The Qatari national cuisine is a classic Arabic cuisine of the entire Middle East, which is a mix of cuisines from countries in the region. Most of the dishes that you can and should try in Doha can also be found in the kitchens of Palestine, Pakistan, India, Iran, Israel, and Saudi Arabia.


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Qatari cuisine: features and ingredients

As many people know, Qatar is a fairly small country located in the Middle East, with neighbors such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Iran. The size of Qatar is only 100 by 200 km, and as of 1940, the entire population of the country was 25,000 people. My hometown in the province is twice as big.

Good to know:

It’s worth knowing that Qatari cuisine today is the real Arab cuisine. The downside is that there is no dish that can be truly called Qatari. Absolutely all Qatari cuisine dishes are borrowed from neighboring countries. Today, the indigenous population of the country is 300,000 people, and there are another 2.5 million migrants from neighboring countries. It was the migrants who brought their culinary traditions to Qatar.
Qatari cuisine what to try
Samosas (pastry with fillings, those in the left part of the window) are one of the most popular types of Arab fast food.

Below are the main points regarding Qatari cuisine and what awaits all tourists:

  • Alcohol and pork are completely banned in Qatar. Pork is neither grown nor imported here, so it is theoretically impossible to find pork dishes in the country’s cuisine.
  • All food in Qatar is quite spicy, especially rice dishes.
  • Rice and chickpeas are the main ingredients in Qatari cuisine.
  • European cuisine dishes can be found in Doha, and you can even have pizza and pasta, but these eateries are quite expensive, and there are many of them in new districts of the city, such as West Bay or The Pearl.
  • The menu of all eateries, even the cheapest ones, is duplicated in English, which is very convenient for tourists.
  • Tea here is very sweet and with milk. It’s an acquired taste ๐Ÿ™‚

Interesting fact:

One thing to be prepared for is that many dishes are eaten here with hands, even rice with various sauces. You are in an Arab country, and this is normal here.
qatar arabic food menu
The menu in the photos clearly shows all the main Arab dishes, which are also Qatari. The feature here is that visually, you won’t be able to tell the difference between these dishes, they all look like pilaf ๐Ÿ™‚ they differ only in spices and sauces.

Qatari cuisine: what to try as a tourist

As you may have already realized, there are no truly Qatari dishes in the country’s cuisine, but there are plenty of Arab cuisine dishes and traditional Middle Eastern food. You can try these dishes at any eatery. The largest number of cafes and restaurants can be found in the Souq Waqif market area. Come to the market, it’s both an interesting sight and the only place where you can buy all the souvenirs and also have a hearty meal at local eateries.


For breakfast in Doha, a standard set is often served, especially in local cafes: flatbread, hummus, and shakshuka. These are practically dishes from Israeli cuisine.

Good to know:

hummus is frequently eaten in Qatar, which is a spread made from chickpeas, sesame seeds, and spices. And shakshuka, another traditional Israeli dish, is similar to our scrambled eggs but with lots of tomatoes and Middle Eastern spices.
tortillas cuisine of Qatar
These flatbreads (on the right) are often prepared for breakfast in Doha, plain or with a spicy filling. On the left is a European-style omelet, although it was listed as shakshuka on the menu. Shakshuka was also on the menu.
  • Majboos is the main dish in Qatari cuisine. It’s on almost every restaurant’s menu and is eaten for lunch and dinner. The portion is always large, and it’s usually spicy. It’s made with rice, chicken, curry, and other seasonings. It’s served with 3-4 sauces, which are also spicy ๐Ÿ™‚ In simple terms, it’s similar to pilaf or paella.
    • There’s also a dish in Qatari cuisine called Madfhoon (pictured in the menu above), but you probably won’t be able to distinguish it from Majboos by its appearance. The base of the dish and the cooking method are the same; it only differs in the seasonings, spices, and sauces.
majboos in qatar dish
Qatari cuisine is primarily Majboos, but Madfhoon looks the same. The portions are always so large, and the sauces and spices differ. All the sauces are always spicy, except for the white one in the photo made from laban (something similar to ayran); it’s not spicy and helps to cool down the heat in your mouth.
  • Madrouba is a spicy dish made from chicken, rice, and a large number of seasonings: turmeric, cumin, cardamom, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and garlic. I don’t like Madrouba because it’s always very spicy. It looks like the Majboos mentioned above, and sometimes it’s something else entirely. It depends on the cook and which country they’re from, Palestine or India ๐Ÿ™‚
national dishes and food of qatar and doha
Madrouba – all rice dishes are the same to me. Madrouba is always served with a very spicy sauce, which is right next to it on the plate.
  • Harees – a dish made from ground wheat, chicken, and fat. It is cooked slowly for 2-3 hours. One of Qatar’s non-spicy dishes.
what do they eat in qatar for breakfast porridge
Harees is not only eaten for breakfast. It has a delicate creamy taste when eaten with butter.
  • The most common soup here is lentil soup. Lentils are boiled for a long time until they become almost like a puree. The result is a very thick soup-puree.
National cuisine of Qatar
There is a wide selection of soups in Qatar, with about 5 types available in any restaurant. Usually, it is onion soup, crab soup, spicy chicken soup, and lentil soup. The photo shows lentil soup. Cilantro is often added to it, which is actually loved and respected in Qatar.
  • If you’re looking for fast food that you can eat on the go, the standard options are shawarma, also known as donner, also known as durum, and a huge variety of samosas. Samosas are small fried triangle pastry with filling inside. It’s usually chicken, lamb, or even camel meat, but there are also vegetarian, chickpea-filled ones, and so on.

Regarding the travel cost to Qatar, how much you will spend on food in restaurants can be found in the link. (Spoiler: if you eat at Pakistani or Palestinian street food stalls, it’s cheap).

Tips

These are the most basic dishes of Qatari cuisine. Firstly, it’s not known for its great variety, with many rice dishes that look like pilaf without carrots, but are called by different names – there are more than 10 of them here. Secondly, everything or almost everything is quite spicy, with some dishes being extremely hot.

Travel tips:

  • I recommend everyone to try Majboos – the cornerstone of Qatari cuisine.
  • Lentil soup is my favorite. Just ask for it without cilantro if you don’t like it, like me. By the way, cilantro is used quite often in Qatari cuisine.
  • Try the samosas and all sorts of local breads from fast food places – they are delicious here.
  • And don’t forget, if you don’t like the local cuisine, which can happen, there is plenty of familiar food available here, such as french fries, burgers, shawarma, and classic vegetable salads. You won’t go hungry in Qatar.

In conclusion, Qatari cuisine cannot boast of being a culinary paradise with dozens of sophisticated and diverse dishes. Moreover, it is a borrowed cuisine from the entire Middle East, formed by Qatar’s geographical location and relatively barren and infertile lands where little grows.

Yes, nowadays in Qatar there are restaurants with cuisine and ingredients from all over the world, and you can even go to a restaurant with Polynesian cuisine. There are a dozen cool Italian restaurants, Mexican ones, but a gastronomic tourist can also find something to try from the Arab cuisine here.


Resources to help you plan your dream trip to Qatar

  • Flights at the best prices with discounts
  • Car rental: Discovery Cars (cheaper – only by bus)
  • Hotels and apartments in Doha: Booking
  • Tours, excursions and activities (including extreme ones):
    • GYG – more than 500 tours
    • Viator – excursions and activities throughout the country
  • Comprehensive travel insurance: EKTA
  • eSIM virtual sim card with internet in Montenegro