Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka)
How do our food experts cook and eat? This week, food blogger @candiedclicks, takes our Q&A!
Your first memory of cooking?
It actually doesn’t involve me cooking! I was 7 and was more of a helping hand to my family and relatives. My grandma and my aunts from my dad’s side are all amazing cooks so I would help them snap beans. No knife. No chopping. The crisper the “snap” sound, the fresher the bean was. That memory is still fresh in my mind!
What started Candied Clicks?
I love food and I was sharing them on my private social accounts. With great encouragement from my friends who saw the potential in me (which I’m forever grateful for), I finally created Candied Clicks on Instagram about 1.5 years ago and my Youtube channel Candied Cooks this year. Candied Clicks is a pun itself, with my page containing “candid” and “candied (sweeter treats)” dishes and because it was Instagram and it was mostly a photo-sharing platform when I started, I went with Clicks as in taking pictures. I didn’t want a generic name for my culinary blog, so I’m quite proud of the name I came up with, that uniquely describe my style!
What’s your cooking habit?
I like to have my ingredients prepped and ready to go before I start, and I clean as I go. It makes the whole process so smooth and calming! I also hum my favourite tunes while cooking!
An underrated ingredient?
Turmeric! Such a heavenly ingredient. I remember people making fun of it in school for being used in curries and South-east Asian skincare but now they will buy pricey turmeric lattes. Sri Lankans use such potent ingredients so effortlessly and I’m all for it!
If food was a love language, what dish would it be?
KOTHTHU! I put so much love into making every element because I love entertaining people with good food and to me, nothing screams love more than the evening sounds of “tak tak tak” on roadsides!
Your favourite rice and curry combo?
Hot Keeri samba rice with tempered parippu, spicy prawn curry, brinjal moju, gotukola sambol, creamy beetroot curry, simmered down beans curry with dried fish flakes and fried bitter gourd sambol. Of course, with fried chillies and pappadam on the side!
Your favourite childhood meal?
Pittu with freshly made pol sambol, stir-fried sprats (nethili karuvaadu) with lots of fried onions, green chillies, and curry leaves with raw shallots on the side. Such a ridiculously satisfying meal! My aunts would make it regularly for breakfast or dinner. Of course, I still make it and it still brings the same cosy feeling no matter how many times I eat it!
What was the most difficult thing for you to master when you were learning to cook?
To fry an egg unsurprisingly, or fry anything in oil for that matter. I was scared after watching my family handle hot oil, how it would splatter on to your body! I would stand 2 feet away from the stove and just throw things in the pan with hot oil and run away or ask my mom to fry. Looking back now, it’s all so comical!
What dish would you eat but never cook?
Beef Wellington! I LOVE devouring them and knowing how I don’t have the patience or the courage to do justice to them, I don’t see myself making one in the foreseeable future!
What’s the most exotic food you’ve eaten?
I’m not a picky eater but I unknowingly had Jokbal at a Korean restaurant in Sydney, which is made from pig’s trotter. I was so taken away by the taste to even react in that situation!
Your favourite odd food pairing?
Banana and bacon. I’ve had these enough of times to not find it odd anymore though! Anyone who loves maple bacon waffles will easily love the addition of caramelised banana to it. The rich and sweet banana nicely balances out the salty, fatty bacon and will honestly confuse your palate in the best way possible!
What’s a dish you’d love to relive for the first time?
Beef baabath (tripe)! I was hesitant and I couldn’t get that vivid imagery out of my head, but I was disappointed in myself for not fully savouring that first taste! What a divine creation!
Deserted island scenario – you can only have one basic food to make all your food from. What is it?
Potatoes! Such a versatile, humble thing. The possibilities with them are quite literally endless. They’ve got the essential nutrients for those survival needs and can be easily grown in many climates and soil.
Your proudest lockdown food invention?
My stacked pancakes! I missed my brunch outings, so I made one indulgent brunch at home!
What would you say is your signature style when it comes to cooking?
Rainbow plates! I love colourful meals and the more natural colours, the healthier the meal! Also, if I like something, I will rarely find something better to replace it. I’m very loyal to the flavours I love!
Your favourite leftovers?
Definitely, leftover curries! The intense flavours that saturate the curry after it’s been left standing, you won’t attain such a concoction even if you try!
Your favourite recipe that has been passed down to you from family?
Ooh, this is a hard one because my inspiration comes greatly from my family! If I have to choose one, then it would be the luscious crab curry that I had growing up and the gobsmacking aroma that would waft through the household! My family always cook crab with moringa leaves and it’s a match made in heaven. I take great pride in especially knowing this recipe and I keep it as authentic as how my family keeps it.