Jia Kuriah Anthony, a Kenya Airways cabin crew loves good food. Now that the coronavirus season has afforded us more time at home, he is spending his in the kitchen.
At home, he is whipping up elaborate five-course meals and dreams of another life in which he might have become a chef.
“I love cooking because I appreciate good food. I love to eat food and taste every ingredient used to make it. The tongue and the mouth work wonders when tasting flavours. You taste the flavours of Miami, Fiji, Mozambique, and Cairo somewhere but all these are happening in your mouth,” he says.
The self-taught chef who is in his 30s learned how to cook out of necessity.
“When growing up, we did not have a house girl and my mum was a church lady who believed in attending all three masses if not two. My dad was always out and about. My elder sister was in a boarding school so I was left to cook the Sunday lunch and dinner,” he says.
Then the dishes were less than appetising. When his mother started a catering business, he slowly learned how to cook better by watching her.
He has perfected his art by the day and now cooks like a pro chef. His favourite dish to cook is soup.
“Soup when well-cooked gives a foodie all tastes and flavours of what ingredients used. I hardly drink water. Soup doubles up as water and food at the same time,” he says.
He is a lover of seafood. “Crabs, prawns, shrimps. Name it all. I love them. I eat seafood any time of the day. I also like well-made chapati,” he says.
Because spices make the food, his kitchen cabinet must have rosemary spice, lemongrass, masala, chili, Royco, garlic, and oregano.
He also grows his spices and herbs in a kitchen garden.
Would he travel for food?
“Most definitely! As much as you eat certain foods from other parts of the world in your home country, nothing beats the taste of the same food in the original country they come from,” he says. His most memorable dishes include Korean fermented soybeans, biltong from South Africa, and Turkish bread.
“I once ate a Korean dish that’s made of fermented soybeans. The dish took over eight months to make. The moment you take a bite, all your taste buds go up down, left, right, all over. You can’t figure out what it is and why you are so excited eating it,” he says.
For Jia, cooking, especially now helps parents instill good mannerisms and kitchen etiquette to their children. Cooking is also therapeutic and it births more activities, for example, a kitchen garden.
His favourite must-try meals at home? Sausage quiche and TomYum soup, a simple, flavourful soup from Thailand.
· Shallow fry the onion and spinach for a short period.
· Cut the cooked sausages (deep-fried or shallow fried as per your liking) into small pieces.
· Add coriander to the mixture
· Add chilli flakes, if you like.
· Add the grated cheddar cheese and mix.
· On a well-greased baking tin, pour the mixture and bake it for 20-25 minutes on 185 degrees.
· Veggies– carrots, spinach, French beans, sweetcorn
· Pour in the tom yum kung sachet.
· Add fish fillet strips
· Boil for three minutes.
· Add salt and lemon juice
· Serve with rice or bread or chapati
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