Well, the title is slightly misleading but this feast I was invited to in the desert in Doha last week was very close to Christmas and just as festive even if a lot more exotic than a Christmas meal. I had been to the same farm before but at a hotter time of the year and not for a full meal. This time the weather was just fabulous and the meal totally amazing.
The massive centre piece dish was a whole lamb served on a bed of fragrant rice that was garnished with slivers of liver (one of the choice parts together with the head which was tucked under the lamb), hard-boiled eggs, lemon halves and slices of green pepper. My host laughed when I asked for some of the fat-tail which was hot, soft and melting and totally delectable in the same bite with a little rice and meat from the filet which my host had served me. Qatari hospitality is wonderful and as your host’s honoured guest, you are always served the choice bits.
We also had h’riss, a wheat and meat porridge that is a classic throughout the gulf region, and prepared everyday during Ramadan. You also find h’riss elsewhere in the middle east with slight variations and different names depending on where you are.
Tharid is another classic Gulf dish and equally essential during Ramadan. It was the Prophet Muhammad’s favourite dish and is made with layers of regag soaked with the stock from salona (Arabian stew flavoured with spices and dried limes) and topped with meat and vegetables that are cooked in the stock. Here again my host was supremely generous and gave me the neck with my helping of tharid which I have to say was one of the best I’d had.
After we finished eating, we moved to the open air seating by the fire where we were served tea and coffee (Arabian coffee is my absolute favourite, made with lightly roasted beans and flavoured with cardamom and saffron). A marvellous evening spent in the most lovely company. Can’t wait to go back!
Tagged : arabian coffee, arabian stew, christmas in the desert, doha, dried limes, fat tail lamb, h'riss, Prophet Muhammad's favourite dish, qatri hospitality, Ramadan, ramadan dishes, regag, salona, tharid, whole lamb 3