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Posted On: 29 July 2020 01:00 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 10:30 am

Qatar Home Cook Series COVID-19 special- Archana Poonacha and Mahdiya Farook

Kim Wyatt
Kim Wyatt
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Qatar has an incredible array of home cooks from all sides of the globe. Check out this Mediterranean inspired recipe by Archana Poonacha plus a Sri Lankan family favourite from Mahdiya Farook.

Our cooking series features Qatar’s diverse and talented home chefs with a passion for food. If you’d like to be featured in our series please share your food photo on Instagram and tag @ilqlive @mama_baba_ganoush plus the hashtag #qatarhomecooks

Name - Archana Poonacha

Country - India

Occupation – Entrepreneur

Has Covid19 changed the way you cook at home? During quarantine, I have had ample time to gain a better perspective on things I love to do. I have always been passionate about food but I never took a step to elevate my passion. I have started a page to share my love of flavours and food. I hope to spread love in a small way with everyone.

What is your dish? Mediterranean baked sweet potatoes - stuffed with two delicious fillings and packed full of Mediterranean flavours!

Why did you choose this dish? I hail from Coorg - the Scotland of India. With lush forests and plantations, I come from a family of coffee planters. My parents come from humble beginnings and we grew our own vegetation – it’s an integral part of our culture. I love experimenting and curating various dishes with a sole intention to elevate the flavour. The joy of understanding flavours and textures of ingredients is a beauty in itself. Every plate has a story to tell and here is mine - steamed sweet potatoes remind me of home. My partner hails from the Mediterranean so I have added the flavours of the Middle East to give you the best of both worlds! This recipe is humble, simple and full of elements that will excite your taste buds.

Social media: Instagram @archanapoonacha @_forks_over_knives_

Archana’s Mediterranean Baked Sweet Potatoes


1 large size sweet potato – washed and cut in half with skin on

2 tbsp olive oil

200g minced beef

50g cooked red kidney beans

50g sweet corn

400g cooked chickpeas

1 onion– finely chopped

4 tbsp lemon juice (plus more if needed)

1 bunch coriander leaves

2 tsp beetroot paste

3 tbsp tomato paste

1 tbsp cream cheese

3 tbsp tahini



Cayenne pepper

Chilli flakes

Spice mix powder

Garlic powder

Dried rosemary

Dried oregano

Dried thyme


  1. Preheat oven to 250°C. Slice the sweet potato in two and place on a baking tray.
  2. Drizzle 1 tbsp olive oil over sweet potato. Season with pepper, salt, oregano, thyme, rosemary and garlic powder. Place into the oven. Bake until cooked – approx. 15 to 20 mins (Insert a knife or fork into the sweet potato – if it removes easily, the sweet potato will be fully cooked).
  3. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Reduce the oven heat to 180C. Scoop out the sweet potato flesh and add to a large bowl. Mash well and return to the sweet potato skin jackets onto the baking tray. Heat for approx. 10 mins.


  1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan. Sauté the finely chopped onions until soft. Season with salt, pepper and spice mix.
  2. Add the minced beef and mix well. Add the tomato paste and cook for 20 mins until semi-dry. Add 1 tbsp of lemon juice, 1 tbsp tahini and half of the mashed sweet potato to the beef mixture. Set aside.


  1. In a large bowl, mix the red beans, 200g of chickpeas, sweet corn, coriander and the other half of the mashed sweet potato. Sprinkle a pinch of salt, ground pepper, oregano, thyme and rosemary. Add 1 tbsp of lemon juice and mix well. Set aside.
  2. In a blender, add 200g chickpeas and blitz until smooth. Add two tablespoons of lemon juice plus salt and pepper to taste. Add beetroot paste and tahini to the mixture. Mix well. Your thick pink beetroot hummus is ready!
  3. Fill in the crispy charred sweet potato jackets separately with both fillings. Lay on a bed of the creamy pink hummus and dig in!

Name - Mahdiya Farook

Country -Sri Lanka

Occupation - Head of Programs and Communications

Social media - Instagram: @mahdiya_farook, Facebook @mahdiyafarook

Click here for the Youtube link to the recipe:

Has Covid19 changed the way you cook at home? Yes. Prior to Covid19, I cooked during the weekends

or ordered home food delivery. Due to my heavy workload and being a busy mum, I did not have time to prepare gourmet meals. The pandemic has brought out the creative side in me. Now I have started experimenting with different cuisines and become a conscious chef - I have ensured my family eat a balanced diet to build up their immune system

What is the name of your dish? Pineapple fried rice with seafood.

Why have you chosen this recipe? I was born in Sri Lanka and rice is a food staple. At 17 years old I lived in Hong Kong so Cantonese cuisine is part of my life. This recipe is a twist to my favourite Cantonese dish with added spices to compliment the spice girl in me. This is a projection of my personality – it is colourful, spicy, and sweet.

Madhiya’s Fried rice with seafood


2 cups cooked basmati rice - cooled

250g chicken

1kg prawns

1 large onion

½ pineapple

100g cashews

25g raisins

8 garlic cloves

1 red bell pepper

1 green bell pepper

2 eggs

Chicken seasoning mix

½ tsp sugar

1 tsp black pepper

1. 5 tsp oyster sauce

3 tsp soy sauce

Salt to taste


  1. Marinate the chicken for 15-20 mins in the seasoning mix
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the cashew and raisins. Fry until golden brown. Remove from the pan.
  3. Add the onions and fry until golden brown. Remove from the pan
  4. Add the marinated chicken and cook well. Remove from the pan.
  5. Add prawns and fry until pink. Add the garlic. Move the prawns to one side of the pan and add the eggs and scramble it.
  6. Add soy sauce, oyster sauce cooked rice and mix well.
  7. Add cooked chicken, capsicum, green pepper, pepper powder, pineapple, fried onions, cashew, raisins and sugar. Heat through.
  8. Season with salt if desired. Serve.

What have you been cooking at home? Let us know in the comments section below!