Qatar is a peninsula situated on the West Coast of the Arabian Gulf. The country is endowed with natural wealth in the form of oil reserves. Qatar’s customs, laws and practices are strongly founded on Islamic ideals, beliefs, traditions and culture. Qatar is an ideal place to illustrate and display different types of cuisine – Gulf, Middle Eastern, Asian, Iranian, and Turkish. Qatar food offers a variety of cuisines to choose from.
The original traditional Qatar food was suitable for the lifestyle of the nomads, who ate foods that they could easily carry from one place to another such as rice, dates, and the meat of sheep and camels. However, with changing times, the Qatari cuisine had undergone modifications. Most importantly, it got influenced by the food cultures of its neighboring countries like India, Pakistan, Iran, and Lebanon. In addition, American food also became quite popular in this part of the world.
Traditional Qatar food comprises of mutton and lamb along with yoghurt from cow or goat milk. Some of the most popular Arab delicacies include Hummus, Tabbouleh, Ghuzi, Koussa mahshi, Shawarma, and Kebab. In addition, people in Qatar even relish consuming a wide variety of seafoods like shrimp, lobster, tuna, red snapper, crab, and kingfish. Amusingly, Qatari people follow food habits that are very much traditional. Like most of the people living in the Gulf and the Middle East, people in Qatar eat without using cutlery. They eat with their right hand and use their fingers.
The work day in Qatar starts fairly early and breakfast is served at around 6.00 am. For Qatari people, breakfast is quite a light affair. Lunch is the most important meal of the day and is eaten after 1.00 pm. A typical Qatari lunch is a very elaborate affair that begins with appetizers. Other dishes include salads, stewed fish or lamb, vegetables, fruits, and bread. On the contrary, dinners are served late and are again light, except on the occasion of Ramadan and other festivals. Some of the significant local Qatar food include matchbous which is a spicy dish made with lamb and rice, hareis that contains delicately-cooked wheat and tender lamb, and sea food which is normally taken along with rice. Qatari cuisine also includes special deserts called ‘Umm Ali’, ‘Esh Asaraya’ and ‘Mehalabiya’
Eating Qatar food is an exciting and rich experience. Muslims do not eat pork and they only eat halal meat, which is prepared by the slaughter house according to the Muslim laws. Food in Doha and other tourist resorts in Qatar are not specifically restricted to traditional dishes alone. Drinking alcohol is mostly restricted to pubs and night clubs. Cuisine from all the places in the world can be found in Qatar, with special emphasis on India, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq. The number of fast food restaurants has gone up sharply as American food is extremely popular with the younger generation. The national specialty of traditional Levantine shawarma (spit-roasted meat shavings and served in pitta bread) is very famous and is a must try. If you are eating out in a restaurant, try the fruit concoctions such as lemon and milk or avocado milk shake – they are great for the terrible summers.
Qataris are famous for their hospitality and food and drink is definitely served to guests. When you are offered any food or drink on a visit, accept at least a little of it – refusal of hospitality may offend your host. When you are in Qatar, do as the Qataris do – eat Qatar food with your fingers and consume a lot of sweet.