It’s National Day this month (December 18), so you may fancy a taste (literally) of the local culture – something that can prove rather tricky in a multi-cultural country like Qatar. But if Qatar has a national beverage, it has to be karak, a sweet tea similar to that of India and Pakistan, with its own unique Qatari twist. The drink is so popular there’s even a Facebook fan page dedicated to it – there were over 10,000 likes, last time we checked (a lot of love for a hot beverage). So, want to try brewing some yourself? Here’s a simple recipe for making karak at home.
• Boiling water
• 1-2 tb sugar, or 3-6 sugar cubes, to taste (but remember it’s meant to be sweet)
• Condensed milk to taste (some specify it has to be Rainbow Condensed Milk)
• Tea bags (after a peek in some karak kitchens it seems the preferred brand is Lipton’s Yellow Label)
• Place the teabag and the sugar in a cup and add the boiling water, allowing it to steep
• Add the milk until a dark colour, and enjoy!
Optional: Some purists say it’s not real karak without spices, so try a dash of cardamom, ginger, cinnamon or saffron. Or just get a can of cardamom-flavoured Rainbow Condensed Milk; rumour has it that it’s produced specifically for karak.
Where to get a cuppa
Too lazy to make karak yourself? Worry not – part of the fun of drinking this Qatari tea is getting out, mingling and lingering over a steaming cup on a Doha night. Here are two of the city’s top tea spots where you can get a cup and take in the view
Al Naimi Cafeteria
Location: Al Saad street
Lines of cars queue up just to get a sample of Naimi’s version of the sweet beverage. Some say it’s the best in town (but you’ll have to be the judge of that).
Chapati and Karak
This karak stand, located near the mosque in Katara, is always bustling and busy. While many karak fans order from their cars, we suggest you get out from behind the wheel, stretch your legs, take a table, order a karak (and maybe even a chapati), and let the people-watching commence.
What do you eat?
Have your say! Is there a dish or drink that better symbolises the taste of Qatar? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know!