Featured, People of Joburg, Recipes

Chef of the Month: Naqiyah Mayat

Jun 19, 2020, Author: Candice May

Since starting her food blog 12 years ago, Naqiyah Mayat has stacked up more than 30,000 Instagram followers, started her own lifestyle brand and just released her very first cookbook, The Beginning: Indian Recipes from my Home. We caught up with this powerhouse to find out more about her book, being a mum and what’s next. 


What inspired your love of food? 

My relationship and connection with my husband, Mohamed is largely centered around food and it helps us to communicate in so many ways. Mohamed and I retreat to bed every evening with a quiet moment and a cup of masala tea. While our marriage has resulted in some incredible food, it’s also produced four very curious children, all with a voracious appetite for life.   

Tell us what made you release your debut cookbook. 

For me, food has a magical way of connecting and unifying us. It’s the invisible thread that connects us all. From the start, I wanted to publish a book that harnessed the power of my food memories – from growing up to the new discoveries I made when I got married and the shared experiences I had from cooking for my children. I wanted to develop a book to give an honest and easy approach to cooking and to reinvent familial cooking, where the past serves as an inspiration rather than a set of rules. 

Do you have a favourite chapter in the book 

Probably chapter two, because not all spices are the same! The spice chapter shows you how it all comes down to the variety of spices and quality of ingredients that are used. You’ll have a good understanding of spices after reading this chapter. 


What else do you love to cook? 

I love creating showstopping desserts for my guests. For me, a showstopper doesn’t necessarily need to be something elaborate – a memorable dish can be created with a few ingredients and minimal prep. I recently recreated a traditional ‘sweetmeat’ as a panna cotta and topped it with Turkish candy floss. It was a great way to elevate ordinary flavours. 

Tell us about your favourite ingredients to work with. 

The staples you’ll always find in my home are ground garlic, ground ginger and red ginger and garlic masala in my fridge, a pack of Woolworths puff pastry in my freezer and a tin of broad beans in my pantry. Together, these can make a meal. 

Other than cooking, what are your passions?  

Im passionate about creating content for my Instagram account and looking at creative ways to market myself. I also love fashion and enjoy finding items that define my personal style. 


Anything people would be surprised to know about you? 

I think people would be surprised to know that I used to think that I’d be a fashion designer, doctor or a pilot. But now (look, Mum!) I’m all three – just fulfilling each in different ways. 

Share your favourite dishes in Joburg. 

I frequent a few places in Joburg and rarely deviate from what I order when I go there. A standout for me is something as simple as a Citrus Sunrise breakfast pot from Tashas – I even order it for dinner sometimes! I also love the butter chicken at Alhamra Restaurant in Mayfair for lunch, the prawn tagliatelle at Saint in Sandton for dinner and the ice cream nut cake at Pigalle for dessert. 

You’re a mum of four – have you ever had to deal with fussy eaters? 

I often get asked on social media how my kids aren’t fussy eaters, and the answer is that I’ve groomed them from a young age to try every food and learn to have an appreciation for it. I’ve never followed a prescribedchildren’s diet and introduced foods to my kids that weren’t typically child friendly. Also, I never limited them to the kids menu at restaurants, so they’ve been eating salmon and shellfish from a young age and even eat oysters now (which I wouldn’t typically order for myself!).  

What’s next for you and your career?  

I’m currently busy developing two additional cookbooks which delve further into my cooking style.  

Facebook: @naqiyahm  

Twitter: @naqiyahmayat 

Instagram: @naqiyah_mayat 

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