Sign in Register
Posted On: 11 June 2020 10:11 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 10:30 am

Qatar Home Cook Series COVID-19 special by Mama Baba Ganoush

Kim Wyatt
Kim Wyatt
Discuss here!
Start a discussion

Cooking has made a comeback! Throughout the world, COVID-19 has inspired many of us to get back into the heart of the home – the kitchen.

From home baking to bobotie, Qatar’s home cooks have shown their creativity and passion for whipping up lots of tasty meals. We’re a nation of food lovers with an amazing range of citizens from across the globe and we’re making the most of this time to experiment and whip up new recipes and family favourites.

So let’s take a peek into the kitchens of Qatar’s talented home cooks to see what’s cooking. First up in the series we have two home cooks- Ann Thomas and Gary Richardson who are whipping up a storm in their kitchen.

Name: Ann Thomas

Country: India

Occupation: Contract Training Co-ordinator

Has Covid19 changed the way you cook at home? It’s definitely led to more frequent experiments in the kitchen to add to our repertoire! In general, we stick to our comfort fare.

What’s your dish? Kappa and Meen Curry - mashed and seasoned tapioca flavoured with coconut and a spicy and tangy fish curry.

Why did you choose this dish? Where I come from, Kappa and Meen Curry is not just a dish; it is an emotion! It evokes a strong sense of home and belonging. This dish came from very humble beginnings; field workers would eat this dish for nourishment to garner enough strength to plough and work the fields. However, over time it has been elevated to a position of comfort food that nourishes the heart as much as it does the body. It is a familiar sight at restaurants, weddings et al! I have loved it all my life and it was amongst the first things I learned to cook for my then to-be husband. If the foundation of our marriage were based on food, it would be this dish! Hands down!

Ann Thomas's Kappa and Meen Curry recipe



1kg Tapioca (frozen works just fine)

8-10 shallots or one medium-sized red onion chopped Julienne

2 cloves of garlic

1/2 inch piece of ginger

½ cup of grated coconut

2-3 Green chillies

1/2 teaspoon of Turmeric powder

1/2 teaspoon of Cumin seeds

1 teaspoon of Mustard Seeds

5 Sprigs of Curry leaves and additional leaves for garnish

3-4 Tbsps. of Coconut oil

Salt to Taste


  1. Grind three shallots (and a fourth if desired) of the onion along with garlic, ginger, coconut, green chillies, turmeric powder and green chillies to form a smooth paste (you may need to add a few tablespoons of water).
  2. Boil and mash tapioca and add ground paste (while tapioca is still hot). Mix well and set aside.
  3. Heat coconut oil, mustard seeds, add the rest of the shallots or the onion (chopped Julienne) and curry leaves. Cook until well caramelized.
  4. Add to mashed tapioca, stir well and serve with meen curry.

Meen Curry


1kg Seer Fish (Kingfish) cut into 2-inch cubes

8-10 shallots or one medium-sized red onion finely julienned

15 cloves of garlic finely julienned

1-inch piece of ginger finely julienned

3-5 petals of kokum (tamarind)

4 tablespoons of Red Chili powder

1 teaspoon of turmeric powder

1/2 Tbsp of fenugreek seeds

1 Tbsp of mustard seeds

5 sprigs of curry leaves and additional leaves for garnish

5-7 tbsp of coconut oil

Salt to taste

Water from a recently boiled kettle


1. Bring fish to room temperature, wash thoroughly and set aside

2. Wash kokum petals and soak in enough water to cover the petals. This needs to soak for at least an hour

3. Dry roast the fenugreek seeds with half a tbsp of mustard and grind to a fine powder.

4. To this powder add chilli powder, turmeric and enough water to make a thick paste and set aside

5. Heat the pan or earthen pot and add coconut oil to it. When the oil is hot, add mustard seeds. When they splutter, add shallots, ginger, garlic and 2 sprigs of curry leaves.

6. When this begins to turn a light brown, add the masala paste and keep stirring until the oil separates (at this point you may add more oil if needed)

7. Add 5 cups of hot water, soaked kokum (along with the water) and remaining curry leaves.

8. Cover and bring to a boil. Then add the cubed fish and salt to taste.

9. Bring the heat down to a gentle simmer and cook covered for 10 minutes. Then uncover and reduce gravy until it reaches desired consistency (approximately 20 minutes)

10. Garnish with fresh curry leaves

Tastes even nicer the following day and makes an excellent accompaniment for rice as well!!

Name: Gary Richardson

Country: South Africa

Occupation: Professional Chef

Has Covid19 changed the way you cook at home? Yes, it has. Being at home has given me more time in the kitchen. Before Covid19 I spent 1- 2 hrs to get dinner ready, now its all day! I enjoy applying my work skills to home cooking and being able to make ingredients from scratch rather than store-bought. Covid19 has shifted the ingredients we use in our meals. We have always been conscious of nutritional value. During this time, we are using more ingredients with immune-boosting properties.

What’s your dish? Bobotie - South Africa's version of Moussaka. Bobotie is a savoury mince dish of fruity, aromatic and spicy flavours. The mince is slow-cooked with curry powder, raisins and apricot jam added for its fruity sweetness. The curried mince is then topped with a savoury egg custard and baked till the custard sets and is golden in colour. It is traditionally served with fragrant yellow rice and chutney.

Why did you choose this dish? I chose this dish because of my heritage growing up in Cape Town, South Africa. Also, this dish has a very rich, long history from many cultures. It’s easy to prepare and the perfect comfort food. The combination of mince and egg custard gives it a light texture packed full of flavour.

Chef Gary's Bobotie recipe


1 kg beef mince

1 medium-sized onion finely diced

2 tsp minced garlic

2 tsp finely grated ginger

1 stick cinnamon

1 medium-sized green apple, peeled and grated

2 tbsp apricot jam

2 tbsp brown sugar

1/8 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tin chopped peeled tomato

1 tbsp salt

½ tsp white pepper ground

1 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup milk

2 slices white bread (crust off)

Curry mix

2 tsp cumin seeds

1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds

1 1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

1/4 tsp ground cardamom

2 clove sticks

Savoury custard mix

5 whole eggs

½ cup milk

Pinch of turmeric


  1. In a spice grinder or pestle and mortar - blend all your spices together to make your curry mix.
  2. Heat the olive oil and add your mince and season with salt.
  3. On a high heat - cook the mince until brown. Remove from pan and set aside.
  4. Turn down to medium heat and add the onion with stick cinnamon. Sauté until translucent. Add the apple and sugar. Allow to sauté until onion and apple is caramelised.
  5. Add the curry mix. Lightly stir fry to release its aroma. Mix in the jam and vinegar.
  6. Add the brown mince and mix thoroughly. Pour in the chopped peeled tomato and season with ground white pepper.
  7. With your empty tomato tin, fill with water and pour in too. Reduce to low heat and allow to simmer until mince is soft and tender. Remember to stir occasionally so that it doesn’t stick and burn at the bottom.
  8. In a large bowl, soak bread in milk until soft and absorbed. When the mince is tender turn off heat, check and season to taste. Stir in soaked bread and mix thoroughly.
  9. To make the custard - add the egg, milk, and turmeric. Whisk well.
  10. Place mince in an ovenware dish. Pour half of the custard over the mince. Use a spoon or spatula to cut into the mince to mix. Pour the rest over the top and place in a pre-heated oven. Bake at 180’c for about 20 to 30 minutes until custard is set and golden in colour.

Chef Gary's cooking tips

  • If you don’t have a spice grinder - use good store-bought curry powder.
  • Incorporate a lot of air when whisking your custard - this will allow for a good rise and fluffy custard.
  • When simmering your meat down - make sure not to remove too much liquid. You don’t want it dry but also not too saucy.
  • For decoration - garnish with bay leaf

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