Advertisements on London taxis announce in Arabic the upcoming eatery at The Harrods.
DOHA: Billboards in Arabic announcing the opening of an eatery at London’s world-renowned department stores, The Harrods, are a curious sight in London these days.
Well, those who know Arabic look at the billboards not just out of curiosity but with great excitement and expectation.
The excitement takes the form of ecstasy, especially in the case of the large number of citizens of Qatar and other GCC countries who are based in the metropolis.
The billboards announce the opening of an eatery at The Harrods that would offer ‘Karak and Chapati’. Actually, the upcoming outlet has been named ‘Karak and Chapati’.
‘Karak’ is the Qatari and GCC version of a concoction of tea and milk boiled with ginger and cardamom that has been in vogue mostly in some parts of north India, especially Uttar Pradesh.
‘Chapati’ is the traditional north Indian hand-ground and baked round wheat bread.
In Qatar and the rest of the GCC, ‘Karak’ which is a Hindi-Urdu (Hindustani) word meaning strong, takes a little changed form as they mix saffron with the other Indian ingredients.
‘Chapati’ can be either crisp or soft in the north of India, where it is the staple food, but in Qatar and the GCC, it is mostly crisp.
Since tea consumption became widespread in India, many people in the north who were quite used to having milk and ‘Chapati’ began mixing tea with the boiled and sweetened milk.
From the north the trend spread to some other parts of India as well. ‘Karak and chapati’ were introduced in Qatar and the rest of the GCC through their close contact with the Indians.
Community elders say ‘Karak and Chapati’ were known in Qatar even before the discovery of oil through their contact with Indians during the pearling days.
However, as hordes of Indians came over to Qatar and the rest of the GCC region and opened up eateries, ‘Karak’ and ‘Chapati’ became more popular among the locals.
They are liked so much by the Qataris that when the Katara Cultural Village was opened, an eatery offering just ‘Karak’ and ‘Chapati’ was set up there.
It is a favourite spot for many Qataris and nationals from other GCC states and Arab countries.
The billboards on the London taxis announce in Arabic “From Katara to Knightsbridge”, talking of the upcoming eatery at The Harrods. Katara in the billboard refers to Qatar while the Knightsbridge is where The Harrods is located.
As a commentator said in remarks to this newspaper, “After Qatar bought over The Harrods, change is in the air at the western department store. It is tasting the Arab and Oriental culture”. The Peninsula