I was looking forward to Friday morning all week, and it did not disappoint! Bright and early, I met my friends Patrick and Annie for our excursion to the wholesale market area of Doha. We were specifically headed to the veggie and fruit souks. I am slightly irritated with myself in that while I had every intention of taking photos at the markets, I totally forgot to! I was just too distracted by the pretty colors I guess. It was like a trip to a candy store!
We started our day at a couple of plant markets. I was looking for pots and Patrick, for rocks. The pots were easy to find, but the rocks were less so. In fact, even after an English to Arabic translation of rocks (الصخور) on my trusty Samsung, we only came across big ones and decided we would just scavenge some from this land of rock and sand at a later date. I found my pots, and in-between some of the thousands of plants came across this cute guy napping. You can see where my priorities are in terms of photography!
The plant souk is a great place to find pretty much any gardening material, and the plants are much cheaper than those in the supermarkets. I saw a lot of house and landscaping plants and few edibles, but that could be due to the time of year. Since I am creating an indoor herb garden, I didn’t buy any plants yesterday, but I will head back there at another time to have a better look around.
After the plant souk, we headed to the drive-through souk, which as you guessed does not necessarily require that you exit your car. We bought a couple of watermelons (2.50 QR per kilo), so we got out to choose them. This souk was a mishmash of dates, honey, fruit, veg, plants and various household items. It can best be described as including a bit of everything for the ultimate in lazy shopping, the drive-through supermarket of souks.
Next up, we parked the car, grabbed our reusable shopping bags and headed into the very busy market area. I scurried through after Patrick, who is seasoned in souk shopping in Doha, and marveled just how many people were up shopping on a Friday morning. The area where I live, in contrast, is deserted on Friday mornings. The vendors were very persistent, as were the men whose job it is to carry your purchases in wheel barrows. I was a bit confused as to how they wanted to help, as I had bought nothing at that point and later, when my bag was overflowing, they were out of sight.
We went to a vendor that Patrick frequents, and there I found the freshest looking lettuce I’ve seen yet in Doha and at 5 QR per kilo! If you recall, I paid close to 20 QR per kilo at Carrefour last week! I also got some spring onions for 2 QR a bunch, and when I asked how much for some ginger root, I was told it was a gift–score! Annie and I left Patrick at this point to head to the fruit stands. She was after sweet, blood oranges, and I wanted some figs. I love figs, and they’re in season right now. I bought two trays of figs for 28 QR (after a wee bit of bargaining down from 30). I also got a very sweet melon, which we taste-tested, for 6 QR per kilo and some yummy mandarin oranges for 12 QR per kilo. After Annie and I paid for our fruit, we went to look for Patrick who was buying some grapes. I remembered I was nearly out of bananas and bought a kilo for 5 QR and some grapefruit at the same price (although I talked the vendor down 1 QR).
After the markets, we set out on a hunt for a new veggie joint in town, Just Falafel. I first tried Just Falafel at Taj Mall in Amman, Jordan, and when I heard it opened in Doha over Ramadan, I put it on my must visit list. Eventually, after much driving around and poor directions from the store itself, we found it. I tried the Indian, which was like a regular falafel sandwich but with a very spicy chutney in place of the tahini. It was delicious. I also gave the baked falafel a shot, but I wasn’t very impressed. I have baked falafel at home with success, but it takes some time in the oven to achieve the crunchy outside that falafel is known for. I guess this just isn’t really conducive to a fast food joint, so I’ll stick to the traditional fried version in the future. We also tried the jalapeno pepper favored hummus, which was the best I’ve had in Doha so far. When I got home, I added the restaurant and markets to my Google Map. Check it out:
After an afternoon nap, I woke up to prepare some food to take to a potluck 40th birthday party. I decided to make my own version of Mujaddara, a rice and lentil dish. Mujaddara is a really simple dish to make. I made a huge amount and it was gobbled up within minutes. Here’s a recipe for 2 to 4 (main or side dish).
- 1 cup of brown lentils (unsoaked)
- 1 cup basmati rice, rinsed
- 1 tablespoon allspice
- 1 veggie stock cube
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1 small carrot, diced
- 1 large onion, julienned
- 1 bell pepper, sliced into rounds
- 1 yellow zuchinni shredded
- 2 tablespoons oil (can be replaced with water)
- 2 1/2 cups water
Method: In a large saucepan, dissolve the stock cube in one cup of boiling water. Add the lentils, 1 T oil, and simmer for 15-20 minutes. While the lentils are cooking, saute the onions until transparent with slight browning; remove them from heat and put aside. Steam the zucchini and pepper until tender and remove from heat. Test a lentil or two; they should be al-dente before you proceed.
Next, add the all spice to the lentils (add additional cumin, coriander and red pepper flakes for a kick) and stir before adding the rice, carrots, peas and remaining water. Stir well and continue to simmer the mixture on low for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Keep an eye on the pan and add more water (1/4 c by 1/4 c) if it looks dry. When the rice is cooked, spoon the mixture onto a platter (or individual plates) and garnish evenly with the onions, zucchini and pepper. Enjoy!