Story and pictures by Angel Polacco
For anyone new to Qatar, Karak is a popular drink that can be consumed at anytime of the day. Considered to be Qatar's national drink, it has Indian and Pakistani origins, also known as “Kadak Chai,”which means strong tea in English. The most popular way to order Karak is to stop your car at a cafeteria, honk, and wait for a carhop. Here’s ILQ’s ranking of the best Karak spots to hit up when you feel like you need to satisfy your fix.
1. Al Naimi Cafeteria
Karak at Al Naimi is just right. Not too sweet, not too milky, a perfect blend and balance of flavors. There are many different branches all across Doha. The most popular branch is located next to Landmark Mall. If you’re planning a trip to the desert or having a gathering with friends you can always take a large empty flask and get it filled for about QR15 to QR20 depending on the size of your flask. Of course, their small and medium sized Karak is their most popular item their small size selling for one riyal and their medium for two riyals.
2. Tea Time
Popular hot spot for Karak in Qatar. Based on taste alone, their Karak is good, but can sometimes be too sweet. Tea Time is also known for other items on their menu, such as their popcorn chicken, lotus cheesecake, chocolate soufflé, and mahalabia. Like Al Naimi, there are many different branches around Doha and are almost always busy or crowded with cars. Tea Time also fills up flasks with Karak and cost around the same as Al Naimi. Their one and two riyal Karak are also their best sellers.
photo by @rubashaath94
3. Al Bandar at the Corniche
At Al Bandar you can both get Karak and enjoy the view of Doha’s skyline at the same time. Located across Souq Waqif on the Corniche, it has a strategic view of the skyline. One can sit outside or in their cars and chill out after purchasing a hot cup of Karak. Al Bandar also has different items on its menu but is renowned for its Karak, which tastes quite good but can also be sweet. Al Bandar is quite an old establishment and has many loyal customers. Priced similarly to Al Naimi and Tea Time, Al Bandar is definitely worth the visit and the view.
4. Chapati and Karak
Located at Katara Cultural Village, the Karak from Chapati and Karak is rich in taste and spices. This particular enterprise is also quite popular, mainly because of its location, but good taste, cheap prices, and carhop services also play a role. Chapati and Karak also has a branch in London, offering a taste of Doha abroad. The downside is the traffic getting to this location, as one would have to endure Katara traffic just to get a cup of Karak.
5. Baba Chapatea
Baba Chapatea was recommended to me at the Qatar International Food Festival. Its main location is in Al Wakrah, which is out of Doha, but a must try if one is in that area. The Karak I had at the QIFF was delicious. It tasted like your standard Karak, but with a unique twist of something that tasted a lot like honey (I could be wrong). Baba Chapatea is also known for its parathas, and of course offers a variety of other items on its menu.
So what's your favorite Karak spot in Qatar?
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