Muscat: Mussels, popularly known as ‘kallumakkaya’ in Kerala, are the latest culinary trend among people hailing from the state who are now residing in Oman. On all holidays, hundreds of Malayalis rush to various seaside regions of Oman where the mussels grow on rocks to collect them for cooking. The main advantage is that the much-sought-after item is available free of cost in Oman, while it needs to be purchased from fish sellers in Kerala. Most of the mussel hunters from Keralites are seen at Ashkhara, even though the creature grows in other coastal areas also. Vlogs and reels of the mussel harvest are also viral on the social media, attracting more Malayalis to the area.
Ashkhara is 320 kms from Oman’s capital Muscat and the travel time is around four hours. Al Sakhalah, another area where mussels grow in abundance, is 45 km ahead. Mussels could be collected only when there is a low tide. People pluck mussels from the rocks with some sharp implements or by hand after wearing gloves. While most people take the harvested mussels to their own houses, some sell the seafood to others and restaurants. Wide availability of mussels has made dishes such as kallumakkaya fry, masala, thoran, biriyani and pickles common items in homes and hotels in Oman.