September 12, 2023

Food and Drink

Qatar's nomadic history, land and sea trade with Arabia, North Africa, Persia and India, and the influx of migrants over the centuries have contributed not only to its heritage and culture but also to its cuisine. Qatari fare is a blend of its history with spices and flavours from all over Asia and the Middle East. Traditional dishes are full of complex flavours, with combinations of nuts, spices, beans, legumes and grains, fresh, seasonal ingredients, meat and fish, and rice. Even the desserts, tea and coffee are infused with spices. As a general rule, dishes are slow-cooked, one-pot dishes, food to share and to be eaten by hand. 

While there are many favourite foods, Machboos is the nation's national dish, a meal of slow-cooked meat flavoured with a blend of herbs and spices and served with seasoned rice. Desserts are popular too. Luqaimat, deep-fried sweet dumplings flavoured with cardamom and saffron and drenched with sugar syrup, and Um Ali, an Egyptian-style bread pudding flavoured with raisins, chopped nuts, sweetened milk and cinnamon, are two of the best-loved. Karak, milk tea with cardamom, saffron and sugar, and Arabic coffee, spiced with cardamom and served with dates, are typical refreshments served after food. Dates and fish are probably considered staple foods across the nation.

However, traditional food is not the only fare in Qatar. Over the past seventy years, the tiny Arab nation has seen a massive inflow of ex-pats into the country. And with the flow of people from across the world, new flavours and cuisines have filtered into the country's menu. These days, you can just as easily sit down to eat foods from Japan, Korea, China, Mongolia, Nepal, Thailand, India, Pakistan, America, South America and Europe as you can a traditional dish. 

And the type and number of eateries in Qatar are insane! Restaurants and cafes, cafeterias and food halls, food trucks, kiosks and pop-up food stands, diners and sports bars, bistros, grills and barbeques, buffets, fast food, themed dining, fine dining, casual dining, poolside dining, rooftop dining, beachside dining, alfresco dining - the list is endless. You can find traditional rustic restaurants with inexpensive menus, where sitting on the floor is the norm and eating with your hand is expected. On the other side of the coin, some eateries serve only the most sought-after ingredients cooked by internationally renowned chefs in the plushest of environments. You can even try a little karaoke, watch live bands and performers in some restaurants, try fine dining at the cinema, or sup hot chocolate in an ice cafe.  

If you can think of it, Qatar probably has the eatery of your dreams…and a host of others you've never considered. The only option is to dive straight in and tickle your taste buds.

Food and Drink

Qatar shares food flavours with Asian and Middle Eastern nations, but global cuisine is just as easy to find.

Published: June 21, 2022
Last updated: September 12, 2023