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March 2013 – Workshop 1

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Qatar is a small peninsula on the western shore of the Arabian Gulf that covers approximately 4,247 square miles. Neighboring countries include Bahrain to the northwest, Iran to the northeast, and the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia to the south. In 1998, the population was estimated at 579,000. Most estimates agree that only about 20 percent of the population are Qatari, with the remainder being foreign workers.

Food in Daily Life The presence of foreign workers has introduced foods from all over the world. Qatar’s cuisine has been influenced by close links to Iran and India and more recently by the arrival of Arabs from North Africa and the Levant as well as Muslim dietary conventions. Muslims generally refrain from eating pork and drinking alcohol, and neither is served publicly. Foods central to Qatar’s cuisine include the many native varieties of dates and seafood. Other foods grown locally or in Iran are considered local delicacies, including sour apples and fresh almonds. The traditional dish machbous is a richly spiced rice combined with meat and/or seafood and traditionally served from a large communal platter.

For the reason that the workday starts in the early hours, breakfast is frequently served at about six o’clock ante meridian. It is easy, made of olives, cheese, yoghurt and coffee. But lunch is the main meal of the day. Lunch regularly begins with appetizers, followed by fish or Lamb stew, salads, cooked vegetables, bread and fruit. Local plates consist of matchbous which is spiced Lamb with rice, hareis which is prepared by slow-cooked Wheat and tender Lamb and seafood eaten with seasoned rice.

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Qatar cuisine also contains desserts including “Khabees” which is prepared by using semoolina, rosewater, cardommom, saffron, nuts and dates. As well as “Aseeda”, “Lugaymat” ( dumplings fried in deep oil and sweetened using honey or sugar syrup) Desserts are normally enjoyed with a cup of Arabic coffee and it is a central feature of the cuisine. Arabian coffee made of a lightly roasted bean that is sweetened and spiced with cardamon is served in small thimble-shaped cups to guests in homes and offices. Most households keep a vacuum jug of coffee and sometimes tea ready for visitors. Another beverage, qahwa helw (sweet coffee), a vivid orange infusion of saffron, cardamon, and sugar, is served on special occasions and by the elite. In recent years, restaurants and fast-food franchises have opened.

Each traditional dish has a special cooking method, which is more or less general in all of Qatari regions. While there are no specific or unique preparation methods for Qatari cooking, we should point out that attention to detail is important in the Qatari cuisine. Qatari cuisine uses elements from various cooking traditions borrowed from their neighbors and developed from their own traditional dishes, like Iranian and Turkish combined with nomad and Indian. Using the right amount of spices for example is essential – either for spicing up the taste or for coloring the dish. The diversity of vegetables and cereals found in Qatar is also noticed in the delicious dishes belonging to their cuisine. Meat is one of the main elements of most Qatari dishes. Qatari people prepare most of the meals with hands, because they believe in that hand gives to the food a good energy. Today food in Qatar features several cuisine which carry the imprints of food of several countries like India, Pakistan, Iran and Lebanon but American fast food is the most popular food in Qatar among the youngsters.

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