Food is a vital part of any culture, which means getting a taste of a country, region or city’s local cuisine helps you better understand their soul.

On your trip to Doha, you’ll see many gastronomical wonders from all around the world. In fact, the Qatari capital has become quite the popular destination for foodies and traveling chefs looking for the best fusion dishes toexpand their knowledge and tickle their taste buds.

But if you want to have an utterly out-of-this-world trip to the city, local offerings should never be absent from your itinerary. If you’re not sure where to begin, below is a list of the six must-try Arabic dishes available in the best restaurants in Doha:

1.   Shawarma

Who doesn’t know shawarma? Almost everyone who is old enough to watch Marvel movies and has access to the Internet knows what this delicious food is.

But on the off chance that you have yet to try it, you must make sure you go grab a bite of this during your visit to Qatar.

While shawarma is originally a Levant-Turkish recipe, it is quite a famous and much-loved food in Doha. In fact, it is becoming a crowd favorite across the world, with so many versions popping up like popcorn on a hot skillet.

The term shawarma is a Turkish word that literally means turning, which aptly describes how the meat is prepared before being wrapped inside a thin piece of bread.

On a rotating skewer, a slab of meat is heated, its every layer gradually cooked from the outside. When the outermost layer is ready, thin pieces are sliced off and shredded further before being placed inside a pita bread wrap, along with vegetables and sauces.

The different spices used for every recipe give shawarma its unique flavor. In some countries, it is called by a different name: gyros in Greece and döner kebab in Germany and Turkey.

Although authentic Arabic shawarma is usually made of lamb, the meat in this dish can also be beef, goat meat, and even chicken.

2.   Kebab

Considered another popular Arab food in Qatar, the kebab is a special dish that can be ordered in many restaurants in Doha.

Kebabs are a versatile dish, thanks to the way they are prepared, cooked and served – with all ingredients skewered and grilled.

Traditionally, a kebab consists of meat (sliced, diced, or even ground-up and molded into balls), vegetables, and fruits. It also comes with a wide range of accompaniments, with chefs and foodies often experimenting to create their own kebab recipe.

Most kebab dishes are also served with various types of bread.

According to food history, the kebab was born from the Turkish practice of grilling skewered meat of freshly hunted animals in open fires. At the time, Turkish soldiers used their swords instead of wooden sticks to cook their kebabs, but the idea is essentially the same.

Today, the kebab has become a widely sought-out dish not only in Turkey, but also in Israel, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, and Qatar. You can find versions of it served in restaurants and food stalls all over Doha at reasonable prices.

3.   Harees

Also called harissa by the locals, harees is a Qatari dish with a similar consistency to porridge (though some versions make it as thick as dumplings).

To make this dish, wheat that has been cracked, coarsely ground or boiled is mixed with meat (chicken, lamb, mutton, or veal). This is basically what its name means: beaten wheat and meat. The Arabic harasa words also mean to smash or to mash.

Traditional harees is quite a simple dish. Some may even call it plain. However, some recipes toss in cinnamon and cardamom, garlic and cardamom, or other spice combinations for added flavor. Some even add crispy onions, a dash of ginger, and drops of lime to elevate the taste.

Despite being visually unimpressive, harees contains lots of nutrients and can be quite filling, which explains why it’s a favorite meal among Muslims who break their fast at Iftar during Ramadan.

4.   Machboos

Also known as kabsa, machboos is a well-known rice-based dish deemed a hallmark of Qatari cuisine.

Like many items on this list, this dish can be prepared using different meats and seafood, including lamb, goat, chicken, beef, fish, shrimp, and even camel.

Machboos is food for royalty (literally) and has become famous across borders and religions. Besides the traditional recipe, kabsa can also be sprinkled with lemon juice or rose water for added tang. In addition, it typically comes with a spicy salsa dip and pairs perfectly with long-grain rice called basmati rice.

5.   Fatayer

If you haven’t noticed yet, Arab cuisine has a way of combining bread, meat, and spices in the most delectable way possible. Another dish that stands as proof of this is fatayer, a type of pastry filled with mouthwatering ingredients.

These bite-sized triangular pastries can be made with cheese or spinach fillings called jibnah and sabanekh, respectively. Besides Qatar, it is also quite famous across other Arab nations, including Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Syria.

Fatayer is commonly served in parties and picnics as well as to picky eaters so that they get the nutrients they need. And like many on this list, this dish is another favorite during Ramadan.

6.   Baleleet

If you like vermicelli and omelet, you’ll definitely want a big bite (or a few) of baleleet. Though some may think it odd to combine the two types of dishes into one, baleleet can quickly transform the vermicelli-omelet combo into one of your favorite Qatari dishes.

This dish can be consumed cold or hot, depending on what you like, and is considered a breakfast staple in Doha. On many occasions, it is also served as a dessert, thanks to the wide range of flavors and variations it comes in.

Baleleet is a pasta dish containing sugar, saffron, and rosewater, all of which are topped with an omelet for a sweet-savory taste and a mouthwatering breakfast meal for Eid-al-Fitr celebrations.

The Taste of Qatar

Doha is not only the capital of Qatar – it is also the epicenter of the best gastronomical wonders in the country. Grab a bite of shawarma and other must-try Arab dishes on this list to complete your trip to the city.


Hisham Elzubeir is the Marketing Manager at Doha Festival City, the largest entertainment, fashion, dining and shopping destination in Qatar. The mall has more than 400 international and local brands, including some of the most anticipated names, many of which made their Qatar debut, such as Harvey Nichols, Charlotte Tilbury, Kiehl’s, Dior Beauty Boutique, ACE and IKEA. Hisham brings over 15 years of international expertise to the communications team at Doha Festival City.