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Posted On: 5 August 2020 01:49 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 10:30 am

Qatar Home Cook Series COVID-19 special- Sumaya Rahman and Islem Mechani

Kim Wyatt
Kim Wyatt
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Every week, we’re featuring two home cooks with a love for creating, experimenting and whipping up delicious meals! Today, meet Sumaya Rahman who has discovered a new confidence in the kitchen and Islem Mechani with a classic regional recipe from her parent’s homeland – Tunisia.

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: Sumaya Rahman

Country: Bangladesh

Social media: Instagram @vegetable_confit

How long have you lived in Qatar? My mother moved to Qatar with me when I was 4 months old

Occupation: Former Genetic Laboratory Technologist

Has Covid19 changed the way you cook at home? Yes. Now I have the courage to create my own recipes and to be frank, it was born out of necessity. I have to stretch my groceries across three weeks. This means I can only work with the ingredients that I have on hand. While everyone on social media was baking bread at the beginning of the pandemic, I could not try out those recipes because I had no yeast at home. Trying out recipes used to be a hobby of sorts and pre-Covid19 I would try out a whole bunch of recipes every week. Even though I miss that, I am also enjoying my evolution in the kitchen. If my family or I crave something, I try to recreate the taste and texture with whatever ingredients I have available. Often, I end up using plenty of substitutes. Rather than looking up recipes, I spend more time researching the function of different ingredients.

What is your dish? Lotus Mehalabiya - a Middle Eastern milk pudding with my added twist of Lotus Biscoff butter.

Why have you chosen this dish? The first time I tried something similar was from Tea Time and I wanted to recreate it at home. I am pretty certain most of us have been missing our Karak and Karak sides from tea shops.

Sumaya's Lotus Mehalabiya
Sumaya's Lotus Mehalabiya

Sumaya's Lotus Mehalabiya

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Setting time: 6+ hours


5 cups whole milk

2 cups heavy whipping cream

2 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar

6 tbsp cornstarch

1 cup Lotus Biscoff butter

10 Lotus Biscoff biscuits - crushed

A pinch of salt

For the topping:

1/2 cup Lotus Biscoff butter


  1. Place crushed Lotus Biscoff biscuits into 7 medium serving bowls or one large dessert bowl.
  2. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the milk, heavy whipping cream, sugar, Lotus Biscoff butter and cornstarch until well combined and there are no visible lumps of cornstarch.
  3. Heat the mixture over medium-high heat and whisk constantly for a few seconds until the mixture thickens to a pudding-like texture and large bubbles form around the surface.
  4. Pour into cups and allow to cool. Refrigerate uncovered until the surface has begun to set; about an hour.
  5. Heat the remaining Lotus Biscoff butter for 30 seconds in the microwave and spread on top of the Mehalabiya in each cup
  6. Refrigerate for a minimum of 6 hours or overnight.
  7. Garnish with crushed Lotus Biscoff and serve chilled.

Name: Islem Mechani

Country: The Netherlands

Social media: Instagram @slaymamech

How long have you lived in Qatar? Since 2016 with my husband and two-year-old son

Occupation: Former Dietitian. Stay at home mum currently studying personal training

Has Covid19 changed the way you cook at home? Because of Covid19, I’m stuck in The Netherlands. I came here in February for a family visit. I cook a lot with my mum especially this recipe. It’s such a nice and flavourful dish. My mum makes it really well.

What is your dish? Tunisian couscous with fish (known as Marka Sfaxia). My parents are from Tunisia and this dish originated in their hometown located in the city of Sfax.

Islem's Tunisian Couscous with fish

Preparation time: 45 min

Cooking time: 90 minutes


1 large, whole fish of Dorade or Hammour (head removed – to be used for the stock).


1 tablespoon salt

2 teaspoons cumin

3 cloves of garlic - minced

3 tbsp of virgin olive oil


Virgin olive oil (enough to cover the bottom of the pot)

1 chopped onion

8 green peppers

2 chopped tomatoes

100 gms of tomato paste

5 cloves of garlic - minced

½ tbsp cumin

½ tbsp salt

Black pepper (to taste)

2-3 litres water


700 gms of couscous

2 tbsp olive oil

Pinch of salt and pepper

Splash of water


  1. Add the marinade of salt, cumin, garlic and olive oil to the fish. (This can be prepared the night before and store in the fridge).
  2. On medium heat, add olive oil to a large pot. Add the chopped onion and fry until soft. Then add the peppers and chopped tomatoes. Fry until soft.
  3. Add the tomato puree and stir well. Add the garlic, cumin and salt. Add 1 cup of water. Stir well. Take the peppers out with some of the sauce and set aside.
  4. To the remainder of the sauce, add the water to create a broth. Add the Hammour head into the pot and allow to simmer on low heat. The moment it starts to simmer - add some black pepper. Boil for about 20 min until the fish is well cooked. Taste and add salt if needed.
  5. Put a Couscousiere (Tunisian couscous cooker) onto the stove. To a large bowl add the uncooked couscous. Add salt, pepper olive oil and splash of water. Mix well. Put the couscous into the Couscousiere and allow to steam for about 45 minutes.
  6. After steaming the couscous, return to the bowl and add the broth. Cover and wait until the couscous fully soaks up the broth.
  7. Grill the Dorade (or Hammour) until cooked.
  8. Serve the couscous with the Dorade with the tomato pepper sauce on the side. U can eat the sauce with bread or add it to the couscous.

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