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Bahari by Dina Macki

Posted by Nigella on the 15th February 2024
Image of Dina Macki's Honeycomb Bread
Photo by Patricia Niven

Well, I didn’t know that what my library sorely needed was a book on the food of Oman but, having studied and savoured Bahari, I am now the wiser and realise that my cookbook collection would be inadequate without it. Now, it’s true that I always want to learn about culinary cultures as yet unknown to me, so I was naturally interested in Dina Macki’s debut cookbook from the off, but with every page I loved it more. Macki has such an engaging voice and natural charm, she makes the ideal travelling companion as she leads us through Muscat, the interior of Oman, its coasts, Zanzibar and — yes — Portsmouth (where she grew up and still lives) and these, indeed, constitute the five chapters that make up Bahari.

And, of course, she makes sure we’re well-fed along the way — and I do so love a cookbook that both teaches me and makes me hungry! Her recipes are just sumptuous: Omani Date Paratha (Mardhouf); Bedouin Bread (Khoubz Bedou); Chicken, Tomato and Dried Lime One-Pot Rice (Machboos); Sesame Coconut Flatbread (Mkate wa Ufuta); Zanzibari Turmeric, Lemon, Potato and Chickpea Broth (Mbatata za Urojo); Mama’s Coconut Dhal; Bibi’s Famous Biryani; Pakora Scotch Egg; Pomegranate and Honey Beef Short Ribs; Sticky Tamarind Fried Chicken Wings; and Za’atar and Garlic Focaccia (the intro to which ends “Just please don’t tell an Italian that I butchered their focaccia!”. If this smallish selection doesn’t make you want to rush into the kitchen to cook, I don’t know what will! And I haven’t even given you a taster of Omani life on the sweet side yet. So while I’ve got you here, let me just say to you: Mishmish Ice Cream (feat. apricot and dried lime); Coconut Rice Pancakes; Rhubarb and Geranium Sorbet (Pompia); and Pistachio and Date Loaf Cake with Whipped Labne. I mean… And I must give a quick mention of the Limon Nana — a fantastically refreshing mint lemonade.

As you can imagine, it was deliciously difficult choosing the one recipe to share with you today, but in the end, I have plumped for the Honeycomb Bread — Khaliat Nahal — which is traditionally eaten on the 14th day of Ramadan, so put a note in for 24-25 March now!

Bahari: Recipes from an Omani Kitchen and Beyond by Dina Macki (DK).
Photos by Patricia Niven.

Try this recipe from the book

Image of Dina Macki's Honeycomb Bread
Photo by Patricia Niven
Khaliat Nahal - Honeycomb Bread
By Dina Macki
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Bara Brith