“You gotta Nourish to Flourish!”

The North of Doha during the winter is usually well-known for setting up Winter camps, evening barbeques and hare-hunting. However, our last trip was about something a little greener. Not too far north from the capital city, we took a turn at the Um Al Amad Interchange to discover Eden Farm. This sanctuary was initially a piece of land to provide a home away from home, a quiet retreat from the fast-paced city, for Dr. Salem Al-Naemi and his family. It was from this foundation, that Eden Farm began to flourish.

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Eden spans over 25 acres. From the moment we drove through its welcoming gates, we were overwhelmed with refreshing sights greenery almost everywhere! Nasser Al-Naemi, son of the Managing Director, Dr. Salem, is also an integral part of the family business and was kind enough to take time out of his day to show us around the family farm. The development of the idea of Eden was catalyzed by the need for the local market to provide for its people. At times, supplies of various produce would be difficult to find, or at least of good enough quality. Hence, father and son worked together to develop their farm in order to cater to the demands of the community. Two engineers soon added the art of farming to their résumés- with a twist. In order to maximize on production and to provide adequate supply to meet demands, parts of the farm are run with amazing technology.

As we strolled through the farm, we were amazed at the large variety of vegetables- Indian pumpkin, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes, green beans, Sudani beans, chilis, cucumber, yellow, green and red capsicum, lettuce, spinach, eggplant, radish, cherry tomatoes, spring onion… it was like being on a game drive, but instead of sighting wildlife, we were spotting loads and loads of greens! Many of the veggies were kept in greenhouses, or could be farmed out in the open. Seeds for many of the produce were initially brought in from across the globe, including Japan, India and parts of Europe, chosen for their ability to survive best in Qatar’s climate.

Nasser and his team were kind enough to walk us through units where mushrooms were harvested- it is always amazing to see how farming has become such a science, in order to be as efficient as possible! Nasser explained that his mother went to the supermarket one day and was not able to find mushrooms. Realising that this was not only a problem for his family, but also for many other families, the idea of growing mushrooms took roots. As we walked through the units, we saw all the beds of compost and how they were compacted and kept. The mushrooms are all hand-picked in order to keep as much of the product for the customer, as mechanical slicing may lose part of the product. Soil beds can be used for up to 3 flushes (cycles), before replacing the soil bed completely. The first flush can be harvested after 18 days, followed by the second and third flushes, which are harvested in shorter time intervals, about 7 days apart. Relative humidity, carbon dioxide levels and temperature is controlled and the harvesting of mushrooms can be managed, accurate to the day of harvesting! White mushrooms, brown mushrooms and portobello mushrooms are products of Eden farm, going under its own label as “Oryx Mushrooms”. I was impressed by how clean and tidy the facility was, much like the rest of the farm.

Eden also harvests its own supply of honey. With nectar taken from surrounding Sidra trees, the bees can make their honey. The bees on the farm had been brought in from North Africa. It was great to see someone taking an interest in bee-keeping, as the world’s population of bees is being challenged intensely, and many are unaware of how dire this problem is already! There were also kinar, fruits of the tree, hanging, ready to be plucked and eat, just like that! Mashmoom could also be found, a tree with aromatic leaves and deep purple flowers. Traditionally, mashmoom leaves are used by women, young and old, clipped into their hair for the pleasant smell. These leaves can be put in cars, handbags, anywhere in the home even, to exude its great smell!

At some point, we stopped for the late afternoon prayer. Nasser was kind enough to guide us into his family majlis, where hot karak was waiting for us. Qatari hospitality is something that I still find rarely unsurpassed!

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We then had a quick look at the livestock on the farm. Eden has a growing unit of Awassi sheep and Sudani goats, both hardy breeds of small stock, able to thrive in Qatar’s climatic conditions.

The tour came to a magnificent end as we watched the sun set, melting away into soft pinks and purples, over the lush pasture beneath it. It was incredibly refreshing to enjoy this time out of the city, taking in all the fresh air around us!

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Developing a successful farming business is no easy feat. Coming from South Africa, we are exposed to farming to a degree, aware of the attention farmers have to give to all the finer details, from soil composition, climatic conditions, pests, plant pathologies, and the constant challenge of balancing finances. Indeed, farming is neither easy, nor is it cheap! It takes a great deal of investment in terms of time and money. It also demands a significant amount of patience and perseverance from the farmer. Now, consider farming in the desert, a peninsula, with mostly salt water as a water source and the challenge gets trickier. For this reason, acknowledgement must be accredited to QDB (Qatar Development Bank) for supporting the Al-Naemi family in their farming endeavor. Now, Eden is present in many of the local markets across the State of Qatar, including the Mahaseel market in Katara, selected Al Meera stores and Wholesale Market.

Before we left, Nasser and his team surprised us with a wide variety of their produce. I was so excited to get home and cook and taste these vegetables!

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It was inspiring to see how a concept which started in 2004, matured and persevered through the years, becoming what it is today. Dr. Al-Naemi attributes part of the success of the farm to the family and staff that stood by him and Eden throughout all the years, in order to harvest the fruits of Eden’s success. It was also a pleasure to see local people wanting to empower and cater for their community. Eden and Oryx Mushrooms are definitely initiatives I support. I hope you will too! In South Africa, we have a saying that, “local is lekker”, which translates rather poorly to “local is good (or nice)”. “Lekker” is a term for anything to be enjoyed, and after seeing the farm, as well as eating the produce made there, I can say that local is definitely “lekker” in Qatar, too!

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Here is what we prepared today, using some of the vegetables gifted to us

Vegetable Stir Fry  

Ingredients:
2 tablespoon oil
250 gms minced beef or chicken
1 medium onion, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, diced thin
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cups broccoli florets
1 large red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 large yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 cup water
Black pepper
Salt to taste
Cornflour (to thicken sauce)

Preparation:

Heat oil in wok or large skillet.
Add mince meat and stir fry until brown.  Remove to one side.
Add onions and garlic and stir fry for about 2 minutes until lightly brown.
Add vegetables, oyster sauce and soy sauce and stir fry for 5 minutes (adding water, if necessary, to cook the vegetable)
Return the mince to the wok and stir fry for another 2 minutes.
Add cornflour to thicken the sauce.
Serve with rice or noodles

 

 

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For more information on Eden Farm Market:

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FB: https://www.facebook.com/edenfarmqatar/
https://www.facebook.com/Oryx-Mushrooms-1209196549259922/
IG: https://www.instagram.com/edenfarmqatar/
Email:edenfarmqatar@gmail.com

ummsuhail

 

 

 

Bloggers Cruise

On Friday, I joined the #BloggersCruise, an initiative by the #NationalCruiseCompany and #NewinDoha.

We met at Marina2 at the Pearl Qatar, where we all had time to mingle a bit, prior to boarding the dhow, the excitement was evident.

Once aboard, the staff provided us with the safety on board information.

We embarked on a 3hour cruise, spending the afternoon on the upper deck, making new friends, getting to know each other, appreciating the panoramic view of Doha and the magnificent sunset over the Doha skyline while sipping on a beverage of our choice, definitely a moment to remember!

The dhow was expansive, the majlis on the upper deck was fully carpeted and provided a well laid out seating arrangement, with comfortable back rests.

Soon enough, the sound of the cameras clicking, the shuffling for more selfies, finding the right angle and the correct lighting for the perfect photo opportunity  🙂 #NajlaNabilPhotography provided us with tips on how best to maximize on our camera and device capabilities for better results.

Once the sun had set, we were invited to the enclosed dinner cabin, and treated to a delicious open buffet inclusive of hot and cold beverages, the tables were well set and dressed in white drapery, china and silver, all catered by #FourSeasonsHotelDoha while we enjoyed the sight of Westbay and its shimmering lights.

After dinner, we gathered at the upper deck to make the most of the evening breeze as we returned to the Pearl.

Before we knew it was time to disembark and say our goodbyes to new and old friends.

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A dhow cruise is a must on your next visit or stopover in Doha.

Well worth noting that the National Cruise Company provides:

  • Regular Cruises
  • Dinner Cruises
  • Celebration Cruises (Birthdays, wedding, proposal, henna parties, honeymoon)
  • Diving and Fishing Cruises
  • Educational Cruises
  • Corporate (Meetings and Team Buildings Activities)
  • Water Sport Activities

 

For Enquiries and Bookings: https://www.nationalcruise.com/

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For more details on the FREE Tourist/Transit visas to Qatar and a 48 hours guide in Doha.

check the links below:

https://diaryofapmpmom.com/…/how-pakistanis-can-get-visa-f…/

https://newindoha.wordpress.com/2017/10/04/48-hours-in-doha/

Thank you:

 

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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/umsuhailsblog/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/UmmSuhailsblog

 

 

Fish for Thought???

Qatar saw the opening of Ocean Basket at the Mall of Qatar in December of 2016.

Ocean Basket (OB) is a South African brand with over 201 restaurants in 16 countries around the globe from Dubai to Durban, Nelspruit to Nigeria, serving affordable seafood sprinkled with its special Mediterranean magic.

The aesthetic of OB is a mix of contemporary/traditional  is easy on the eye. The atmosphere was amazing , with the sounds of people engaging in conversation, laughter and sharing moments over a good sea food meal.

Being South African, I wondered if they were able to bring the very same flavours to Qatar, so we headed to the Mall of Qatar to experience it first hand.

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The Manager’s engaging personality in true Lazarides style most certainly  “took me back home” making it a very pleasant experience.

We ordered one of the platters on the menu;

From the fish to prawns, the flavours were right on point. The prawns were succulent, the fish grilled to perfection, the calamari really tender, the mussels delicately seasoned – I would have to say that, Ocean basket Qatar  serves delicious seafood with their famous and irresistible creamy lemon sauce.

The generous portions combined with attentive service makes for a great lunch/dining experience and great value for money.

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“The success of the Ocean Basket brand is based on the basic formula of simplicity, excellent service, value for money and the most delicious seafood served piping hot in the pan, consistent in every Ocean Basket restaurant – https://oceanbasket.com/index.php/ocean_basket_world/blog/fats-lazarides-fish-for-thought

 

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Dining at Chef’s Garden

To end my Eid day, I stopped by Chef’s Garden for a quiet evening dinner, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Chef’s Garden, located at Marwan Club in Al Shaqab, is a hidden gem in Doha. With its clean aesthetic interior, providing you with a view of its great outdoors, its luscious lawn and welcoming pool views, it is certainly a place to delight.

The seasonal menu featuring organically grown local produce and its fresh fish specialties, organic meats seasoned with fresh herbs grown in their very own herb garden, are enough to whet one’s appetite.

I opted for Sesame Crusted Salmon, a baked sesame seed salmon with a lobster bisque sauce and homemade potato gnocchi. The salmon baked to medium rare, so delicate to the palate yet full of flavour complemented by fresh vegetables cooked al dente, crisp on the outside and soft and tender inside—is an ideal way to maximize their nutritional value.

Being Eid Day, the restaurant was relatively quiet. So, I got the full attention of the friendly staff.

 

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