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Posted On: 22 July 2020 09:20 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 10:30 am

Qatar Home Cook Series COVID-19 special- Afroz Shareef Shaikh and Nodoka Nakamichi

Kim Wyatt
Kim Wyatt
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This week in Qatar Home Cooks, we’re featuring two mouthwatering rice dishes that are sure to tickle your taste buds! Meet blogger Afroz Shareef Shaikh with a deliciously sweet recipe from northern India and entrepreneur Nodoka Nakamichi with a classic, Middle Eastern favourite.

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

Happy Cooking!

Name: Afroz Shareef Shaikh

Country: India

Occupation: Blogger and founder of

Instagram: @world_cafe_for_you

Has Covid19 changed the way you cook at home? During this lockdown, I have realized that I don't need to go shopping every second day. Before Covid19, I had never shopped for grocery items online but during the past four months, I have barely stepped into a supermarket. Thanks to online delivery services in Qatar and due to more free time, I’ve had more opportunity to try new stuff in my kitchen - from baking my first sourdough bread to countless loaves of banana bread. I have reached out to my mom for my favourite childhood recipes and managed to rediscover old hobbies that I hope to continue after the pandemic is over.

What is your dish? Zarda – a sweet dish from the northern region of India made with long grain rice, sugar, nuts, spices and delicately flavoured saffron.

The origin of the dish comes from the Mughal era. In the days of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, Basant (spring) was celebrated with lots of fanfare and zarda played a major part in the festivity because of its vibrant colour. The name zarda comes from the Persian and Urdu word “zard” which means “yellow”. In local terms, saffron is called zaffran.

Why did you choose this dish?

I have very fond memories of my mother making zarda for special occasions and Dawaats (dinner parties). To this day, I still remember returning from home from school to a house filled with the most delicious aromas. Now, on special occasions, zarda features on my menu by default. This dish is a reminder of my cosy childhood home with my mum and siblings. It feels nostalgic.

Zarda by Afroz Shareef Shaikh
Zarda by Afroz Shareef Shaikh

Afroz's Zarda Recipe


2 cups rice

1 and 1/2 cup sugar

4 tbsp ghee

3 small cardamom

2 cloves

1/2 tsp orange food colour

1 tbsp rosewater

4 tbsp milk

4 tbsp chopped dry fruits

Pinch of salt

1/4 tsp of saffron


  1. Wash and soak the rice for 2-3 hours.
  2. In a large saucepan, add water and bring to the boil. Add food colour, rose water and pinch of salt. Add rice.
  3. When rice is nearly cooked - drain the excess water and transfer rice into a big bowl. Add the sugar. Mix well and set aside
  4. In a wok, heat the ghee and add cardamom and cloves. Gently fry for one minute. Add chopped nuts and sauté for another minute. If desired - add chopped pineapple and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the sweetened rice and sauté to finish the rice cooking process.
  5. Soak saffron in 4 tbsp of warm milk and sprinkle over the rice. Mix well. Reduce the heat and cover rice with a lid. Reduce heat and cook for further 10-12 minutes or until the rice is completely cooked.
  6. Remove from heat. Before serving - sprinkle with dried fruit. Serve hot.

Name: Nodoka Nakamichi

Country: Japan

Occupation: Entrepreneur

Instagram: @nodokanakamichi

Has Covid19 changed the way you cook at home? Yes definitely! I have been cooking at home a lot more. It's given me a lot more opportunity to experiment with new recipes!

What is your dish? Mujadara – lentils and rice topped with caramelized onions.

Why did you choose this dish? - It's a nice and filling recipe and perfect comfort food. I am a vegetarian so I love that the lentils help make this a complete meal!

Mujadara by Nodoka Nakamichi
Mujadara by Nodoka Nakamichi


2 Large Onions

1 Tbs Olive Oil

5 Garlic Cloves

1 Tsp Cumin Seeds

1 Stock Cube

2 Cups Basmati Rice

1 Cup Brown/Green Lentils

Plain Yoghurt, Lemon and Parsley (To Garnish)


1. To start with - I chop an onion and gently fry in olive oil (and salt) for about 20-30 minutes - patience is your friend here.

2. In a separate pot, I sauté garlic and cumin seeds, then add the amount of water appropriate for the amount of rice and lentils you want to cook.

3. Once the water starts boiling, add rice, lentils and stock cube. Then reduce to simmer.

4. Let cook for 20 minutes or until your rice and lentil have cooked through.

5. Once both elements are ready, serve by putting the rice mixture first then the onions on top.

6. I like to squeeze some lemon over the dish and top with parsley and yoghurt. Enjoy!

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