Dish It Out: Tharushi Perera

Apr 04 2024.

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

What made you fall in love with cooking? Growing up, I was surrounded by amazing cooks, my Mum and Grandma. While I always knew my way around the kitchen, cooking was never something I actively sought out with my busy life. It wasn't until the unexpected pause of COVID that I discovered a love for cooking and baking and embarked on a delicious journey. With work on hold for a few months, I found myself with unexpected free time. Looking to fill those empty days, I decided to use them to explore some of the recipes, and that's when the spark ignited.

How did A Blend of Tastes come about? With my busy schedule, I never thought I'd develop a passion for food photography, cooking, and baking. But then, something amazing happened. I started experimenting with recipes, particularly those from Sri Lanka during the COVID outbreak, and to my surprise, they turned out fantastic! Sharing pictures of my creations on my personal Instagram got a surprisingly positive response and I wanted a dedicated space to showcase my culinary adventures, separate from my personal photos.  And that's the inspiration behind this page. 

Your favourite recipe on your page right now? Choosing a favourite is a bit hard, but Chicken Fried Rice is a constant winner. No matter what ingredients I toss in, it always turns out delicious.

What’s a little unique habit you have when you are cooking? Instead of rushing into cooking, especially with a new recipe, I prefer to be fully prepared. I like to have everything prepped beforehand, from chopping vegetables to measuring ingredients. While I'm getting organized, music keeps me company. But once I reach the cooking stage, the music goes off.  With new recipes, I find it crucial to focus entirely on the process, adding the right amounts and following the steps carefully. Otherwise, I’m pretty sure things can get a bit chaotic.

What was your favourite childhood meal? I absolutely love all kinds of rolls, whether they're filled with fish, egg, or even chicken. Whenever I go out to eat with my parents, it's always the first thing I ask for. It also brings back happy memories of my grandma. She used to buy them for me all the time and would even bring some home whenever she went out.

No one can ever convince you to try making ______? Aasmi (Sri Lankan Kewili)!  It sounds delicious, but I can see how preparing it might seem intimidating. The ingredient list and process can look a bit complex.  I'm happy to enjoy them when someone else makes them rather than trying out my luck. 

What’s a dish you’ve tried and tested but failed to make?  French macarons are definitely my baking failure! I've tackled them twice, but they haven't quite turned out perfectly.  However, I'm not ready to give up just yet. I'm going to give it a few more goes, and then we'll see what the future holds. 

Dead or alive, who would be your dream dinner-party guests to cook for? If I could cook a meal for loved ones who are no longer with me, it would be for my late grandparents. Since they passed away when I was young, I never had the chance to cook these new recipes for them. In their honour, I'd prepare a classic Sri Lankan Yellow Rice Combo, featuring Fragrant Yellow Rice, Spicy Black Chicken Curry, Tempered Dhal Curry, Stir stir-fried potatoes, Creamy Cashew Curry, Brinjal moju, Sri Lankan Sinhala Pickle, Fish cutlets, and Papadam. To complete the feast, I'd serve a refreshing dessert of Curd with Kithul Treacle and a Fruit Salad topped with Vanilla Ice Cream.

What’s your comfort Sri Lankan meal? It's none other than Steamed White rice, Fish Ambul Thiyal (Sri Lankan sour fish curry), Tempered Dhal, and Coconut Sambol.

What’s the trick to getting Sri Lankan, right? To truly experience the soul of Sri Lankan cooking, I strongly believe, that using the right spices and quantities is the key. Each spice plays a specific role in creating the perfect balance of heat, sweetness, and depth of flavour. Sri Lanka boasts unique spices that add an extra layer of magic, making its cuisine truly unforgettable.

What food are you obsessed with right now? Paella, that symphony of Spanish flavours! The combination of fresh seafood and perfectly cooked rice is simply divine. Every bite is a delicious journey through Spanish cuisine.

Your favourite odd food pairing? Woodapple juice with white rice, an unusual combination, sounds weird, I know it! But it brings back so many fond memories of childhood. My grandma used to make it for me, and I've always loved it. I can't wait to recreate this soon! 

From your food page – what recipe would you recommend for someone trying your recipes for the first time There are a few recipes on the food page, but if you're craving a decadent treat, look no further than my Chocolate Fudgy Brownies! This recipe is perfect for beginner bakers, with easy-to-follow instructions that guarantee a rich, satisfying result for your sweet tooth. 

Your proudest food invention?  My latest creation is a delightful twist on Tiramisu with mango replacing the coffee! It was a delicious experiment, and I'm so happy with the results. I would call it ‘Mango Tiramisu’.

What’s a dish you’d love to relive for the first time again? Sri Lankan Coconut Roti with Spicy Chicken Curry and Tempered Dhal Curry, my forever favourite meal… The combination of fluffy roti, flavourful curries, and creamy dhal is simply divine. It's a true love affair for my taste buds!

Your favourite recipe that has been passed down to you from family? This Sri Lankan sweet treat (kind of Sri Lankan Kewili) is one of my grandma's most treasured recipes. It's called Saw Kewum and is made with Sago, Shredded coconut, and a blend of other ingredients. I've never come across this recipe anywhere else, making it a truly unique family recipe passed down to me. The taste is something truly special, and I feel incredibly fortunate to have learned it from her.

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Panchali Illankoon

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

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