Doha is an international hub and consists of a host of international cuisines for enjoyable dining experiences. Nevertheless, it is worth pursuing the traditional local restaurants surrounding the city to try out sumptuous dishes, including stews and tasty desserts known to the region. Traditional Qatari food is influenced by the nomadic lifestyle of the Bedouins, Indian, and North African cultures. Therefore, it is no wonder why the dishes here are chock full of delicious spices and famed for slow cooking techniques. Use this guide to find a list of real Qatari treats that locals and visitors can delight in.
Majoobs at Al Manchab
As a national dish of Qatar, Majoobs at Al Manchab is a must-try during a visit to Doha. It usually consists of either chicken or lamb, which is slow-cooked to give it a bursting touch of fragrant flavors. It’s served on a fluffy bed of rice, along with a salad and homemade tomato sauce. Al Manchab is a well-known restaurant located in Hamza mall and is known for its decadent offering of Majoobs at Al Manchab. The well-seasoned dish topped with rosemary is a staple here.
Made up of vermicelli and a fried omelet, Balaleet is not a traditional dish that many outside of Qatar are familiar with, but it is extremely delicious no less. It is a famous dish in the region topped with sugar, rose water, and saffron to make it uniquely savory and sweet, a powerful combination. It is the breakfast chosen by many Qataris for holidays and special occasions such as EID. Al Jasra Traditional Restaurant, located in the back streets of Souq Waqif, offers this freshly cooked dish and is run by four Qatari women who make you feel at home in the ambient quarters.
Saloona is a popular hearty Arabic stew commonly served for family dinners in Doha. It usually consists of lamb, beef, or fish, and whichever vegetables are in season at the time, topped with garlic and ginger. Most like to eat it with a big helping of bread to scoop up the thick broth. Walima restaurant is famous for its contemporary spin on the dish. The glamorous restaurant is decked out with Middle Eastern touches like colored lambs and glasses.
Umm Ali is a traditional dessert popular throughout the Middle East, but Qatar has made its own spin on the sweet dish. It is made up of raisins, sweetened milk, and chopped nuts, reminiscent of bread pudding but more decadent. It is baked until it has a golden, crispy brown top and then flanked with cinnamon. The dish can be located at Karaki, known for sweet karak tea, its namesake, but it also carries a delicious creamy umm ali.
Harees, also known as harissa, is a traditional Middle Eastern dish consisting of boiled or coarsely ground wheat mixed with meat such as lamb, chicken, or beef. It is similar in consistency to porridge, and it is packed with various nutrients. Harees is a dish typically used to break the fast during Ramadan for Iftar dinners with friends and family. Mugalat Harees Al-Waldah restaurant located on Salwa Road famously offers a delicious harees option.
As a traditional dessert in Qatar, luqaimat are sweet dumplings similar to donuts, flavored with saffron and cardamom. It is then deep-fried and loaded with sugar syrup. It’s a great snack for those to grab on the go and often available at cafes and street stalls such as those in the souk. Chai Halib offers an array of flavors of luqaimat at its upscale café located inside the Mall of Qatar.
Warak enab are stuffed grape leaves that are commonly consumed in Middle Eastern cuisines. The Qatari version usually contains lamb, rice, or minced beef. It is then seasoned with coriander, garlic, and pepper then topped with slices of fresh lemon for a zingy taste. Inside of La Cigale Hotel's courtyard is Shisa Garden, which is decorated with small waterfalls and greenery to make you feel as though you’ve stepped outside of the city into a small oasis. It offers great scenery to enjoy the snack.
Kousa mahshi are Middle Eastern courgettes or zucchini, stuffed with vegetables and minced lamb, then flavored with mint and parsley. The dish is typically dipped in yogurt or tomato sauce and is a great appetizer for big traditional Qatari meals. A chickpea version is also commonly found at restaurants in Doha as an option for vegetarians. Al Shami Home Restaurant offers a distinctive dining experience to enjoy kousa mahsi, as it is decorated like a traditional Berber tent.
Madrouba is an aromatic porridge that is eaten with many meals in Qatar. It is made with butter, milk, cardamom, and most commonly chicken, but sometimes the meat is replaced with beans. It is then slow-cooked for hours until it becomes mushy in consistency. Fresh toppings can include fried onions, ghee, or cardamom. E’asair Café, located in Souk Waqif, is a fantastic place to eat the traditional dish near the waterfront.
Another dish that is most famously eaten during Ramadan is Thareed. It has been coined the Arab lasagna, as it is made up of carrots, onions, potatoes, beans, and cooked with lamb or chicken. It also includes tomato sauce and flavorful spices. Most enjoy to soak it up with bread, which is placed at the bottom of the dish where the stew simmers and makes the bread soft and chewy to eat at the end. The dish is available as an Iftar menu item at Garden Village Restaurant.