Indian restaurants add spice to living in Qatar

By Sudeep Sonawane
June 2014

Around half past seven in the evening, the middle grade Indian restaurant in Najma,(1, Notes) Doha, buzzes with life. Waiters scurry around attending diners either conversing with one another, eating or waiting for their order.
Amid this bustle, a fraillooking waiter stands quietly in the aisle, head bowed, as the diner scolds him in Hindi.
“Mei yahan dus minute say baitha hoon, aur tumh abhi aaye?” shouts the diner, in the early thirties. (I’m sitting here for the last ten minutes and you have come now?)
“I was busy with another order,” replies the Nepalese waiter.
Diners, sitting nearby, stop eating and stare at the angry man. The room sinks into silence.
“Don’t give me excuses, you lazy idiot,” the irate man hollers in a high pitch. He continues his verbal for tirade for a minute and signs off with “I don’t eat here free, I pay to eat!”
Hearing this, a senior executive, sitting two tables away gets up.
“Dad sit! Don’t get into this,” says the executive’s teenaged son.
Ignoring his son’s plea, the executive, loudly says, “Hey you! Talk politely and lower you voice. You are disturbing everyone.”
“Yooouu! Stay out of this,” the irate man retorts.
The senior executive’s defence for the hapless waiter encourages another diner to shout, “No one eats free. Go home and learn some manners!”
“Stop shouting,” reprimands another.
Noticing the swell of support for the waiter, the irate man goes pale and sinks lower into the chair.
Hearing the commotion, the restaurant manager rushes to the scene of disturbance and starts apologising to the irate man.
“Don’t apologise! Throw this ill-mannered idiot out,” the executive says sternly.
Watching angry faces around him, the irate man slowly gets up and slinks out, murmuring indignantly. Some diners laughed at the whining of a defeated man.
The restaurant manager walks towards the executive’s table. He sheepishly says, “Sorry sir! Such incidents are rare, but they do happen some times. We are helpless. We do our best. Some people always complain. We have a difficult job.”
This incident shows how difficult it is to please diners. Somebody wants fast service, someone questions why the butter chicken2 is topped with cream, “the bhel puri3 is dry”, grumbles another while a child complains to parents, “the dosa4 too crisp”.
Welcome to managing an Indian restaurant in a foreign country.

Swagath Restaurant, now closed, served single executives from Asia living in Doha.

Managing Indian restaurant in the Middle East is difficult

“Running an Indian cuisine restaurant in a foreign country for any owner is like walking on a tightrope without a beam to keep balance. One shaky step and you fall,” says Peter Tong, a Doha-based restaurateur (He is now General Manager HMSHost International Qatar).

“Restaurants are a complex and difficult business. The manager and the head chef have to ensure a hundred tasks that conform to industry and local regulator’s safety standards. These start from buying vegetables, lentils, food grains, meat, fish, spices, and condiments to cooking them and finally serving to the diner who may list his or her own preferences. Preparing and serving tasty Indian cuisine to diners in a classy setting is important for me and my kitchen staff.”

Peter Tong brought his five-star experience honed in The Oberoi, Bombay to Qatar.

Peter Tong’s fastidiousness for hygienically prepared tasty food and served in a classy setting comes from his experience of working for five-star hotels. Before he came to Qatar in 1990, he worked for Taj, Bangalore, and The Oberoi, Bombay. He extended his five-star tenure when he joined Ramada, one of Doha’s premier hotels, near the junction of Salwa Road and ‘C’ Ring Road. He pioneered many Indian cultural firsts for Chingari, one of the 22 restaurants in Ramada, now known as Radisson Blu, following the change in ownership stakes in July 2012.

As Food and Beverage Manager at Ramada, Tong introduced a live ghazal5 troupe, the idea of baking tandoori6 and roomali roti7 before the diners. He also brought in a Rajasthani artisan to make traditional Indian handicraft bangles for customers near the door of Chingari Restaurant on the ground floor.

“Life and business was languid in Qatar around a decade and a half ago. Innovation helps to create a niche in this market. We started this idea of ethnic Indian food festivals here with the launch of Punjabi Food Festival in Chingari,” says Tong who later left Ramada to start his business. He is currently the Operations Manager of Princess Catering Company which holds franchise of two brands from Bombay – Sukh SagarTM and Moti Mahal – besides Wok n Walk.

Indian restaurants a boon to Asians in Qatar

Indian restaurants offer a lifeline to foreign nationals in Qatar. Asians from Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia savour ethnic Indian cuisine at these restaurants. Beyond delicious taste, many Asians regularly dine at middle level restaurants because they are inexpensive. Low-priced eateries do good business in Al Khor, Meisaeed and Dukhan, Qatar’s other cities.

Qatar has over 45 Indian cuisine restaurants. Five-star restaurants are in the main business district while signature outlets of celebrity chefs, upper middle-class, and lower middle-class eateries dot the city. The number rises to around 70 after including single-shutter, cafeterias that serve juices, sandwiches, kadak chai (strong tea) and coffee.

Doha Marriott’s Taj Rasoi serves delicious Indian cuisine prepared by chef Marsel D’Cruse.

Taj Rasoi at Doha Marriott, off the Ras Abu Aboud Highway, and Chingari and Bombay Balti at Radisson Blu, are among top five-star restaurants.

Kolkata native, Chef Marsel D’Cruse, 49, manages the 42-seater Taj Rasoi since 2002. He says, “I put my heart and soul in my preparations for Indian diners who yearn for mother’s magical touch in their food.”

His signature preparations are Thirkee ka Daal, which he cooks for 11 to 12 hours on low flame, and Vegetable Jahangiri, straight from a Kashmiri farm.

Executive Sous Chef Rajarshi Ganguly is also from Kolkata, but in Qatar on a British passport. He says, “Taj Rasoi’s presentation is modern, but the taste is genuinely Indian. Its roots trace back to various Indian cuisines mastered there.”  (Ganguly is now Assistant Director of Food & Beverage Marriott International Doha).

“The key to preparing a delicacy is using the right ingredients. I use only fresh vegetables and meat from the butchery, no frozen foodstuff from the cold stores,” says D’Cruse. He shuns ready-made spices available in supermarkets. He uses common spices like turmeric, chillis, cardamom, cloves, coriander, cinnamon, cumin, mustard, fennel and fenugreek seeds. “I use 20 different kinds of spices. I add special spices like paan jad, kush ka jad, pathar ka phul (Stone flower) in my garam (hot) masala.”

Ritz-Carlton Doha’s Banquet and Outdoor Catering Senior Chef de Cuisine, Biju George adapts Indian cuisine to suit Arab and European guests visiting the five-star hotel in West Bay.

“Our guests are mainly Arabs and Europeans so we adjust spicy Indian preparations to suit their mild taste. Many diners love our food for its rich flavour and the lingering taste of the right mix of spices, says 45-year-old Biju, a native of Kerala. His signature dish is chicken and mutton biryanis that Ritz-Carlton kitchen team often makes for special banquets with covers ranging from 600 to 1600 guests.

Next come signature restaurants like Khazana, a franchisee of celebrity Chef Sanjeev Kapoor at Souq Waqif. Asha’s found at Villaggio Mall, in Aspire Zone in the west end of Doha, and Saffron at Katara Cultural Village.

Upper middle-class restaurants come next. They serve various ethnic cuisines from major Indian states; some also serve Chinese and Continental. Prices are between QR 25 to 45. Leading this category is John Matthew’s Sterling Group that has Caravan, Ponderosa and Pizza Hut at Ramada Junction, and Bukhara within the Khalifa Tennis and Squash Complex.

Lifestyle Restaurants are the next big chain in this range. Managing Director Yoonus Salim Vappattu and team planned their ten restaurants with good aesthetics and fancy names. “Good décor catches diners’ attention,” says 44-year-old Yoonus Salim, living in Qatar almost two decades.

Lifestyle Restaurants MD Yoonous Salim Vappattu says, ‘Well-designed restaurants with good colour schemes encourage diners to linger on and chat.’ Above, Yoonous in Rio de Janerio during the FIFA World Cup in 2014.

Their restaurants include Biryani Hut, Idly Factory, and Chocolate House in Wakrah. Closer to city are Royal Indian at The Mall and Baba ChapaTea. Farther away in West Bay are Tamarind Indian and Burger Gourmet, which serves various burgers from QR 35 to QR 300. This group has one Arabian cuisine outlet called Bait Al Azz, a signature Filipino restaurant called Gerry’s Grill at Freej Al Nasser and Nino that serves pastas, grills, pizza, and burgers.

“We make speciality foods, made with best ingredients, and serve in restaurants designed with attractive themes,” says Yoonus Salim, “Well-designed restaurants with good colour schemes encourage diners to linger on and chat.”

Burger Gourmet, on the ground floor of Zig Zag Towers, around 20 kilometres from Doha city, has an appealing black-and-white décor where young people throng. Groups of well-heeled Qatarian men and women, in their late 20s and 30s hang out here. Curiously, many speak in a westernised English accent, while some speak Arabic language.

“Burger Gourmet is the first international standard burger idea developed in Qatar. Our restaurants have a good ambience that attracts high-end diners. We believe in providing the best to our guests,” says Yoonus Salim.

Other restaurants in the same category are Royal Tandoor, Asiana, Aryaas (vegetarian), Anjappar Chettinad, and Aalishan.

Many middle level restaurants serve ethnic Indian food from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra, Karnataka, and Maharashtra. They mainly serve Asian professionals. Among the better ones are Kebab King, Mazza, Maharaja, Swagat, Saravana Bhavan, Bharat Restaurant, Vasanta Bhavan, Prestige, Udupi International, Palm Grove, Spices, Hyderabad Deccan, Welcome Dine, Bombay Chowpatty and Neelima. Qatar’s only Maharashtrian restaurant goes by the name Maharashtra’s Pride. Aryaas’s branch at Al Meera Consumer Good Company building in Al Mansoura also ranks in this lot.

There are over one dozen fine dining Indian restaurants in Qatar. High-end executives and their families regularly dine in these. Other Indian families visit middle-level restaurants. Single men dine at low-end eateries like the Jawahar restaurants in Al Sadd, Najma, Fereej bin Abdel Aziz, Salwa Road and Al Khor. Different managements run these, but under a common sponsor. Athiti and Bombay Sweets in Najma, and Top Star on 23 Jazeera Street, in Fereej Bin Mahmoud are popular low-end eateries. Top Star offers a full course meal between Qatari Riyals (QR) 5 to 8 or Indian Rupees (INR) 85 to 136  around @ of QR 1 = Rs 17.

From Marine Drive to Doha Corniche

Vegetarian restaurant Sukh Sagar, which means ocean of happiness in Hindi language, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2012. Suresh Poojari set it up in 1962 as ‘Juice Centre’ in Bombay at Marine Drive. The restaurant stands two blocks away from Wilson College opposite the famous Chowpatty. Chowpatty means beachfront in Hindi. This beachfront is famous for spicy snacks like bhel puri, pani puri8 and ragada pattice9.

“When I decided to start my business here”, says Peter Tong, “I did a survey and found Qatar had many non-vegetarian restaurants, but few vegetarian outlets. With many vegetarians among the increasing Indian population, nearing the half million mark, I decided to start one near the former Qatar National Museum10.”

Sukh Sagar stands in a quiet neighbourhood, close to the Corniche. This multiIndian cuisine restaurant also specialises in samosa chaats11, bhel puri, sev puri12, dahi batata puri13 and varieties of snacks. It occupies the upper tier of middle grade restaurants in Qatar.

There are many restaurants in this category. Sterling Group’s Caravan, Ponderosa, Star of India and Bukhara located at the Khalifa Tennis and Squash Complex – all serve ethnic Indian cuisine and much more in classy settings. Other notable restaurants in the same category are The Royal Garden Restaurant, Royal Tandur, Asiana, Aaryaas (veg), Anjappar Chettinad and Aalishan (veg, Non-veg).

Ethnic food restaurants from southern and western India dominate the dining out market in Qatar. They include Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat. Professionals from Asia regularly dine at these restaurants. The list of restaurants include Aaryaas’s branch at Al Meera Consumer Good Company premises in Al Mansoura, Saravanaa Bhavan, Bharat Restaurant, Vasanta Bhavan, Prestige, Udupi International, Rotana, Spices, Deccan Deewan Restaurant, Kebab King, Maharaja Restaurant, Swagat Restaurant, Bombay Chowpatty, Bombay Sweets & Restaurant and Maharashtra’s Pride which was till 2012 known as Mirch Masala under a different management.

Executive category diners satisfy their palette with the choicest Indian cuisine at the high-end fine dining restaurants, numbering a little over a dozen in Qatar. Most of the average Indian residents regularly dine at middle-level and low-end eateries. Some like the Jawahar chain and Top Star offer a full course meal from eight to ten Qatari Riyals (QR), or around Indian Rupees (INR) 144 to 180.

Bonanza, two-decades-old restaurant, caters mainly to lower middle-class people. It offers affordable dosas, idlis, vadas, uttapam and other delicacies with a Tamil flavour. Just 25 feet away stands more than four decades old Badriya Restaurant in Fereej Bin Mahmoud. The south Indian eateries rank high on the popularity list.

Whether top or low-end eateries, there is a seat for every budget in Indian owned and managed restaurants in Qatar. They start from QR 7 and go beyond QR 500. There’s ethnic cuisine on offer from, Malabar, Udupi, Chettinad, Mangalore, Hyderabad, Mughlai, Punjab, Bengal, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Garhwali, Kashmir, Puneri, Kolhapuri, Konkani to Goanese.

Sukh Sagar’s (llc) Dubai-based Managing Director and Suresh’ son, Dhanraj Poojari who advocates vegetarianism says, “Cooking is all about innovation. There may be a universally acceptable taste say for biryani, but people have different likes. Someone may like dry bhel puri, while someone may prefer it wet. There are eight different varieties of sambhar in Andhra Pradesh. Then you have the Bombay taste that has become universal. It is a city of dreams like New York where all concepts are developed and further scaled up from there.”

Yoonus Salim reiterates the view that taste varies. “Before launching Garden Hyderabadi Restaurant (now defunct) in Doha, I went on a culinary tour of Hyderabad specifically looking for the typical Hyderabadi biryani. I tried many restaurants, but each had a different taste.” 

Unlike Matthew, Yoonus, Tong, and Kebab King’s Thomas Fernandes, a few other people are in this business only for profits, not to serve tasty food. They form a pool of investors, buy a restaurant, operate it for a few years, and then sell when estate value appreciates.

Pune resident Asif Shaikh, 33, bought Mirch Masala restaurant, at Shara Al Khalij near Jaidah Bridge, for QR 500,000 (INR 8.5 Million approximately) from the previous pool of owners. He renamed it to Maharashtra’s Pride, renovated it, hired new kitchen staff, and set up Qatar’s first ethnic Maharashtrian eatery. “I broke even in less than a year,” says Shaikh who serves preparations like Gauvarn thali, Moong Masala, Saboodana vadee, poha, sheera, samosas, kandey bajjee and batata vada.

Businesspersons who are traditionally not restaurateurs often sell their restaurants within a couple of years for capital gains. This makes the staff, sold along with the rented premises, insecure.

Ravindran Nair, 52, plans to return to Thissur in Kerala after Homeland Restaurant in Musherib changed ownership in June 2013. Nair does not admit he is insecure with the new management being non-Keralite. He diplomatically says, “It is time to go home. I want to be with my family, I have been working as a cook for 40 years, 30 years in Qatar and ten in India.”

Bismillah Royal Tandoor, one of the oldest restaurants in Souq Waqif, Doha.

Bismillah, oldest Indian restaurant

The oldest Indian restaurant called Bismillah, set up in 1960s at Souq Waqif by a Keralite, well known for his philanthropy as well as a Malabari restaurateur. He was the first benefactors of many poor Indian workers, mainly from Kerala, who stepped off the boat on to Doha’s shores in the 1960s.

Most reached Doha from Malabar Coast in Kerala. They arrived with the hope of finding work to provide for their families back home in India. The brave fortune-seekers had little else besides a few possessions, integrity and the will to do hard work in an unfamiliar country. Barring a small percentage of enterprising Muslim Keralites, not many could speak beyond a couple of phrases in Arabic language. With nowhere to go, worried young men in their mid twenties, clutching rexine satchels comprising a few shirts, vests, mundans and toiletries would often land up at Bismillah Restaurant’s doorstep. The ever-smiling owner’s warm welcome in Malayalam would extend beyond providing a meal to those who sought his help. He would host every new man off the boat for months until he found him a suitable job.

With such goodwill attached to Bismillah Restaurant, William Arhana, the new owner who bought the title in 2009, kept the name, in honour of Bismillah’s contribution to the expatriate Indian community. The new restaurant called Bismillah Royal Tandoor stands in the refurbished Souq Waqif, architecturally redesigned with wooden rafters, beams, teakwood frame doors and windows to recreate the 1950 and 60s old-world charm.

Restaurateurs face many challenges

Good and competitively priced food comes on the table after much effort. Restaurant owners face many challenges while managing a multinational staff.

Savy Hospitality Chief Executive Officer Sameer Adam, also associated with Yoonus’ Garden Group of hotels says, “Managing a multi-cuisine chain of restaurants which, by default, has a multinational staff is difficult. We ensure all staff members are happy. How can we claim to please our guests if we cannot look after our staff? We go the extra mile in serving the interests of our staff like the accommodation, transport and food needs before we serve our guests. Preparing daily meals for a multinational staff is difficult. Some like meat, some like vegetables; someone doesn’t like aubergine, someone doesn’t like noodles, you name it! So, there will always be a group of people that will never be happy with the food.

“The problems do not end when a captain, steward or waitress’s shift ends. There are other issues at their accommodation. Staff from the Philippines wants fellow countryman/woman as roommate. Same is the case with Indians, Nepalese and Turks. If we resolve this, someone does not like to watch family drama serials on television, someone likes sports or Hollywood films; someone listens to loud music… the complaints is endless.

“A recruit faces many starting problems. Culture shock comes first followed by adapting to a new environment. Then there’s issue of compatibility with colleagues coming from different countries of the world. Staff from non-Asian backgrounds need special orientation to the new work culture as well as the cultural sensitivities prevailing in Qatar,” says the 41-year-old CEO.

Restaurants have a short life span in Qatar

Whether Indian, Turkish, Lebanese, Egyptian, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi or Filipino, restaurants do not enjoy a long tenure in Qatar. Many restaurants either close within three to four years of starting or move to a different place. Reasons include change of ownership, poor business, new terms between partners or sponsor at the end of lease and razing of property to make way for new constructions.

Expiry of rental agreement between the restaurateur and the Qatari owner of the property is the main reason. Another reason is the big increase in rent by the owner. This often compels restaurateurs to close business. Dispute between partners is another reason. Some Indian restaurants have eight to ten partners. The chance of disagreements increases as the number of partners in the business increases. Many Indian restaurants close because of this reason.

The construction boom in Qatar is another reason. Residential and business district construction spiked in Qatar 2006 onwards. Despite the global economic slowdown in 2008 and 2009 construction work raced ahead in Qatar. The authorities demolished old residential and commercial blocks in downtown Doha. Many restaurants, cafeterias and eateries perished in this redevelopment drive.

Kolkata-based mechanical engineer and one of the leaders of the Indian community forums under the umbrella of the Indian Embassy, Nilangshu Dey, a NRI living in Doha since the last 25 years, says, “Qatar is in construction overdrive. So residential and commercial properties in old localities, particularly those in Musherib, Fereej Bin Mahmoud, Fereej Bin Abdel Aziz and Mansoura, are either fading into history or relocating.”

In 2013, the authorities shut down Bonanza and Badriya, two restaurants from the lower end of middle level, ahead of new construction. Both located within 25 feet of each other on Ibn Bin Mahmoud Street served long-time Indian residents from the neighbourhood. Closeness did not conflict their businesses since Bonanza served vegetarian while Badriya focused on biryani and barbecue chicken.

Bonanza, started by 57-year-old Haja Maidee in 1999, invested QR 1.3 million to relocate to a much bigger 100-seater outlet adjacent to the traffic lights junction of ‘B’ Ring Road and Ibn Al Haitham Street. Tragically, high rent and little parking space on the busy road compelled Maidee to close within nine months.

A native of Koothanallur, in Thiruvaru district, around 315 kms from Chennai, Maidee is the first cook to launch Tanjavur cooking style in Qatar. His diners, mainly south Indians, acutely miss idli, vada, dosas, utthapam, various chutneys.

“Relocating is like starting all over again,” says 56-year-old Maidee. He is the first to introduce in Qatar idli, vada, dosas, utthapam and various chutneys (spicy sauces) based on Tanjavur cooking style, and competitively priced between QR 4 to 8. Revealing the secret of Bonanza, he says, “We don’t use readymade masalas (mixture of spices) that come in packets. We prepare all our masalas here by grinding and mixing them proportionately.”

Mazza was One of the first restaurants to relocate due to the demolition plan is Mazza. “We moved from Al Rayyan Road to Airport Road in 2008,” says Manager Alam. “It is difficult to sever ties with old clients, but we look at the brighter side of the new property. Its location near the New Doha International Airport road and ‘D’ Ring Road intersection traffic lights is ideal. It has ample parking space.”

Old or new, all restaurants tell a story of NRIs from Qatar’s pages of history. The routine reality is that these Indian cuisine restaurants add a variety of spice in the lives of the lonely-hearts club band.

——-                                    

 (I wrote this feature on Indian restaurants in Qatar in 2014. It started as a chapter in Indian community leader Mr Nilangshu Dey’s book. Mr Diwakar Poojari, another Indian community volunteer in Doha, had introduced me to Mr Dey. Both consulted me for the book. The book’s theme was prominent Indians’ contribution to Qatar’s business and trade growth from the 1960s. I had several discussions for the book with Mr Dey in his fourth floor apartment in Sulaiti Building, Najma, Doha.

Former Deccan Herald and The Peninsula journalist, Mr Ranjit Bhaskar, lived in an apartment on the same floor of Sulaiti Building while he worked for Al Jazeera news portal. He now (2019) lives in Toronto and works for KPMG. Ranjit hosted me and other journalists every weekend for five years up to 2013 when he left Qatar to live in Canada. Ranjit and I often talked about the global economy and Qatar’s ambitions to host football world cup in 2022.

I interviewed many Indians to gather information for the chapters Mr Dey told me to write for his book. I worked on the chapters assigned to me for almost one year. I did not hear from Mr Dey after I emailed the final draft of the chapters to him. A couple of years later, he invited me to attend his book launch held at Birla Public School. I did not receive payment for my work, but Mr Dey was kind to present me a gift hamper at the book launch!)

Notes:

1. Najma: A middleclass locality between Al Najma Street, Al Mansoura Street and Al Khalidiya Street and C Ring Road. It comprises Non Resident Indians, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Nepalese, Sri Lankans, Filipinos, Chinese, Egyptians, Sudanese, Jordanians, Palestinians and other Arab communities. Qatar’s biggest used and new furniture and home appliances market called Souq Al Haraj is here. There are many Indian restaurants, Arab bakeries, groceries, laundries, saloons, automobile garages, decorative paints and hardware shops.

2. Butter Chicken: a popular north Indian preparation that has boneless chicken pieces in thick gravy whipped up in a creamy sauce made with cashews, almonds, tomatoes, and spices like cumin, fenugreek seeds, bay leaves, cloves, cardamom and cinnamon, onions, green chillies all cooked in butter and oil.

3. Bhel Puri: made from puffed rice and sev – thick fried yellow colour noodles made from lentil dough – boiled potato pieces, cut fresh onions, spices, tamarind sauce with sugar, coriander and green chillies sauce. All layered over four or five flat fired purees, one inch diameter, and the whole mixture is garnished with scrapings of fresh coconut and green coriander leaves.

4. Dosa: fried crepe, from fermented rice batter and black lentils and served with green chillies sauce, fresh coconut milk sauce, some restaurants also serve tomato puree sauce and others lentil sauce. This staple item  is popular in all southern Indian states — KarnatakaAndhra PradeshTamil Nadu and Kerala. It is popular in Sri Lanka and Singapore too.

5 Ghazal: A poem comprising rhyming couplets and a refrain, with each line sharing the same meter. A ghazal is a poetic expression of the protagonist praising his/her lover’s beauty, or expressing grief at the death of a partner, separation, or being dumped. Ghazals usually feature all aspects of love, specifically an illicit and unattainable love. The form of poetry is ancient and scholars say it originated in 6th-century Arabic verse. It is derived from the Arabian panegyric qasida.

6. Tandoor: A clay oven to bake flat bread (or chapatti) used originally in northern India and Pakistan. Tandoori (adjective):  denoting or relating to a style of Indian cooking based on the use of a tandoor.

7. Roomali roti: Roomal (noun), roomali (adjective) literally a handkerchief, roti, flat bread that is usually oven (tandoor) baked.

8. Pani puri: Pani water, puri, fried thin, spherical, hollow flat crisp. Also known as gol gappa, paani kay bataashe in Hindi, and Puchka in Bangla. It is an evening snack sold by roadside vendors in all over India. The vendor breaks hollow crisp with a spoon and stuffs it with a filling of mashed boiled potatoes with black salt, salt, some spices, tamarind pulp (made by mashing ripe tamarind in tamarind water), and chilli powder. 

9. Ragda pattice: Ragda or thick gravy made from soaked and boiled chick peas that is mashed and cooked in hot spices and oil. The second part is pattice or mashed and fried potato dumplings. The pattice are splashed with the gravy and garnished with chopped coriander leaves, onion, green sauce and tamarind sauce.

10. Qatar National Museum (QNM): Located close to Doha Corniche, near the roundabout named after it. According to Qatar Museums Authority (www.qma.com.qa), “The QNM opened in 1975 in a restored palace originally built in the early 20th century by Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani. It served as his family residence and the seat of government for approximately 25 years. Besides the original Emiri Palace, the former QNM included a museum of the State, a lagoon and a very popular marine aquarium. In 1980 the building won the Agha Khan award for restoration and rehabilitation of Islamic architecture.”

11. Samosa chaat: Samosa, chaat  (tasty),  chaats (plural) is a pyramid shaped deep fried dumpling whose outer shell is refined wheat flour and carom seeds. Stuffed inside is a batter of potatoes, green peas, chopped ginger, green and red chili, cumin seeds, dry mango powder and a mix of hot spices in cooking oil.

12. Sev Puri: As in bhel puri, this puri is same flat, fried and crisp made from dough. The four or five puris are spread on a serving plate and topped with dice potatoes, onions, tamarind sauce, green sauce and garlic sauce. This is garnished with sev (thin yellow wiry noodles around one to two centimeters long, made from gram flour and deep fried in oil).

13. Dahi batata puri: The puris are the similar to the ones used in pani puri. The puris are broken with a spoon and mashed potato batter is stuffed inside. Hot spices and pinch of salt are added for taste. Sweet tamarind sauce and green sauce are poured into the puri. Then sweet and well mixed yoghurt is added all over the puris. This is garnished with sev, coriander leaves and some chefs add pomegranate.

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