Five traditional cuisines you need to try this Qatar National Day

Qatar Living
By Qatar Living

Here's another Qatar National Day special, and this time it is about Qatari food. On the occasion of Qatar National Day on December 18th, we will create a series informative posts about Qatar that you will find interesting.

Did you know Qatari cuisine is largely influenced by Iranian and Indian cuisines. And spices like cardamom and saffron are essential spices in delicacies like Machboos or kabsa, a meal consisting of rice, meat, and vegetables, which is considered to be the national dish in Qatar.

If you're in Qatar, as a resident or tourist, your cultural experience will not be complete unless you try the authentic Qatari cuisines.

Expatriates and tourists in Qatar often mistake other Arab cuisines like Hummus, Tabouleh or kebabs to be authentic Qatari dishes but they are levantine cuisines that are very popular here. The low number of restaurants serving traditional Qatari cuisines compared to other cuisines could be the reason why a lot of people get confused.

We decided to list at least five Qatari dishes you all should try if you're in the country.

1. Thareed

This dish can be identified as what we call a pot of stew. In the blend, you will find vegetables like potatoes, carrots, onions, beans and others. It is usually made with either chicken or lamb mixed with tomato sauce and spices.

At the very bottom of the dish you will find pieces of bread soaked in the stew to be softened. Unofficially, some may refer to it as the Qatari lasagna.

2. Machboos or Kabsa

The Qatari Machboos will look similar to a Biriyani. It is a deliciously spiced rice dish that can be cooked with practically any type of meat you might like, to name a few: chicken, lamb, goat, beef, camel, shrimp and fish. This is one of the most popular dishes in any Qatari home.

Finishing touches includes sprinkling rose water and lemon juice over it, which guarantees amazing aroma. The “pang of flavor” will leave you wanting more (which may explain the large portions it comes in).

3. Harees

Harees is a very popular Qatari dish that consists of boiled, cracked, or coarsely-ground wheat, mixed with meat or chicken (or both). Its consistency is usually that of a porridge. Harees is a very popular dish known in the GCC, especially in the month of Ramadan and other festive occasions.

4. Balaleet

Balaleet is a dish known to be eaten for breakfast in Qatar, but is occasionally served as a desert course.  It is a dish that can be eaten cold or hot, depending on your preference. The array of flavours that come with this Indian inspired dish is often very appreciated by people trying it for the first time – it isn’t just sweet and savoury, but can also be crunchy due to the nuts. Often you’d also eat it with a side of omelette.

5. Mehalabiyya

Mahalabiya is kind of a custard/pudding dessert dish made from ground rice milk. In a non-traditional approach, the pudding can be made from many other flavours and added with the suitable toppings. Like much of the Qatari cuisine, Mahalabiya is also infused with rose water for added taste, an alternative is orange blossom.

This dessert is very smooth and easy to eat - light and delightful. Mahalabiya is good option to end a night with, especially with Qatari cuisine. You start with a bang and you end with one as well!


There's definitely more to Qatari cuisine than the five dishes we mentioned above. You may also try Madhrouba, Marghouga, Legaimaat (sweet) to name a few.

Finding a restaurant in Doha that serves traditional Qatari cuisine might not be as easy as you think, but there are plenty of stalls in Souq Waqif that sell these Qatari dishes.

You can also get a taste of these Qatari dishes at Darb Al Saai during Qatar National Day every year.

They are not expensive at all. You could probably get a serving of all the above mentioned dishes combined for about QR100. Well, that's the Qatari way, you never buy one or two dishes, you got to try everything!

Have you tried any of these cuisines before? Which one was your favourite?

Ratings calculated automatically using technology developed at QCRI and MIT.

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By Dubaimagazine• 2 years 10 months ago.

Bonus: food in Qatar:

By mohdhameedhasan• 3 years 2 months ago.

I Love to Eat chicken or mutton Machboos or Kabsa please suggest me a hotel or restaurant name to try

By mango@enjoy2• 3 years 2 months ago.

hhhuuuummmmm love a mutton majboos cooked with butter...delicacies as u can imaging.....

By Qatari92• 3 years 9 months ago.

you can buy Mehalabiyya from Tea Time

By US2Qatar• 3 years 12 months ago.

Ani, thanks. I will pm you as well, but it will be benefit others if you share the information here.

By ani_chy• 3 years 12 months ago.

@US2Qatar - there are some kitchens in Qatar that serve these. You will find that these kitches are not restaurants, but serve as private caterers for large orders and parties.

I stay in Wakra, and know quiet a few of me if need directions or their names..:D

By US2Qatar• 3 years 12 months ago.

So no one knows restaurants which serve these dishes?

By Careers1• 4 years 1 day ago.

Oh i've tried Yummy thareed and harees last ramadhan.. Thanks to our Qatari neighbor who shares their blessings to us. :)

By US2Qatar• 4 years 1 day ago.

Thank you for sharing. Can someone also share restaurants information (name & locations) to try these dishes as well?

By Riyal2Rupee• 4 years 1 day ago.

@ataperla, appreciate ur research,thanks.

@Prize,no doubt shity saka - he's evil.

By ali-54321• 4 years 2 days ago.

tell me in which restaurant i can find all this cuisine ?

By ataperla• 4 years 2 days ago.

and what about the Loqaimat? which is similar to gulab jamun... its nice alos

By ataperla• 4 years 2 days ago.

Machboos or Kabsa originally an Indian cuisine

By ataperla• 4 years 2 days ago.

Mehalabiyya is not a qatari cuisine!!!!!

Thareed is oily faty and yukkyyy!!

Harees i love it but does it comes with Chicken?

Balaleet is really sweet and nice i love it.

By Mrtky• 4 years 2 days ago.

it means -> thanks for sharing

By Prize• 4 years 2 days ago.

I am sorry but some people use tfs as an abuse i don't know if saka's mind is that dirty.because he often abuses innocent qlers on other forums.

By Prize• 4 years 2 days ago.

r u mental sakaera ? do u know the meaning of Tfs ? idiot.

By mast kalandar• 4 years 2 days ago.
mast kalandar

kabsa and harees have tasted but interested to try others as well ...............

By sakaera• 4 years 2 days ago.

Tfs. Very informative.

By Molten Metal• 4 years 2 days ago.
Molten Metal

You need a lot of time for that ...............

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