Dish It Out: Shihan Benjamin

Mar 15 2024.

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How do our food experts cook and eat? This week, hotelier and food blogger Shihan of @benjaskitchen takes our Q&A!

Did you grow up in a cooking family? 
Yes, my mom is a great cook. So was my late father. I guess that is where my roots come from. 

How did Benja's Kitchen come about?
During the pandemic I had ample of time and one day I thought of creating an Instagram page and posting food pictures. Surprisingly, it got many likes and followers and that motivated me to post more pictures on a daily basis. I hit 3.5k followers but unfortunately, it got hacked. So I created another page with the same name (@benjaskitchen) and here I am! 

The unique ingredient that will make or break your dishes?
The homemade Benja’s kitchen special curry powder is the key! Well, now don’t ask me the recipe!!

What was your favourite childhood meal? 
“Kiri kos” (Jackfruit curry) and Uru mas (pork curry)

Your secret to a perfect rice & curry every time?
I would say you have to love what you do in the first place and have a passion for cooking. If you have both, then anything you make is perfect every time! 

Rice & curry is not complete without _________?
A Kola mallum.

What's the most adventurous food you've tried so far?
I tried Bear Meat back in 2011 when I was on a holiday in Transylvania and it certainly was an adventurous experience! I was forced to try it and I can assure you that I will never try it again though….

What food trend do you dislike or can't get into right now?

The shovel food trend reminds me of feeding the pigs, don’t you think?

Easiest meal you'd make to impress someone?
Chop suey rice or fried rice. Super easy to prepare in no time and so good! 

Your favourite recipe that has been passed down to you from family?
Ghee-infused fragrant yellow rice menu with a chicken or pork curry, tempered dal, tempered spicy potatoes, brinjal moju, cashew curry, salad and papadam. Oh, and you can’t forget the tuna fish cutlets also! 

Living in Dubai - what Sri Lankan ingredient do you miss the most that you can’t get over there?
‘Kos mallung” (young jackfruit) whenever I go grocery shopping it’s either gone or not available. So, I never had a chance to buy it in Dubai.

Your best advice to a first-time cook?
I would say there’s no right or perfect way to cook. All you have to do is play with the ingredients and keep exploring, eventually you will get there. Everyone has their own way of cooking. It doesn’t have to be the exact same thing written in the recipe books.

What's a dish you'd love to relive for the first time?
In the most Sri Lankan way - Kottu! 

Your comfort food after a long day? 
Definitely a good Shawarma I would say.  

When I'm back in Sri Lanka, the first thing I will eat is __________?
My Mama’s homemade “Baabath curry” (tripe curry). No one gets close to her recipe - she is the best.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Panchali Illankoon

Law Graduate, food and travel enthusiast and full time dog mom..

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