Country #3 – Qatar


Sunday 21st February 2016, 3.11pm

Looks like it’s third time lucky – I’ve finally picked a country I’ve heard of before!  This time round it’s Qatar and it’s basically right around the corner from Oman.

003 - Country.JPG

I know Qatar is in the Middle East and is known for its oil and its airline…….and that’s about it.  It’s been in the news in recent years because it’s been chosen to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.  What I didn’t know is that alcohol consumption is partially legal in Qatar.  Whilst Muslims caught consuming alcohol are liable to deportation or flogging, some luxury hotels are allowed to sell alcohol to their non-Muslim customers.  There is only one distribution company in the country that is permitted to import alcohol and pork.  It also operates the only liquor store in the country.

Interestingly, Qatar not only has some of the highest consumers of water per capita per day (using around 400 litres), but also has had the highest per-capita carbon dioxide emissions in the world for two decades.

Having just finished an Omani dish, I’m a little reluctant to try another lamb/chicken and rice type dish so soon but, after a bit of investigating, I’ve found a breakfast dish involving omelette & vermicelli which intrigues me.


Monday 22nd February 2016, 11.28am

Challenge Log:

#3           Date selected:    21/2/16 Date completed:  22/2/16

Country selected:  Qatar

Dining Selection:


What was on the menu:

  • Balaleet

Restaurant/Recipe address:

So in addition to completing my third challenge, I’m also working on this blog thing.  I think I might have been incorrect in putting things under pages rather than posts.  If you’re interested in reading my first two challenges, they’re in the links at the top of the page!

Since Qatar is so close to Oman (my previous challenge) I decided on a breakfast dish this time round.  I was drawn to the Balaleet recipe that I mentioned yesterday so decided to try it for breakfast today.

There were a few variations online but I settled on this one as it was the only one that was specifically listed it as being Qatari.  The others seemed to be more focused towards the United Arab Emirates.

The dish seemed pretty simple (which is what you want in a breakfast!), but it turned out to be a bit more tricky than I was expecting.  The dish is basically a sweet vermicelli base, topped with a fluffy egg omelette.  I was intrigued to see how the two would balance each other out.

The first thing I should point out is if you’re on a low-sugar diet, this dish is definitely NOT for you!  2 tablespoons of sugar goes into what is a fairly regular-sized meal.  I think the recommended daily intake of sugar is supposed to be around 8 teaspoons so this pretty much uses all of that in your first meal of the day.

I’ve never been particularly good at making omelettes so I was worried that this might be the element of the dish that would trip me up.  As it turns out, my omelettes were damn near perfect!  Unfortunately the vermicelli was a little more difficult to master…..

Apparently the vermicelli should be crispy, though, despite a couple of attempts, my noodles were more chewy than they were crispy.  I’m not sure of the reason for this.  I thought I might have issues with the first attempt as I boiled the vermicelli a little longer than I would have liked and don’t think I had quite enough to absorb all the liquid.  The sugar caramelised like it should but the noodles just didn’t crisp up.

003 - First attempt
My first attempt. Whilst the vermicelli was tasty, it didn’t crisp up like it should have.

I decided to try again.

For my second attempt, I only quickly boiled the vermicelli, drained it well, made the strands longer, and put a little more into the mix.  It kept its form after I put the sugar and spices into it.  I cooked it to the point where the sugar was just about to burn but the end result was more a hard texture rather than a crispy one.  It did look more like the ‘cake’ that the recipe called for however so, I’m going to give this one a passing grade (even though that grade is only JUST a pass – let’s call it a C!).

003 - 2nd attempt
My second attempt. As you can see from the picture, I cooked it so long that the sugar was just beginning to burn. The noodles are a lot more formed however.

Some notes on taste…the vermicelli is very sweet.  It does go beautifully with the egg but don’t forget to put the salt in.  I forgot it on the first attempt but added it for the second and it helps cut through the sweetness.  A couple of the other recipes online used rosewater and I think that might have helped quite a lot too.  A bit of lemon might also be nice.  It would be worth experimenting to see what works for you.  Perhaps I may even try one of the other recipes when I pick United Arab Emirates.

But for now, it’s time to tick Qatar off my list and pick another country….



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