Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Taste of Qatar

Sabah al khair! 

Or good morning! I recently learned how important culturally it is to open and close conversations with greetings.  It is so fun to learn these cultural norms because so many of them I think are wonderful practices that we all should include in daily life! 

So one of the things that I was most concerned about and got many questions about was what in the world we would eat while here. Each evening that question still looms although lately we have gotten pretty lucky with our findings! 

Of course in the mornings we have our hotel breakfast buffet. Love that beef bacon! We also are learning to love their coffee, although I will admit that I miss my International Delights Caramel Macchiato creamer. Here, although tea is more popular, coffee is often served with hot milk and sugar, not bad!

Then for lunches I went to the market and grabbed some basic bread, lunch meat and pb&j to make sandwiches. Check out this "milk bread", it is much heavier than normal bread and very delicious! 

( this bread likes to be upside down only, sorry!) 
A normal lunch doesn't mean a normal lunch box though, this is the only lunch box that the hypermarket had for sale. 
Zach decided to pass-- I don't blame him! 

Dinner has not been nearly as easy. 

I was pretty worried the first day when we tried to be cool and local and went to a busy little street stand by the market and grab dinner. I ordered a chicken salad and Z got chicken kabobs. Neither of us finished our dinner that night. My first bite was of the "chicken" and when it crumbled in my mouth I was done. Lol I snagged just this one photo that night of a dessert on the menu... Yum? 

The next night we tried the same method going with another little fast food Indian place by the hypermarket. Strike two. 

Luckily we made friends with a man there from India who helped us understand what in the world was on the menu. Zach ended up with a spicy wrap like item (Bombay Frankies) and I got these small potato filled puffs covered with some sort of yogurt (Dahi Batata Puri) (pictured below). Both were super spicy, again I had a cliff bar for dinner. 

Then Tuesday night we went out again to try more local food ( I don't know why we kept doing this to ourselves!?). This time though we got super lucky! We just so happened to walk by a shop that was beautifully decorated with a completely glass storefront, all stone interior and eclectic decor. No tables, just a counter with one man who turned out to be the owner. We walked in and asked for a menu. He told us that there was no menu and just two options: rice with chicken and rice with shrimp. We got one of each and held our breath. He nodded and went through an opendoorway behind him and started cooking. In moments we heard a large flat top grill sizzle with our selections. The whole place filled up with smells that made our mouth water. Before he was done he came back to where we were in the front grabbed some fresh lemons and retreated back to the grill again ( I was getting hopeful!)

Soon another man pulled up ( right onto the sidewalk! The sidewalks in this part of town are basically all used for parking, not walking lol).  The owner came out and greeted him like a long time friend. We found out from this man that this store owner had recently changed his "menu" and always has just a few limited options to choose from.  Apparently he basically makes what he likes from month to month and has a strong and loyal following. We lucked out to stumble upon him! Then, he brought out huge lasagna sized tin carry out dishes, $8 dollars each. What a deal! Mine turned out to be 4+ meals for me it was so big! ( I guess this is what they do with all that rice?!) 

The picture just can't do this place justice. It was absolutely scrumptious! We are definitely the newest addition to this chefs loyal following! 

Last night was another home run! Zach found a place on google maps nearby with good reviews so we went with it.  It is called MRA bakery, restaurant and sweets. ( the sweets part had me sold!) 
Looks wild outside but reviews don't lie! So we went inside. 

Past the desserts...
Up the stairs...

And were seated at a large booth. 
We had absolutely no idea what anything on the menu said so as we fumbled through the waiter brought this ...
Followed by 

No it is not alcohol! Lol it was actually some kind of delicious and refreshing fruit juice-maybe kiwi?

So after a bit Zach had decided on the beef curry and I still was unsure about everything. I asked the waiter for either fish or chicken that was not spicy and this is what he brought...

Punnamada Konju Ful

The picture SO does not to it justice. They were these huge jumbo shrimp on skewers covered with seasonings and presented on a giant Palm leaf. Delicious! ( and apparently this was just an appetizer for us to split). 

Chicken Mughlai.

People, this may not look like much but OMG IT WAS THE BEST THING I THINK I MAY HAVE EVER EATEN!!!!! It was garlicky and creamy with huge lumps of chicken and omg I couldn't handle it. 

Then Zach's beef curry turned out to be Beef Roast instead but he still loved it! 

We had some naan to go with it all and were happy campers. 
Also -- the prices were ridiculous, neither of us finished our full bowl and each only cost about $6.50! What?!

Then walking out by the dessert counter you know I couldn't pass by without grabbing a little something sweet. :) 

I got a chocolate ganache 
Z got a cashew brownie 

Then they gave us each a sticky rice Krispy treatish dessert ball thing on the way out. 


Well that's all for now! 

Sabah al noor - may your morning be bright! 


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