Charindi Meegasthanna is the face behind Mad Curry Skills by Chari and the cook behind the delicious curry recipes up on our page! The daughter of an established chef, it's clear that Charindi Meegasthanna is the face behind Mad Curry Skills by Chari and the cook behind the delicious curry recipes up on our page! The daughter of an established chef, it's clear that the love for food and the skills for cooking runs in the blood. In this casual interview – Chari tells us all about her curry hacks and personal food philosophies.
Q Being that you make lamprais for orders - original Dutch lamprais vs. Sri Lankan lamprais – what would win?
Honestly, I believe in a lamprais there are basics we have to keep in line with. That said, I think an egg really adds to the lamprais while I would get really angry if I see chilli paste in a lamprais! I’m a believer of food innovation and I think if you play within the realms of something that is fine as long as you keep a certain standard of authenticity without drowning it in nonsense. So, I’m really in the middle about this and my lamprais is equally in the middle. I wouldn’t say what I do is an authentic lamprais but I think it has a good balance.
Q What is the most useless and useful item in your kitchen right now?
A useless item? I don’t think I have any…..Oh! Wait I do, a spiral cutter I bought to make noodles out of Zucchini but it was such a complete waste of my time and money. Now it’s used as a storage box in my kitchen because my mother got annoyed just having it in the kitchen and stored some spice in it. As for the most useful, it’s definitely my food processor! It was a gift from my husband for our anniversary and I love it so much. I treat it really well; I don’t even keep it in my kitchen – it's in my room! I make everything from it from marshmallows to granola bars.
Q Do you enjoy music when you are working in the kitchen?
Actually, I’m a very silent person when I’m cooking. When I’m cooking, I’m 100% concentrating because I’m in the zone. No one talks to me, no one bothers me – they don’t even come into the kitchen. It’s one of the very few times my mind isn’t running all over the place – my focus is on cutting and cooking and sorting out the spices. If I listen to music then I can’t focus.
Q What ingredient is underrated?
I think we don’t use fenugreek enough in our Sri Lankan curries. I know we use it a lot for meat-based curries and potato curry but I think it can also be used for other vegetable curries like carrot and beetroot because the bitter, pungent taste of fenugreek will complement the sweetness. Fenugreek is definitely a tricky spice because it gives a bit of a strong taste but when you use it correctly – it’s a great addition.
Q What’s a dish you’ve had a hard time making?
I actually had a hard time mastering fried rice but I eventually got it right. I usually pick up recipes in one shot but for some reason, I found it really difficult to perfect fried rice!
Q Your comfort go-to meal?
String hoppers, potato kiri hodi, a good spicy sambol with kocchi and seeni sambol. That’s a combination I would have for breakfast, lunch and dinner any day. My mom’s stringhoppers are out of the world and so soft – it's like clouds! It’s a comfort meal because it's something we had so often growing up so it has such a homely feel to me.
Q Your best kitchen hack?
So, I’ve seen a lot of people struggling to unpeel garlic where they either spend lots of time trying to peel it off or just smash it but a trick I learned from my father is to use the flat side of the knife to kind of flatten the garlic and in less than just half a second your garlic is peeled.
Q What was your favourite childhood meal?
Chicken Shawarma! I’m vegetarian now but when I was small I lived in the Middle East and the Chicken Shawarma reminds me of a time my mom would take me to French class (which I hated) and as a way to pacify me, she would buy me a Chicken Shawarma with a Coca Cola. I really loved it – probably the only reason I got through school!
Q A meal with Rs.500?
Oh, definitely Sri Lankan rice and curry. It’s so cheap and you can make so many things with it. We have all these wholesome local vegetables like dambala, okra or manioc you can use to make a wonderful meal. You don’t even have to get the expensive stuff like beetroot because even Kehelmuwa which you can get for Rs. 30 for a blossom makes an amazing mallum!
Q Your most challenging dish?
I think Lamprais is challenging - not so much that it is difficult but because it’s a labour of love. There are just so many components to it and even to this day, I’m still perfecting the process that goes into it.
Q What would your last meal be?
Kiribath, seeni sambol, a nice lunumris and a kiri hodda.
Q A meal you’d cook to impress?
I think I would stick to our family’s Yellow Rice set. It's been tried and tested for years and its an absolute winner and a part of our business menu. So, dry dhal curry, brinjal pahi, malay pickle, black chicken or pork curry, tempered potatoes, tuna cutlets and papadam.
Q You are entering a cooking competition - which one would it be?
I would love to enter Masterchef. I don’t think I’m up to that level yet but every contestant that enters the show is incredible! Hopefully – one day! I’d make my string hopper menu for my audition.