This guide presents the best local Qatari dishes worth trying in Doha. The country’s capital has such an incredible diversity of international cuisine that it can be quite hard to find classic Qatari dishes during your visit. Even so, it’s worth the effort of hunting down traditional local restaurants for the amazing food, ranging from hearty home-cooked stews to delicate desserts.
Over the centuries, Qatari food has been influenced by the Levant, North Africa and the Indian subcontinent, as well as nomadic Bedouin culture. The result is a cuisine full of complex flavours with a combination of slow cooking techniques and a rich blend of spices. The food in Doha could easily be the highlight of your trip, so we’ve compiled a list of real Qatari dishes that locals love… and where to find them.
Saloona at Walima
Saloona is a classic Arabic stew that’s often cooked at home for family dinners. It’s designed to be made with whatever you have on hand, but usually starts with beef, lamb or fish plus seasonal vegetables flavoured with garlic and ginger. It should be eaten with a generous helping of bread to soak up the broth.
Walima does a contemporary twist on this and other Qatari dishes at their gleaming, modern restaurant, which is decorated with light colours and Middle Eastern touches like coloured glass lamps. Their take on saloona is a rich and satisfying version, based on chicken and served with thin slices of lime.
Majboos at Al Manchab
Majboos is Qatar’s national dish, making it a must-try when visiting Doha. It’s usually made with either lamb or chicken and is slow-cooked to give it a depth of flavour. It’s served on a bed of seasoned rice accompanied by salad and homemade tomato sauce.
You can eat this dish in practically any Qatari restaurant in Doha, but if you want to push the boat out a little, go for Al Manchab. This swanky restaurant serves a fragrantly seasoned Majboos that’s slow-cooked to perfection and topped with rosemary. Cosy décor with well-cushioned benches and family portraits add real authenticity and make it feel like you’re dining in a Qatari home.
Kousa mahshi at Al Shami Home Restaurant
Kousa mahshi are Middle Eastern courgettes stuffed with minced lamb and vegetables and seasoned with parsley and mint. You can also find many Doha restaurants serving chickpea versions for vegetarians. Dip them in tomato paste or yoghurt for the complete experience.
Dining at Al Shami Home Restaurant often results in a unique experience. It’s decorated like a traditional Berber tent, with fabric hung from the ceiling and a marble fountain. The authentic kousa mahshi here are packed with flavour and come in generous portions.
Luqaimat at Chai Halib
A ubiquitous dessert in Qatar, luqaimat are sweet dumplings flavoured with cardamom and saffron, which are deep-fried and drenched with sugar syrup, a little bit like a doughnut. The ideal luqaimat is crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.
Chai Halib offers luqaimat in a staggering range of flavours, from the fairly traditional date to chocolatey Snickers ones. The café is modelled after a traditional Arabic tearoom and your luqaimat pairs well with a cup of strong Arabic coffee.