15 Dishes You Must Not Miss When In Qatar

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If you are visiting Qatar for a holiday getaway, tasting the local Qatari foods deserve a separate place on your itinerary. One of the most treasured traditions of Qatari people is their food! Food binds these people together, and the variety and creativity that goes into preparing it makes up the heart and soul of this country. Since food is such an important part of Qatari culture, the culinary scene has evolved over the years and today it is a hub to regional flavors as well as international gastronomy and budget-friendly bites. Here’s a list of 15 tastiest must-try traditional dishes and best places to try them!

food in qatar

15 Top Traditional Dishes of Qatar

Majboos

Majboos is a popular dish in Qatar and is considered one of the national dishes of the country. Typically made with chicken or lamb, and basmati rice, and is slow-cooked to give it a depth of flavor alongside the creamy marinated mix  of tomatoes, onions and yogurt and the spice mix of saffron, cumin and cinnamon make machboos taste out of the world. It is generally served with a side of salad and yogurt or a tomato-based sauce, and it is also considered a comfort food in Qatar. Machboos is usually cooked in a special pot called “degs” (also spelled as “dijaj”) made of clay or metal.

Caution: The fragrance of Majboos can become your favorite scent! 

Where to taste it? 
  • Afghan Brothers
  • Belkhams
  • Al Manchab
  • Majboos Al Walaida

Majboos

Harees

Harees is a traditional Middle Eastern porridge made from wheat. It is often eaten during Ramadan, Eid, and other festive occasions. Harees is made by soaking, grinding, and cooking the wheat with water and mixed with meat until it becomes thick with creamy consistency. It is usually served with a dollop of ghee or clarified butter on top and can also be garnished with ground cinnamon and/or sugar. Harees is a staple food in Qatar and is typically enjoyed as a breakfast or main meal.

Where to taste it? 
  • Afghan Brothers
  • SMAT Restaurant
  • Jiwan
  • Souq Waqif

Hareira

A classic Moroccan comfort soup made with tomatoes, lentils, chickpeas, fresh herbs, dried spices, and meat, making it a filling and satisfying dish. Although served year-round, it is particularly popular for breaking the fast during Ramadan. It can be offered as an appetizer or main, depending on the serving size, and is usually served with lemon slices.

Where to taste it? 
  • Argan Moroccan Cuisine
  • Twajin Walyly

Saloona

Saloona is a traditional dish from Qatar. It is a stew made with meat, usually lamb or chicken, and a variety of vegetables such as tomatoes, onions, carrots and potatoes. The ingredients are cooked together in a pot with spices and seasonings, and the dish is usually eaten by itself or served with rice. Saloona is a popular dish in Qatar and is often served during celebrations or special days.

Where to taste it? 
  • Souq Waqif
  • Walima, Mondrian
  • Saasn
  • Jiwan, National Museum of Qatar

Madhruba

Madhruba

A Ramadan favorite, also known as ‘beaten porridge’, which is a combination of rice, milk, butter and cardamom that is cooked together until it becomes mushy. Some variations of the dish include chicken and other types of meat which are stewed along with chickpeas or other types of beans.

Where to taste it? 
  • Souq Al Wakra Hotel By Tivoli
  • Bayt Sharq
  • SMAT

Umm Ali

Umm Ali is a type of dessert most associated with Egypt, but Qatar does its own equally delicious version. The dessert has a consistency equivalent to bread pudding and is made of puff pastry sheets and milk, served with a topping of nuts as well as raisins. Cinnamon is then added and baked until the top is brown and crispy. It is likely one of Qatar’s sweetest sweets! 

Where to taste it? 
  • Karaki, Doha
  • Sheraton Grand Doha Resort & Convention Hotel

Umm Ali

Quzi

Quzi is an Iraqi and Qatari dish that is prepared with rice and a whole roasted lamb.  It is a whole roasted lamb or goat that is often served at special occasions such as weddings and Eid al-Adha. The lamb is occasionally stuffed with nuts, raisins, and various spices before it is roasted or cooked in underground ovens. The dish is seasoned with cinnamon, cardamom, and baharat—an aromatic blend of spices—and it is served on a bed of rice

Where to taste it? 
  • Yasmine Palace

Balaleet

Balaleet is a traditional dish in the Gulf (the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, etc) that incorporates sweet and salty elements. Balaleet is usually eaten for breakfast and is made up of vermicelli, cardamom, sugar, and even rose water or saffron. It is usually served with an omelet on top.

Where to taste it? 
  • Karak Mqanes
  • Gahwetna
  • Bayt Sharq
  • Saasna

Warak Enab

Stuffed grape leaves known as ‘Warak Enak’ are one of the most common and popular dishes across most of the Middle Eastern cuisines, but the ones from Qatar are particularly delicious. Warak Enak is typically made with rice and minced beef or lamb, and seasoned with coriander, pepper, and garlic. This dish tastes best with fresh lemon slices.

The dish is often served as a side dish or an appetizer, and is considered a staple of Qatari cuisine.

Where to taste it? 
  • Shisha Garden
  • Hotel La Cigale
  • Ohannes

Warak Enab

Kousa Mahshi

Another Middle Eastern food that is highly popular in Qatar is Kousa Mahshi. A courgette stuffed with minced lamb and vegetables and flavored with parsley and mint. Numerous Doha eateries also offer vegetarian options made with chickpeas. For a wholesome experience, dip them in yogurt or tomato paste.

Where to taste it? 
  • Al Shami Home
  • Khan Farouk

Best Street Food Dishes To Try

Shawarma 

The Middle East is pretty much synonymous with Shawarma and Qatar is no different. Shawarma is made from boneless chicken or beef strips that are stacked and grilled on a rotating skewer. Along with sauce, pickles, and fries, the meat’s crisp edges are sliced into pieces and wrapped in bread as it cooks. Depending on whether it is Lebanese, Syrian, Turkish, or the “Arabic” kind, the bread varies from thick circular buns to flat pita bread to paper thin saj or Arabic khubz. 

Shawarma is a popular traditional dish on most Middle Eastern menus and is most often disassembled on a platter or served as an appetizer in bite-sized chunks.

Where to taste it? 
  • Mashawi Al Arabi, Old Airport area
  • Jabal Lebnan, Al Nasr Street
  • Petra Restaurant
  • Marmara Istanbul Restaurant

Shawarma

Falafel

It is a popular street food across the Middle East. Falafel is a vegan and vegetarian dish given it is made from ground chickpeas or fava beans mixed with spices and herbs. The mixture is formed into small balls or patties and then deep-fried until crispy. Falafel is often served on pita bread, which is stuffed with fried balls or patties, along with various toppings such as tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, and tahini sauce.

Where to taste it? 
  • Falafel AlAkawi
  • Zater wa Zeit
  • Petra Restaurant
  • Khan Farouk
  • Ard Canaan, Katara

falafel

Sambosa

The Sambosa or sambusak, can be found in cuisines from China to Africa. The South Asian version of the sambosa is larger and has a thick crust with potato filling, but the Arabic version is smaller and has thin crusts filled with minced beef, spinach, or cheese. These little flavor packets are served as an appetizer or with evening Karak together with chutney.

Where to taste it? 
  • Delhi Bakery, Doha 
  • Bayt Sharq, Doha

sambosa

Ragag

Regag bread is one of the most popular types of bread in the Gulf. These thin delicate crepes are a favorite treat among Qataris locals. It is best eaten hot with Karak tea, or with kebabs. Another way to relish it is by slathering it with toppings like cheese, honey, eggs, and mhyawa (a thick fish paste), which can be spread on top while the bread cooks. Ragag has a crispy, wafer-like texture when folded or rolled into a cone shape.

Where to taste it? 
  • Souq Waqif, Doha 
  • Shay Al Shamoos, Doha

Luqaimat 

One of the most delicious and famous foods in Doha, and in the whole of Qatar, is Luqaimat. Enjoyed any time of day, this sweet treat resembles a doughnut in flavor and texture, but has the rounded shape of a dumpling. It’s a soft dough seasoned with cardamom, saffron, and sugar, and deep fried, gaining a crispy layer that contrasts its soft interior. 

It’s usually served dipped in honey or syrup, and while it’s popular as a dessert during Ramadan, it can also be had as a snack with Arabic coffee.  

Where to taste it? 
  • Souq Waqif
  • Karaki
  • Chai Halib

Best Signature Drink To Try

Karak

Qatari Karak is a traditional Arabian tea that is popular in Qatar and other nearby regions. It is made from black tea, cardamom, and sugar and is typically served with a savory snack called “chebab.” The tea is known for its strong and tinge of sweet flavor and is often consumed as a morning or evening beverage. It is traditionally served in small cups and is often accompanied by dates or other sweets. Karak is a staple in Qatari culture! 

Where to taste it? 
  • Chapati and Karak 
  • Karak Maqnes 
  • Tea Time 

Best Places to Find Authentic Qatari Food

There are a number of traditional restaurants that offer the best gourmet food to travelers. Here are the top places you need to know about:

Jiwan

The National Museum of Qatar’s (NMoQ) fourth level is home to Jiwan, an integral part of the museum’s narrative experience. To give you a flavor of Qatar’s natural beauty and rich traditions connected to seaside activities, the design of this restaurant blends harmoniously with the menu. The end effect is a serene, cozy setting where guests may experience Qatar’s true spirit. 

Jiwan, the Qatari phrase for the ideal pearl, is the inspiration behind the restaurant, which was founded by renowned chef Alain Ducasse. To highlight the distinct flavors of regional ingredients, this restaurant experiments with the classic Qatari meals.

Saasna

The word “Asaasna” – the origins – is where the meaning of the name “Saasna” comes from. The idea is to combine contemporary with traditional Qatari cuisine. Their origins are brought up to current with the present and the future. The restaurant’s development was centered entirely on modernized traditional Qatari cuisine. 

The experience of the cultural fusion of the senses can be perceived through food. Its roots are revealed in all their complexity. To complement the present-day era of amazing innovation, they have added the flavors of Qatari modernism, much like adding spices to a recipe.

Al Jasra

The restaurant is the ideal place to enjoy the most delectable traditional cuisines at reasonable prices. Tucked away in the famous Souq Waqif marketplace, it is one of the best dining places in Qatar to get the most genuine taste of traditional cuisine. 

Al Jasra’s menu places a strong emphasis on regional specialties from Qatar, but it also offers a selection of salads, pancakes, drinks, sweetmeats, and rogag for diners to enjoy. You can take advantage of indoor and outdoor seating areas as well as a takeout option.

Nassayem Qatar

A stop at Nassayem Qatar, the flagship Qatari eatery of The Diplomatic Club, should be on the agenda of everyone planning a trip to Doha. Regional specialties are presented in style befitting a five-star restaurant. Both lunch and dinner are offered here with beverages that are representative of the produce grown in Qatar, and traditional beverages are served alongside the meal.

Bayt Sharq

Bayt Sharq, housed inside the Al Khulaifi heritage building, evokes memories of a bygone period (but with more air-con). The lovely courtyard has a main dining area and private cabanas. It is surrounded by lush vegetation and outdoor seating that will be ideal in the winter. A vintage automobile and boats honoring Qatar’s nautical past are displayed throughout the area, and there is even a tiny museum with records from the family who once resided here. 

The Qatari restaurant is open every day. However, the best time to go is for breakfast. Although you can order à la carte, set menus provide you the opportunity to sample every dish. Choose between the maalem breakfast, which includes foods from the wider region, including falafel, labneh, and cheese, and the traditional Qatari option, which includes plates such as balaleet, lamb liver, nakhi, and bejella. If you are heading for lunch or dinner, choose from their mouth-watering traditional dishes such as madrooba, machbous, harees, and don’t forget to have it with a pot of Karak!

SMAT 

Another famous location that provides you with the most incredible gastronomic experience is SMAT Restaurant in Doha. The restaurant, located on the Corniche, proudly boasts of its elegant decor and traditional Qatari flavors. Offering the best dining experience in the nation, SMAT Restaurant Doha is a location that will lead you through food that is influenced by Qatar’s rich heritage and distinguished by local spices and ingredients. While admiring the scenic vista of the Doha Corniche (the city’s breathtaking waterfront promenade), select from a wide variety of regional Qatari and GCC delicacies at this restaurant. 

Qatar presents a rich and diverse culinary scene with a plethora of choices, from Michelin-starred restaurants and experimental cuisine to delicious street food, that covers all needs and tastes. Foodies shall have Qatar on their list and get ready for an unforgettable culinary experience!

Popular areas are home to a large number of eateries that provide the best culinary experiences as well as other amenities. So, if you are a foodie, are you planning a trip to Qatar? Rehlat can help you arrange round-trip travel to Qatar so you may take advantage of the nation’s amazing cuisine. 

 

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