Doha – A Culinary Haven

More than 8000 miles away, and I am still thinking about the fun filled 2 days in Doha, Qatar. It was a small trip while coming back to the US from our vacation in India. It was not really a planned trip, we were traveling by Qatar airways and thought it would be a good idea to travel to a new country. Never did I think it would be such an awesome two days that we are planning to go back again.

Doha has is a small place if you are thinking of traveling to this Middle Eastern city. Qatar has been chosen as the place for 2022 FIFA World Cup Football and the entire country is getting ready for the mega event.

Its a small country so to speak, you probably would cover almost everything you can see in 2 days, but we took our time and strolled around the foodie heaven, Souq Waqif. Souq Waqif, which literally means “the standing market”, this market had been around for more than a century, but had been destroyed in a fire few years ago and then completely restored in 2008. Souq Waqif is the place to be if you are into world cuisine. There are restaurants from all over the world – Italian, Indian, Turkish, Chinese, you name it and you’ll find it. Along with the big brick and mortar restaurants there are also numerous small street side stalls and vendors selling anything between boiled corn cobs to Turkish ice creams.

When you are in Doha, you must try majboos, apparently its the national dish of Qatar. Majboos is an Arabian recipe made with rice and meat especially lamb. Its quite similar to the Indian biryani but has a tangy taste because of the pickled lemons called loomi and a spice mix called baharat.

And, when in Middle East you must try the kebabs, we tried kebabs from quite a few places around Souq Waqif, but my favorite is the restaurant located inside the souq near the handicraft center, and you have to try their hot flatbreads served complimentary with the kebabs. Also, the fried haloumi cheese, its a semi soft cheese made of sheep and goat’s milk, it is so popular in Doha that you’ll also find it at the MacDonald’s in Doha.

Souq waqif has food every step you take, the Turkish coffee and Turkish ice cream were definitely a fun thing to try out. And, if you are not satisfied with just eating out in Doha, bring some spices and nuts from the numerous spice stores in Souq Waqif.

If you want more from this culinary journey head over to Katara Cultural village in Doha. Katara Cultural Village, as the name suggests is Qatar’s cultural center with many art galleries, souvenir shops, though its still under construction, but there are quite a few restaurants open along with food carts. One such food carts along the Katara beach was selling parathas and I kid you not, it was one of the softest and most moist parathas I have ever had. If you want to head over to a more posh spot for your dinner, there are fine dining restaurants like the Saffron lounge serving Indian cuisine or the L’wzaar Seafood Restaurant.

A culinary journey cannot be complete without a sweet note, and Qatar has loads to offer in that department too. I would definitely suggest to head over to Nabeel Nafiseh Sweet shop, its also located in Souq Waqif and is hard to miss. They offer a huge variety of Middle Eastern sweets from the well know baklava to the crispy kanafeh made with syrup soaked crispy semolina noodles on top with a sweet cheese in the bottom.

Doha had been an great experience and I would definitely go back for all the food that I could not try because of lack of time.

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