be a disgrace to begin any holiday in Chennai without a cup of famous Tamil Nadu filter coffee – which is made with dark roasted coffee beans; brewed to be strong; and often enhanced with chicory.
The fact that Chennai is the biggest commercial centre in South India takes nothing away from the fact that it is also a major cultural centre – and a large part of this is represented by Chennai’s food culture. (By the way, while sipping that coffee, you can also comprehend the fact that Chennai is proudly celebrating its 375th anniversary this year).
The coffee is a necessary introduction to any day, but this not the only traditional Tamil Nadu and Chennai offering that you’ll need to get through when you’re here.
Chennai cuisine is made up of a variety of South Indian cuisines – including vegetarian and non-vegetarian cuisines. It’s been said that one of the defining points of South Indian food is that it successfully combines the entire spectrum of taste senses – sweet, bitter, sour, salty, and others. Serving dishes on fresh banana leaves – as is traditionally done in many regions in South India – is believed to remove some toxins from the food. It just looks good too, and it is one of the many reasons why food experiences in Chennai are so memorable.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes very often incorporate rice. For breakfast, idli (steamed rice cakes) or dosa are served, along with coconut chutney or tomato chutney. Both these are made from a fine paste of rice and lentils. Upma, idiyappam or vada are also served.
In lunch, there is a variety of food served with sambar, rasam, kootu, buttermilk, chutney and curry. Non-vegetarian meals include curries or dishes prepared with chicken, mutton or fish. Pickle, salads and papad or appalam are also essential to complete the meal.
In the evening, traditional Chennai dishes have chilly or onion pakoda, vada, murukku – and this is often accompanied with filter coffee. Chettinad Pepper Chicken is a classic non vegetarian option.
Famous sweet dishes of Chennai are payasam rice pudding, kesari (a sweet made from semolina), and sweet pongal, which is made from rice boiled in milk, combined with jaggery.
Chennai serves up a never-to-be-forgotten selection of dishes. For travelling foodies, the place is paradise. It has also been said that the people of Tamil Nadu consider providing food to others a service to humanity and you can therefore always expect the food and service in Chennai to be first rate.
Chennai was originally a fishing village. The close relationship that the region’s people have had with the sea is still evident today: Chennai loves its beaches!
Besant Nagar has a great vibe, and the Marina Beach, with its long promenade, is a popular spot to walk along. Edward Elliot’s beach is spread along the coast down south from Marina. It is well known as a hangout spot for Chennai’s youth during in the evenings. The peaceful Breezy Beach is located in the neighborhood of Valmiki Nagar in Chennai. Evenings are very pleasant and lots of tourists find time to come here.
The allure of Chennai’s cultural offerings comes from the old being combined with the new: Though a modern city, it continues to be traditional and conventional in certain ways. Tamil Nadu cuisine is just one aspect of the Chennai experience. For the traveller exploring the city on a day-to-day basis, there’s no shortage of things to see and do:
- Watch Bharatnatyam dances: Watch a dance performance at the Krishna Gana Sabha.
- Walk the Dakshina Chitra: Check out the outdoor Dakshina Chitra, which is a home of the living traditions of folk performing arts, crafts and architecture of South India.
- See the Kapaleeshwarar Temple: This is believed to be one of the oldest holy places of the city. The most notable feature is its 37 meter high gopuram.
- Explore Pondy Bazaar: Leave the malls alone for a day, and visit Pondy Bazaar for street-style shopping, Chennai-style.
- Visit Guindy National Park: This is one of the city’s green areas – and home to a large population of deer.
- Enjoy Cafe culture: Chennai has some wonderful cafés to sample Chennai’s famous filter coffee.
- See Valluvar Kottam: This is a chariot temple built in the heart of Chennai in 1976 in honour of the Tamil poet and saint Thiruvalluvar, whose works included, among other things, writings on ethics and life.
Also, every December, Chennai holds a five week-long Music Season, which has been described as one of the world’s largest cultural events. The event encompasses performances of traditional Carnatic music by hundreds of artists in and around the city.
Originally, cotton was cultivated around the Nizwa area in the Sultanate of Oman. It was then used to produce a range of clothing items. These days, cotton production has declined, due to increasing production costs compared to modern industrial textiles. The availability of modern materials has also meant that the cotton making industry has reduced in size. However, a smaller range of cotton clothing and cotton products are still lovingly being made in certain parts of the Sultanate.
Fishing Trap Design
Throughout history, the people of Oman have been experts in obtaining fish and seafood from the sea – and this has been illustrated by the unique selection of fishing tools and techniques that have been designed and developed through the years. Traditional dome-shaped fishing traps, which were originally made from palm fronds, are a wonderful example of this. After a fish enters through the trap’s one-way, funnel-like opening, they cannot return, and are captured later by a fisherman. The traditional palm-frond traps were expertly crafted and there was an innate beauty in their functional design. More modern versions of the traps are created with steel wire.
While handmade, traditional-style clay pots and pottery items are still popular in the Sultanate of Oman today, there are also examples of ceramic and pottery products being produced in a more modern style. These modern styles make use of contemporary manufacturing and finishing techniques which enable the craftsmen to produce some exquisitely beautiful and detailed designs – that have both ornamental, as well as functional qualities.
Latitude: 22° 50’ 12’’ N Longitude: 59° 14’ 28’’ E
Getting to Wadi Shab is almost as fantastic as the gorge itself. Driving south along the Muscat– Sur highway, you’re offered spectacular views of the Eastern Hajar Mountains on your right, and beautiful vistas of the Sea of Oman on your left.
It is best to avoid Wadi Shab during heavy rains, due to the possibility of flash flooding.
Wadi Shab is home to a fascinating array of ‘small’ wildlife: Birds, crabs, lizards, butterflies, dragonflies, fish, and much more.
If you plan to explore the full length of the wadi, make sure you bring dry bags and a change of clothes, as you will be getting wet!
Good walking/hiking shoes (instead of sandals or flip flops) are advisable.
A trip to Wadi Shab isn’t complete without a prepacked picnic lunch and snacks – and plenty of drinking water.
A couple of kilometres south of Wadi Shab lies the almost identical Wadi Tiwi, which is another spectacularly deep and narrow gorge carved out of the mountains, and well worth exploring.
One of the main attractions at Wadi Shab is a secluded cave at the end of the gorge, which is reached after about a 45 minute hike and a series of swims through sections of deep rock pools. There is a waterfall in the cave’s main chamber.
From the entrance of the wadi, footpaths runs along the small rock ledges and stretches of sandy beach – and then past rock pools and huge boulders.
Swimming and cliff jumping is possible – and very popular – at many places along the wadi. The water is a beautiful emerald-green colour and often very clear.
To get into the gorge, you’ll have to cross a small waterway by boat and then make your way on foot through the gigantic rock-walled entrance into the gorge. There are always locals with boats happy to take you across for around OMR 0.500 (sometimes) less.
Access to Wadi Shab begins right below the Wadi Shab bridge on the Muscat – Sur coastal highway. There is a small parking lot, but you can also park your car on the side of the road under the bridge.
Besides being one of the most accessible wadi valleys in Oman, Wadi Shab, which is 140 kilometres southeast of Muscat, is also one of the most spectacular.