Lunch is the main meal of the day and usually eaten between 1:30 and 2:30pm after kids return from school and adults return from work. In almost every Dhofari household rice is served. The rice might be plain white and served with dates and fried or grilled fish; biryani with fish, meat or chicken placed on top; or one of the dishes seen as traditional including qabooli, kebsa, maqboos, and mandi. The main dish is served with one or more condiments called “chutney” and a chopped salad, often made with fresh vegetables such as onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, green peppers and (sometimes) lettuce; the salad is served without a dressing. Quartered limes and small plates of chili peppers are often set out; some families use bottled hot sauces such as Tabasco.
Although not all families eat with all house members at one time, it is usually to eat at home. As lunch is after work and before the nap/ relaxation time of late afternoon, lunch is generally eaten quickly without the social time that usually precedes and succeeds dinner. When the Dhofaris say “lunch” they mean “rice with meat, fish or chicken,” however sometimes lunch is eaten on the fly – at work or while driving.
A favorite for a fast lunch is to spread processed cheese on pita or white bread; open a bag of Chips Oman (spicy), crush them and sprinkle on the bread, splash on some hot sauce and bon appetit! A variation is spread processed cheese on a warm partata, add a fried egg and a bag of crushed Chips Oman, with hot sauce if you need more heat.
In case it’s not clear how important processed cheese is….
(first image from social media, unknown photographer; second and third photos by author)