Winter in Qatar is fabulous. There is so much to look forward to during this time of year. The weather is perfect for outdoor activities—hitting the beaches and parks, exploring nature, camping, barbeques, and meandering on the outdoor art and culture trails. It is also a festive time with Qatar National Day, the holidays, plus this year’s bonus: the FIFA World Cup. What better time to gather the clan to celebrate and indulge in culinary delights? After all, festivities beget feasts.
Fortunately, this season serves up a variety of delicious berries, seasonal fruits and vegetables, and warming herbs and spices that hit our sweet and savoury spots. Whipping up a feast doesn’t have to be time-consuming or stressful, and the recipes below prove that. These dishes are delectable, pleasing to the eye, and ready in minutes.
This hearty, warming soup is just the ticket on a cold winter’s day. The soup is chock-full of veggies, some chicken, and a hint of spice to tickle the tastebuds and warm the soul. It is a crowd-pleaser that can be served as a simple supper or a course in a multi-course meal.
- 800–900g pumpkin
- 1 inch stick of cinnamon
- 4–5 cloves
- 3 green cardamoms
- 8–10 peppercorns (less for less spice)
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tsp turmeric powder
- 2 tbsp olive oil (or as required)
- 1 large red onion
- 2 medium tomatoes
- 2 medium carrots
- 3 medium potatoes
- 350–400g peas
- 450g chicken legs or thighs, bone-in
- 2 inch ginger
- 6-8 cloves of garlic
- 1 ½ tsp salt (or to taste)
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
- Water to cover ingredients
- Remove skin of pumpkin. Cut pumpkin into half and scoop out seeds with a spoon. Cut pumpkin into 1-inch cubes and set aside.
- Chop onion and tomatoes separately into cubes and set aside.
- Peel potatoes and chop into chunks or cubes and set aside.
- Chop carrots into chunky rings and set aside.
- In a pressure cooker, heat olive oil. Once oil is hot, add peppercorns.
- When peppercorns start to splutter, add whole spices (cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and bay leaf) and saute until aromatic.
- Add chopped onions and saute until pink.
- Slice ginger into thin slices, lightly crush garlic and remove garlic peels. Add ginger and garlic to onion and spice mixture and saute for a couple of minutes.
- Add tomatoes and saute for approximately five minutes.
- Add turmeric powder and 1 ½ tsp salt and mix well.
- Add remaining vegetables and chicken.
- Add enough water to cover ingredients. Water level should be one inch above ingredients, around 1–1 ½ cups water.
- Check salt level and add freshly ground pepper to taste.
- Cover cooker and cook on high until first whistle, then on simmer for another 15 minutes.
- Turn off stove. Remove the chicken pieces and shred the chicken once possible.
- Remove 1/3 of soup and use a stick blender, hand-masher, or regular blender, to blend to a fine puree. Return puree to soup.
- Return shredded chicken to soup and discard bones.
- Adjust salt levels.
- Chop a bunch of cilantro and add to garnish. Serve hot.
1. To make this recipe even more fuss-free, use boneless chicken instead of bone-in chicken. If you do that, add a cup of chicken stock to add a depth of flavour. You can then top up the remaining amount with water.
- Reduce peppercorns for less spice or add more for more heat.
- If your pumpkin is a more savoury one, add sweetness if desired by adding a pinch of sugar. Similarly, if you find the soup a tad sweet, add a dash of vinegar. If adding vinegar, heat the soup for a few more minutes to allow the vinegar to mix well.
- The preferred oil for this recipe is olive oil, but you can use any vegetable oil of your choice.
- Freshly ground pepper tastes great, but if you don’t have a pepper mill or mortar and pestle, you can use ordinary pepper powder.
Oven-roasted Lamb Chops and Vegetables
This recipe lends itself well to a party barbeque or just a main meal at home. The vegetables bring out the flavours of the lamb and vice versa.
- 900g lamb rib chops
- 2 tbsp dried oregano
- 2 tbsp dried basil
- 2 tbsp dried parsley
- 2 tbsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp dried thyme
- Olive oil
- Wash lamb chops thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels.
- Mix all seasoning except salt and pepper in a bowl. Marinate lamb chops with seasoning.
- Sprinkle salt over chops and season with freshly ground pepper.
- Grease a roasting tray and arrange lamb chops in it. If you have a rack, put some vegetables (below) in tray and place lamb on rack above tray. Drizzle chops with olive oil.
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees for 10 minutes. Bake chops for around 30 minutes at same temperature, turning chops and basting them with oil at halfway mark. Check for doneness by piercing with a fork or testing with a cooking thermometer. If using a thermometer, insert into centre of lamb. It should read at least 140 degrees for medium-well lamb.
- Turn off oven (unless simultaneously cooking vegetables), remove lamb, and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Serve hot with roasted vegetables.
- 450g pumpkin
- 400g potatoes
- 1 tbsp oregano
- Freshly ground pepper
- Olive oil
- Peel and deseed pumpkin and chop into 1-inch sized chunks.
- Sprinkle oregano on pumpkin and season with salt and pepper.
- Peel and chop potatoes into medium chunks. Season with salt and pepper.
- Grease a roasting tray and arrange vegetables in it. Drizzle with olive oil.
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees for 10 minutes. Bake at same temperature for 40 minutes. Check if cooked through by piercing with a fork.
- Once cooked, turn off oven. Serve hot.
- This recipe can also be used when barbequing.
- You can always substitute the vegetables with those of your choice. Recommended vegetables include capsicum (bell peppers), onions, and cauliflower. However, these are only seasoned with salt and pepper.
- Choose rib chops for a better look. To amp up the lux factor, ask for frenched ribs or trim off the fat yourself.
Nankatais (Indian Tea Biscuits)
Nankatais, or Indian tea biscuits, are eaten as a snack or served as a dessert during festivals. They are easy to make, and you can make them in small or large quantities.
- 1 cup refined flour
- 1/8 cup cornflour
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/3 cup clarified butter
- 1/8 spoon baking powder
- Pinch of freshly ground cardamom
- Pinch of salt
- Sift flour and sugar into a mixing bowl.
- Add cardamom powder and salt, mix thoroughly.
- Add clarified butter and knead into a soft dough. Clarified butter should be at room temperature. Allow dough to rest for 10-15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 150 degrees for 10 minutes. Grease a baking tray. Roll dough into small, even-sized balls and press each until about an inch thick. Place on tray and keep 1/2 inch distance between them.
- Bake for 7–10 minutes or until done. Once done, turn off oven, remove tray, and allow cookies to cool. Serve cool or store away in an airtight container.