Top 20 Most Popular Foods in Qatar & Doha
Welcome to Qatar, a land of incomparable generosity and hospitality! What makes Qatar so special is its seamless ability to balance the preservation and respect of its history and culture with modernity and innovation.
The pride of Qatar’s people can be seen in their traditions, and one of the most treasured traditions is their food! Food binds these people together, and the variety and creativity that goes into preparing it make up the heart and soul of this country.
All social events, family gatherings, and even business meetings involve extravagant and delicious food.
Let us walk you through the 20 most popular foods in Qatar! But before that, and just as a side note, if you’re planning a trip to Qatar soon, pack a few XL jeans, because you will definitely be putting on a few extra pounds!
Besides being extraordinarily delicious, Majboos is first and foremost known as the national dish of Qatar. You simply cannot visit Qatar without trying this famous dish.
It is cooked slowly and steadily to ensure it is as rich as can be. The people of Qatar are very patient when it comes to preparing food because the result is always worth it!
The actual ingredients are simple: rice with either chicken or lamb. But it is the magical combination of spices that accounts for the unique taste and will take you just about as close as you can get to heaven!
Now here’s a special traditional plate that is eaten at any time and in any place! It is basically chicken, milk, butter, and a popular ingredient here in Qatar called hail, also known as cardamom. Think of it as a combination of these ingredients, mushed all together into a texture similar to that of mashed potatoes.
This dish is prepared by countless restaurants, all with the same ingredients but somehow with differing tastes, depending on the style of cooking!
3. Umm Ali
Let’s talk about something sweet for a change! Next up is the famous Umm Ali. It is originally an Egyptian dish, but the way it creates a flavorful melody on your tongue dance makes it a highly popular dish here.
It is a bread-based dessert with milk and cinnamon, the make-or-break ingredient that enhances the taste. Other ingredients depend on preference, for example, sugar and nuts. It is a definite must-have if you’ve still got some room for dessert!
Next up, another sweet dish! Luqaimat is a Qatari dessert that never fails to satisfy a sweet tooth. These beauties are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.
Think of them as doughnut balls, except they’re deep fried, dipped in sweet syrup, flavored with saffron (a special spice taken from the dried parts of the saffron crocus flower) and hail, which, as we learned above, is Arabic for good old cardamom, and are often sprinkled with sesame seeds to add even more richness to the flavor.
Now this dish is one we are sure you must have heard of, but here in Qatar, Kunafa is a BIG deal! The people of Qatar rarely have any event or gathering without serving Kunafa. It is a multi-purpose dish that is enjoyed on various occasions: weddings, funerals, bridal showers, during Ramadan, for breakfast, picnics, and more!
Just in case you haven’t tried it, it is very sweet and comes in a soft version, known as Kunafa Naa’ma, and in a harder version, known as Kunafa Kheshna. Kheshna is crunchier than Naa’ma, but both are absolute heaven!
Now shawarma is a common dish in the Middle East and has gotten popular worldwide, but here in Qatar, it is made with a little extra effort and love.
The people of Qatar took the idea of shawarma and applied it to a more creative variety of ingredients. Here, the options go far beyond simple chicken or beef. They extend to Shawarma fish and Shawarma shrimp.
And the beauty of it is that you can find so many different types and styles of Shawarma, such as Turkish, Lebanese, and even Indian-styled Shawarma. The rush of flavors always keeps you coming back for more!
The ingredients of this one will confuse you, but hear us out. It is a combination of eggs, sugar, saffron, and vermicelli rice noodles.
Now, we know what you’re asking yourself: how? You will not believe how delicious this dish is! Trust us! Balaleet is eaten mostly during Eid al Fitr, the Eid that comes directly after the holy month of Ramadan.
You may have heard of Karak, Qatar’s most popular drink. It is so popular, that you can find several Karak shops open 24 hours.
What is it, you may ask? It is a type of Qatari tea that contains milk, cardamom, and sugar. It is boiled three times to maximize the taste of the flavors.
Now, don’t underestimate the process; boiling the ingredients all together three times is a must, and any shortcuts will immediately affect the final taste.
As we said, the people of Qatar are patient with the preparation of their food, because the result is always worth it!
9. Qahwa with Hail
The second most popular drink is Qahwa with hail, also known as coffee with cardamom. I know what you’re thinking, these Qatari people really love their cardamom!
Yes, they really do! This coffee may not be an instant favorite as it is a bit of an acquired taste. It is made with green coffee beans and cardamom.
And of course, the pouring technique is unique; it is poured from a particular type of pot called a dallah, and the small cups it is served in usually have no handle.
This dish is made with whatever you have at home. It generally includes spicy meat along with vegetables and lots of tomatoes all combined into a soup-like dish, but you can play around with the ingredients as you please.
It is eaten with or without rice and some eat it with bread. You’ll love it!
11. Kousa Mahshi and Waraq Enab
Now this… a weakness of Arabs in general, let alone Qatar! Every Arab you meet will admit to having a soft spot for Kousa Mahshi and Waraq Enab.
Kousa means zucchini and mahshi means stuffed, which would translate into what it quite literally is; stuffed zucchini. Stuffed with what? With the most mouthwatering combination of magical spices, rice, and minced meat, stuffed into the Hollowed out zucchini.
Waraq Enab is grape leaves stuffed with minced meat, rice, and yummy spices. Some people like to add minced tomatoes too.
This dish can be made with different sauces, lemon, yogurt, or tomato. It is all a matter of preference. The bottom line, the combination of Kousa Mahshi and Waraq Enab is heaven on Earth!
Next up, Margoog! This dish is a healthy and hearty combination from start to finish. Think of it as a mixture of carrots, potatoes, meat, eggplant, tomatoes, and zucchini.
But the people of Qatar always like to go the extra mile and add something extra to their dishes. And here they add pieces of bread dough, which boil in the mixture absorbing all the delicious flavor.
Now this dish is basically wheat with a combination of either chicken or meat that is stirred and beaten into a puree. Butter, cinnamon, sugar, and of course good old cardamom are added to enhance the rich flavor!
This dish is most popular during the holy month of Ramadan and during celebrations in general. A unique name with odd ingredients, we know, but the taste will make you come back for seconds and thirds!
This dish is easily considered among the most popular Qatari dishes. Some refer to this dish as pot stew, except its ingredients are much more awesome than a plain old pot stew!
It consists of a rich red sauce, chicken or lamb, depending on preference, vegetables, bread, and of course, a mix of heavenly spices that gives the dish life.
Another delicious dessert coming right up! This dish will surprise you and let me tell you why. Remember the cardamom and saffron that we talked about a few dishes ago? Well, this dish combines the two, adds to it some baking powder, eggs, flour, rice powder, and rosewater, mixes them all together and gives us…. cake!
That’s right, Qhanfaroosh is a fried cardamom and saffron cake. It originated in Qatar, but then the cardamom and saffron probably made that obvious.
Remember that mouth-watering, triangular-shaped piece of dough you’ve seen on almost every Arab table during Ramadan? Yeah, that’s Samboosa! It is a delicious fried dough filled with anything of your choice, but is usually either cheese, potatoes, vegetables, minced meat, spinach, or chicken.
It is also made in several different shapes and sizes, like half a moon, or cone-like, as well as the classic triangle. Some people even bake them instead of frying them. There are so many different ways that different people enjoy this dish, and it all boils down to preferences.
But we promise you, the unforgettable taste is universal! This dish is essential during the holy month of Ramadan, but it is eaten at other times too.
17. Red Tea with Mint
Red tea with mint is one of the most popular drinks. The people of Qatar like their tea to be as sweet as can be!
The mint leaves are mixed well with the tea and sugar and are sometimes left to sit for a bit to allow them to soak in and intensify the taste. Wherever you look here in Qatar, whether it’s people crossing the street or taking a walk on Corniche, you will always find someone enjoying tea with mint.
This dish is a type of bread that originates from India. It is known to be a thin flatbread made with water, flour, and salt. It is usually eaten plain, but many people nowadays like to add Nutella, cheese, and even honey. People are particular about how they eat it too, some eating it open, others rolling it up.
It is more of a snack food than a main and is almost always eaten with a cup of Karak on the side. This dish is so incredibly popular that you will find tea shops on almost every corner that prepare chapati and Karak.
19. Kabab Nakhi
Kebab is popular throughout the Middle East, but this one is most definitely Qatari. Quick and easy to prepare, it is usually enjoyed as an appetizer. It is basically a combination of vegetables mixed with magical spices, and fried into a delightful and tempting crunchy snack.
20. Spring Potato
And last but not least, Qatar’s famous Spring Potato! The snack is as simple as can be: plain old potatoes fried with a splash of salt!
The ingredients are simple, but what makes them so popular and famous here is the spiral, swirly, and springy way they are prepared. It’s like eating a never-ending loop of fried potatoes from a wooden stick. The taste is so amazing that it has become the most highly-demanded snack in the country!
And that’s it for our top 20 foods in Qatar! We hope you enjoyed our mini-tour and we hope it has encouraged you to come and see us soon!