Ramadan 2022: chef Nader Al Aisari and the Omani way of observing iftar

Al Aisari talks future plans and how he has made traditional Omani cooking his own

Chef Nader Al Aisari (centre) was one of many regional chefs to cook at Expo 2020 Dubai. Seen here with Qatar's Mohammad Najem. Victor Besa / The National
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Iftar and suhoor meals are an integral part of Ramadan, providing nourishment throughout the day from a variety of dishes.

Each country in the Middle East has a particular delicacy. With a rich history that has influenced its culinary culture, Oman is home to spices and flavours derived from centuries of sea trade, making it unique when compared with other Middle Eastern countries. Its staple cuisine includes chicken kabouli, a rice dish, as well as the famous Omani halwa dessert.

Nader Al Aisari is one of Oman's highly acclaimed chefs and he is the mind behind Tanzanite catering service in Muscat. He will also soon be bringing his culinary skills to Al Qana in Abu Dhabi. “I will be opening an elevated Omani cuisine restaurant in Q3 of 2022,” he says.

The chef, who loves discovering new dishes, prefers to use rice, cumin, meat, seafood, coffee and cold water for dishes made during Ramadan.

It is thanks to his love for Omani ingredients and warm personality that Al Aisari has become an ambassador for the country's cuisine.

Speaking of the beginning of his culinary journey, Al Aisari says: “I would just go to the kitchen and do it myself. I always believed in myself that I could do it — I used to say in my mind I got this I can do it. Because I love what I do.

“I would monitor the dish and try to modify it my way,” he says, reflecting on his mother's cooking. He jokes that he would then serve his version of the dish to his family while singing My Way by Frank Sinatra.

One meal he enjoys during Ramadan is "mseto or mash consisting of moong dal, white rice, and tuna coconut curry. Or harees”, the traditional Middle Eastern dish that he says keeps your stomach full throughout the day.

“The food and the kitchen are a world of their own. Only those who are in it will understand,” he says.

“The kitchen has made me more focused on what I do because it's a responsibility of health and safety, reputation to the business and, most of all, my customers mean everything to me when I'm in the kitchen.”

Updated: April 24, 2022, 12:34 PM