Wondering what traditional Qatari food you should try during your trip? Read on to find out the most typical dishes that you’ll find, from snacks to main dishes and delicious desserts.
Qatar has a very rich culinary heritage, and while it shares traditional dishes with other nearby countries, it has adapted most of them to its unique lifestyle and flavors.
Infused in tons of spices, as the Qataris love to cook their meals, you’ll get to feast on a variety of very hearty dishes, exquisite and very unique desserts, and crispy snacks to go with your coffee.
I’ve already written about the traditional Emirati food that you need to try while in Dubai and the UAE, and the Qatari food is mostly similar… but with some differences.
Check out what’s the Qatari food that you can’t possibly miss when visiting Doha.
Majboos, also referred to as Machboos, is the national dish of Qatar. It’s made with spiced rice and a slow-cooked chicken, lamb, or any other kind of meat, including camel and fish. The marination of the meats allow them to gain a deep flavor, and it results in a delicious blend of spices and aromas.
Being the most famous food in Qatar, you’re likely to find it in every restaurant in the country. Most of them, though, have their own version of the dish, so you could try it several times and find distinctive flavors and differences in each of them!
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Challenging the taste buds, this traditional food of Qatar is sweet and savory at the same time. Its base is made of fried vermicelli, seasoned with cardamom, saffron and rose water, which gives it the sweetness it’s famous for. The dish is then topped with an egg omelet and often with pistachios as well.
While it’s usually served for breakfast, it’s also a very popular dessert, and it can be enjoyed either hot or cold.
Another renowned dessert in Qatar, this dish has its origins in Egypt, but has become widely enjoyed in many Middle East countries.
Similar to a bread pudding, Umm Ali is made with condensed milk, raisins, and chopped nuts, along with a variety of species to infuse flavor, and it’s baked until the top gets crispy.
It’s one of the most delicious Qatar sweets and a favorite among both locals and tourists, so it should definitely be on your list!
Thareed is a slow-cooked stew, heavily spiced and made up of meat and various vegetables. It’s enjoyed on a crispy flatbread called rigag, and it’s incredibly popular during the month of Ramadan as one of the favorite dishes to break the fast. It’s said to have been considered the best among all dishes by the prophet Muhammad, so that might add to its popularity.
Thareed can also be found as a vegetarian dish in most restaurants, so even if you don’t eat meat you can still give it a try. It’s one of the most traditional food in Qatar after all, so you don’t want to miss out!
Samboosa is a typical dish in India, in South Asia, and in the Middle East, but each country has their own variant of this particular meal.
Qatari samboosa is a triangular-shaped pastry filled with meat, veggies, or cheese and seasoned with various spices, that is deep-fried and served hot. They are very tasty and while you’re sure to find them in Indian restaurants especially, you can get them in most eateries in Doha.
Samboosa can be enjoyed as an appetizer or even as a snack to keep you going during the day.
Strictly a street food item, Pani Puri has its origins in India, but has become widely popular in Qatar. It’s circular shape is made of a very crisp and light flour dough, and its hollow interior is filled with a variety of delicious and spicy ingredients.
Stuffings range from seasoned chickpeas to mash potatoes, onions, chutneys, and the unmistakable tamarind water, which provides the distinctive flavor. While you’ll come across pani puri in most souks and food stalls in the country, it is also available in high-end restaurants and cafés.
If you’d like to join a food tour to discover the most traditional Qatari flavors with a local, these are the best options to truly immerse yourself in the Middle East’s cuisine traditions.
➤ With the Pearl-Qatar Food Tour & Boat Ride you’ll get to explore the magnificent island and stroll along its canals, all the while sampling delicious street food in Doha and learning all about Qatar’s culinary scene. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
➤ The Food And Local Market Tour takes you to Doha’s number one attraction, Souq Waqif, where you’ll have the chance to try some of the yummiest food of Qatar. You’ll also get to wander around its stores, meet the falcons, and learn about its history from your professional guide. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
For more inspiration, you can also check out this list of the best Doha tours to book for your trip.
One of the most delicious and famous food 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.
Khubz (or Khaboos)
This Arabic flat bread, usually served with hummus, chutney, or different kinds of dips, is a very tasty and hearty snack to eat any time of day.
Maida, a very refined and bleached wheat flour, is the main ingredient, and the khubz is also present in most savory meals, which are sometimes eaten on the flatbread.
Some bakeries also make it puff, so its hollow interior, or pocket, can be filled with different ingredients and foods. It’s best eaten warm, but it can be enjoyed cold or as a side with meals.
Harees is yet another traditional dish that makes the list of Qatar famous food. Made with cracked wheat and meat, it has the consistency of porridge and its packed with nutrients, reason why it’s often the preferred breakfast during Ramadan.
Besides being particularly popular during the holy month, it’s also served on very special occasions because of its lengthy preparation; first the wheat is cooked for several hours, and after the meat is added the mixture continues to be slow-cooked for some time. As most Qatar food, it contains plenty of spices and offers a taste quite unlike any other.
Weddings are the main event when Harees is widely enjoyed, but you can (and definitely should) try it during your trip – another very worthy occasion!
Kousa Mashi is, basically, stuffed zucchini. One of the most celebrated Qatar dishes, it is made with minced lamb, heavily seasoned with garlic and mint, and vegetables.
It is then put in the oven, resulting in a delicious combination of flavors that are enhanced by tomato sauce and enjoyed hot.
Its vegetarian alternative, made with chickpeas instead of lamb, is pretty common and you’re likely to find it in most restaurants.
Kunafa (or Knafeh)
The best food in Qatar is arguably the Kunafa, also known as Knafeh. Although it has its origins in Palestine, it has become a very popular dish in Qatari cuisine, and it’s no wonder why!
Combining a very sweet pastry with sour cheese, and being completely soaked in syrup before it’s served with pistachios on top, it’s a true delicacy that will delight all those with a sweet tooth (and convert all the others!)
This delicious dessert, which might as well be served for breakfast in Qatar, can be found pretty much anywhere in the country, especially in Doha, so there’s no excuse to skip it!
Madrouba resembles harees in its porridge-like consistency. It is made of slow-cooked rice, butter, milk and cardamom, along with chicken and mashed beans, all of which is simmered until reaching the desired consistency.
This savory dish is prepared slightly different in each restaurant, so you could try it several times and find new flavors and textures depending on the spices and garnishes they use.
If you’re looking for very traditional Doha food, you can’t go wrong with Warak Enab. This light snack is prepared with minced lamb or beef, rice, and spices like coriander, pepper, and garlic, and is then stuffed in tasty vine leaves.
It’s typically served as finger food or an in-between meals delicacy, and it’s a great appetizer to order before a more substantial meal. You can also find warak enab in most of Qatar’s street food stalls!
A very comforting dish, saloona is a spicy meat and vegetable broth that’s really popular with the locals, because it can literally be prepared with any ingredients available. The spices used to season it will vary depending on where you enjoy it, but garlic and ginger are a constant in saloona.
You can also find vegetarian options, although it’s usually made with lamb, beef, or fish, along with potatoes, carrots, and tomatoes, as well as other vegetables. While it is typically enjoyed on its own,rice can be added to make it a more substantial meal.
A very traditional dish in most Arab countries, shawarma is also a staple in Qatari cuisine. The heart of this dish is the meat, that’s slowly roasted on a vertical rotisserie, sometimes for a whole day, and is then thinly sliced. A large flatbread in the shape of a cone is filled with the meat, spices, and vegetables, and it’s truly delicious.
The meat can actually be anything from beef to lamb or chicken, and there may be added ingredients, like tahini or hummus, depending on where you eat it.
Best Restaurants in Doha, Qatar
You now know every dish that you should try during your trip…but where can you get the best shawarma in Qatar? And what is the ideal spot for a really good kunafa? Some of the best restaurants in Doha include (but are not limited to):
Walima’s decorations will truly remind you of where you are – or rather transport you to an Arabian tale, with magnificent colored lanterns, traditional ornaments and a wonderful ambiance. Its menu includes many of Qatar’s traditional dishes, including Majboos, Harees, and Madrouba, and it’s one of the top places where to enjoy these delicacies.
Address: Mondrian Doha
Opening Hours: Saturday to Wednesday from 5 PM to 12 AM, Thursday & Friday opens until 1 AM
Shay Al Shoomos
Situated in Souq Waqif, Shay Al Shoomos is a local café that serves some of the most delicious traditional cuisine, and is the perfect place to try the balaleet, one of their specialties.
Without the flourish of other restaurants, it more than makes up for it with its flavors, and it is said that various Hollywood starts, including Tilda Swinton, have enjoyed some Qatari cuisine in this very spot.
Address: Abdullah Bin Jassim Street, Souq Waqif
Opening Hours: Saturday to Thursday from 7.30 AM to 1 PM, and from 6.30 PM to 10 PM. Friday from 7.30 AM to 11 PM.
The most authentic restaurant in the city, Bayt Sharq serves pretty much all of the typical dishes of Qatar. It’s situated inside a restored traditional home and features an interesting museum that you should check out before or after your meal.
Address: Al Corniche, Doha
Opening Hours: Daily from 7 AM to 1 AM
Trying out all the traditional food from Qatar is in my opinion one of the best things to do in Qatar to immerse yourself in the culture of this country.
Food in Qatar FAQ
Majboos is Qatar’s national dish. It’s made with spiced rice and a slow-cooked chicken, lamb, or any other kind of meat, including camel and fish.
Some of the most popular dishes in Doha, Qatar include Warak Enab, Majboos, Umm Ali, and Balaleet.
Drinking is allowed at licensed bars, restaurants and hotels, but it’s illegal to be drunk or to drink in public.
Umm Ali and Balaleet are two of the most popular desserts in Qatar.
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