Shailaja Desai

Founder of

The 47-year old culinary enthusiast and founder of Cookingwithshy, Shailaja Desai, has been living in Dubai for seven years. The blogger is originally from Mumbai, but moved here from Toronto with her husband and teenage son. Shailaja lives in The Lakes, and often finds herself either gardening, baking or doing yoga and pilates when she has spare time on hand.

About the blog

I’ve been cooking and baking ever since I was 12, but developed an interest in food photography just a few years ago. That’s when, in 2007, Cookingwithshy was born! Along with a collection of recipes, I also post all my culinary adventures and reviews of gourmet stores I visit. The blog has everything from Lebanese to Indian food, and the cake recipes are definitely worth trying!

Worth reading

The Heart of Home (Random House Australia) by Julia Goodwin. The cookbook was a gift and has a lovely selection of everyday recipes, from salads and grills to a delicious pea risotto. It’s the kind of book you want to cook from!

In ten minutes, I can cook

Spaghetti with pesto sauce, mushrooms, dried oregano and basil (from my garden). I always have a jar of homemade pesto in my pantry.

Favourite food memory

I lived in Toronto for a few years and every summer we stayed in the countryside of Hamilton, Ontario. I loved going there to pick strawberries to make jam.

Guilty pleasure

Häagen Dazs caramel biscuit and cream flavoured ice cream with speculoos (spiced biscuits).

If I dined out every day, it would be at…

La Petite Maison! This restaurant offers a sublime blend of French-Mediterranean cuisine. The salad of endives, gorgonzola and caramelised walnuts, pan fried Dover sole for mains, and French toast with spiced ice cream will want you going back for more.

A dish I’d love to tackle

Black cod with miso from Nobu Matsuhisa. I adore Japanese cuisine and this dish has the simple flavours of mirin and miso.

All-time favourite movie

Julia and Julia! I feel like I’m in the same spot as Julie in the movie, as I am constantly trying out something new and exciting to blog about.

My next culinary adventure

Hopefully Tuscany! I would love to roam the countryside, visit olive groves, try the food and wine, and learn how to perfect pasta and bread making.


I’m in awe of Yotam Ottolengi (chef, restaurateur, and cookbook writer). His cooking style is a mix of Middle Eastern and Western techniques, and all his recipes have an incredible blend of textures and exotic ingredients. I recently adapted his roast chicken with zaatar and sumac and it turned out great!