Budget Indian eats in Doha

Shereen D’Souza goes back to her spicy roots and finds out how to fill up your belly without emptying your wallet Discuss this article

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There are an array of bargain Indian meals to be had around the city, and that can only be a good thing. A warm daal, freshly cooked rice and a spicy side dish are the best kind of comfort food on any day of the week. And this is why we at Time Out have swallowed chillies and guzzled questionable amounts of laban to bring you our shortlist of the best budget meals, 25 of them, around Doha. You can thank us later.

Alosra
Are you salivating at the thought of chilli beef with hakka noodles? Alosra has some of the best Indo-Chinese food around. Even if you want to go back to the basics such as daal, rest assured you’ll get more than your money’s worth here.
Open daily 10am-midnight. Musheireb (4431 1661).

Aryaas
Our favourite south Indian breakfasts are always served only in the mornings, or evenings. But Aryaa’s is extra special because you can walk in at lunch time and demand a Mysore masala dosa (which you absolutely should). The restaurant is pure vegetarian, so you’ll find all the classics.
Opening times vary at various locations (4443 9555).

Asiana
Asiana’s Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Thai and Arabic buffet (yes, all those cuisines) is the most popular. This super-saving spread costs just QR55 and even though you possibly get only one dish from the aforementioned cuisines, it’s filling enough and easy on the pocket. Available for lunch and dinner.
Open daily 9am-10pm. Al Hilal (4462 6600).

Baba Chapatea
Not a single weekend has passed where we haven’t eaten a Baba Chapatea cheese and oman chips paratha at 2am. And that’s just one of the dozens of delicious and really budget friendly rolls and wraps it serves. The kheema and egg with cheese parathas are possibly the most popular ones and they’re every bit as tasty. No points for guessing the karak is good here, too.
Open 24 hours at various locations, including Al Wakrah (4463 1765).

Bharath Vasanta Bhavan
Don’t be surprised when you get your food barely five minutes after you’ve ordered. Everything is made fresh, they are just so efficient and focused here that everything is a breeze. A couple of well-dressed waiters with Usain Bolt-like pace swiftly put plates on your table and everything that happens after that is an experience. The breakfast items such as masala dosa and idlis are great, as are the main course curries. The restaurant does special lunch meals for as low as QR14 and you get unlimited thalis as well. It’s cheap, it’s cheerful and it’s exactly what you need to do this weekend. An important word of advice – do not, we repeat do not, leave without having their filter coffee.
Open daily 7am-3pm, 6pm-11pm. Jaidah Flyover (4443 9955).

Bombay Chowpatty
This place is a chaat haven and can completely satisfy any street food craving you have at any time of the day. It’s open through the night and while 3am isn’t the most ideal time to want dahi puri, at least we know it’s an option. The street food menu is pretty comprehensive and we’re more than satisfied. Try the Bombay pav bhaaji and radga patties (these will really take you to the crowded streets of Mumbai serving piping hot potato cutlets drowning in gravy).
Open daily 24 hours. Old Airport Road (4462 2100).

Dakshin
The south Indian and Chettinad cuisine served at Dakshin is as delicious as it is affordable. It’ll probably be a while before you can pronounce any of the dish names without sounding like you’re babbling random words, but luckily, there are English descriptions. Try the Mangalorean chicken ghee roast (not for breakfast, though) if you are looking for something really authentic and local.
Open daily 7am-11pm. Barwa Village (4488 2257).

Gokul Gujarati
Everybody knows the friendly uncle here who just won’t stop putting chappatis on your plate. And if you don’t, this is a place you cannot miss checking out. The food is proper home-style, served in thalis, with unlimited top-ups. There’s no menu here, they make different dishes every day and just serve you everything. More than the food, it’s the service that steals the show.
Open daily 7am to 3pm, 5pm to 11pm. Fereej Bin Mahmoud (4480 0373).

Indian Coffee House
There is never a time when this restaurant isn’t packed. You’ll really appreciate the interiors here, the menus are on newspapers and the restaurant itself has some quirky and interesting elements of Indian décor. This makes eating here a really good deal, especially considering their prices. They have a lunch buffet here for QR30 and the rest of the day it’s à la carte. They whip up some excellent south Indian seafood options, so make sure to check what’s special on their daily menu. Also, because we’re nice like that, we’re telling you about their free glass of lassi for everyone.
Open Sun-Thu 11am-1am, Fri-Sat 6.30am-1am. Doha Jadeeda (4444 0902).

Jaal Hyderabadi
The key to enjoying this place is to take it at face value. When they said budget food, they meant it. So don’t be surprised with how dingy the place looks, or how basic their packaging is. Just appreciate that you have to pay almost nothing for a really tasty biryani and a very generous portion of it. The hyderabadi gravies should go on your must-try list, too.
Open daily 5am-2am. Musheireb (4441 0824).

Maharaja Darbar
Located far off, near the Industrial Area, is an unexpected eatery that serves some of the best budget food in town. A meal can cost you as little as QR10 and we are witnesses to this place serving the best chhole bhature in town. And crispy honey potatoes.
Open daily 11.30am to 3pm, 6pm to 11pm. Mesaimeer (4477 4121).

Maharashtra’s Pride
The owners clearly didn’t excel in the creative name department but at least we know they’re proud of their produce and that sort of gives us enough confidence to try this tiny restaurant near Jaidah Flyover. It specialises particularly in Maharashtrian cuisine, so expect a little spice and a lot of flavour. This place is super budget friendly and you can spend as little as QR25 for a filling meal, twice a day! Try the puranpoli, wada pav and any of their daily special curries. They have some reasonably priced Maharashtrian thalis as well. Just don’t get too adventurous with your choices and stick to that waiting staff’s assured recommendations.
Open daily noon to 2pm, 5pm to midnight. Musheireb (4411 7323).

Mazza
We’re just going to leave this right here. Try the butter chicken.
Open daily 11.30am-3.30pm to 2pm, 6pm to 11.30pm. Old Airport Road (4462 0077).

MRA
There is a very good reason MRA won our Budget Restaurant of the Year award: it serves the best, the tastiest and the cheapest food in town. We are not just talking about the delicious QR29 afternoon buffet, we are talking about almost every item on the menu being mouth-wateringly delicious. Rumour has it that even Indian food-haters have converted after eating here. And as random as this sounds, the red velvet cake here is extraordinary.
Open daily 6am-2am. Al Ghanim (4442 2072), Al Markhiya (4442 2074).

Neelima Restaurant
Dining in here isn’t the best idea. But ordering the QR5 chilli chicken paratha is one of the best decisions you’ll ever make. It’s spicy, delicious and the most affordable takeaway you’re going to come across. You’re going to have to be patient with the parking situation, so just know what you want to order before you get there. Neelima has a few good curries, but the chilli chicken paratha is the winner by a landslide.
Open Sat-Thu 5.30am-midnight, Fri 5.30am- 11.30am, 12.30pm to midnight. Fereej Bin Mahmoud (4427 3999).

Saravanaa Bhavan
A hot favourite among expats for the drool-worthy and affordable south Indian breakfasts, Saravana Bhavan has long been in everyone’s top five budget spots. The masala dosas here are loved by all, and for good reason, as are the idlis and uttappams. Try the ghee roast masala dosa, too. If this is all Greek to you, you’re clearly missing out on India’s most popular comfort foods.
Open daily 7am to 3pm, 5.30pm to 11pm. Al Ghanim (4443 7776).

Oriental Bakery
For some weird reason, they serve full-fledged Indian meals in a restaurant that’s called a bakery. Yes, we’re thinking the same. However, that confusion aside, they fry their dosas in ghee and when you taste the masala dosa here, it literally melts in your mouth. They also do cheap curries with breads, all priced under QR20, and of course, a lot of bakery items for you to choose from.
Open Sat-Thu 7am-11pm, Fri 7am-10am, 12.30pm-11pm. Near Modern Kitchens, Old Airport Road, Old Airport area (4465 2311).

Oyster Restaurant
This small restaurant in Bin Omran is far from fancy but their poori bhaaji (mashed potato with spices and deep fried bread) is one of our favourite breakfast options. It’s efficient and clean, and what more can you ask for in a budget-friendly restaurant? The chef specialises in cuisine from Kerala, so don’t be afraid to try a biryani, or two, if you come here in the afternoons.
Open daily noon to 2pm, 5pm to midnight. Bin Omran (4488 1777).

Roti & Boti
This is more fine dining, less bargain dinner. But a few dishes here make this place accessible to all those looking for excellent Indian on a budget. The wada pav is beautifully served, costs QR11 for two portions and is an absolute must-try dish.
Open daily 11am to midnight. Ras Abu Aboud (4477 4288).

Sangeet Hyderabadi

Hands down the best Hyderabadi biryani in Doha is right here. This restaurant is definitely an underrated gem. Besides the biryani, its curries are excellent as well and QR50 can easily buy you a really filling meal for two, with some leftovers even. The takeaway service is pretty efficient, too.
Open daily noon to 2pm, 5pm to midnight. Najma (4017 2867).

Star Kebab Tandoori
While you’re washing your car at the Woqod, walk over to Star Kebab for a quick bite. The thoughtful interiors and the excellent presentation will leave you pleasantly surprised, especially considering the prices. The potato tikki here is exactly the kind your mother would make at home and, needless to say, it’s delicious.
Open Sun-Wed 11.30am-midnight, Thu-Sat 11.30am-1am. Al Hilal (5549 1717).

The Garden Village
Some yummy south Indian seafood dishes, a chicken sukkha to write home about and delectable biryani options all feature in this budget diner. It’s clean and spacious, but nothing fancy. They deliver too, so budget Indian to your doorstep is just a call away.
Open Sat-Wed 11.30am to 11.30pm, Thu 11.30am-midnight, Fri noon-midnight. Bin Omran (4488 5115).

Zaffran Café
A hotspot for chaat lovers who have been around for a while. Zaffran Café does street food like no other, and they even serve fuller meals (such as the kheema pav, or bread with mince) that are excellent. We cannot recommend the sev dahi puri here enough. During Indian festivals, this is the place you should be hanging around, only because they make the best festival sweets and if you love dessert as much as we do, you’ll want to be the first to get your hands on them.
Open Sat-Thu 11.30am-10.30pm, Fri 8.30am-11am, 12.30pm-10.30pm. Al Muntazah (4411 0055).

7 St by Mumbai Spices
There’s something fun yet relaxing about the ambience here. It’s quirky, it’s contemporary and it’s definitely not your usual budget diner offering. Some of the best Mumbai-style street food can be found here from wada pav to kacchhi dabeli. There are some great kebabs and main courses to try as well. Prices are reasonable and this is a great place to take your family out to, without involving the bank manager.
Open Sat-Wed 8am-11pm, Thu-Fri 8am to midnight. Abu Hamour (4487 7795).

By Shereen D’Souza
Time Out Doha,

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