Dish It Out - Anoma Wijetunga

Aug 12 2021. views 337

How do our food experts cook and eat? This week, the host of everyone’s go-to cooking YouTube Channel ‘Anoma’s Kitchen’, Anoma Wijetunga takes our Q&A!

You’ve taught tons of people the basics of cooking; how did you learn yours?
My mother was the one who taught us how to cook. When I came home for the holidays from the Convent Boarding School, she used to get me involved in the kitchen work. My first memory of cooking was how to cook rice. What was special about this was that we had to learn how to properly separate the stones from the rice using Nambiliya and cook using firewood. 

What started Anoma’s Kitchen?
I always wanted to share the delicious food that we were enjoying with other people. Also, I noticed that most people now are so busy that they always resort to eating from outside. That’s when I realized how far the young generation was from the kitchen. My main intention was to show them that cooking is not hard and it's very enjoyable and de-stressing. My first episode was on making Pol Sambol because it’s one of our favourites at home. 

Do you have a particular habit when you are cooking?
I like to make sure my surroundings are neat and tidy while I cook. And I also like it if someone I love is around while I cook.

What is an underrated ingredient when it comes to Sri Lankan cuisine?
Fenugreek Seeds. Though it’s not mentioned much, fenugreek seeds have a huge impact on many Sri Lankan white curries such as Kirihodi, white vegetable curries and white fish curry.

What was your favourite childhood meal?
Fish Kirihodi with steaming rice. I remember drooling over it when my mother used to feed my younger brother first in his baby chair. I still make it because it’s a family favourite even in my house.

If you had Rs. 500, what meal would you make with it?
White Rice, Pol Sambol, Fish Ambul Thiyal, Tempered Tomato with Fried Egg.

What’s a dish you’ve tried and tested but failed in making?
Konda Kavum.

Dead or alive, who would be your dream dinner-party guests?
My parents, because they passed away too soon and I could not treat them to delicious meals like I do now. So if I could, I would love to have them with all my heart.

What’s a meal you would make if you wanted to impress someone?
When I cook for guests, I always make sure to treat them to the most delicious and memorable meals. I like to cater to the guests depending on their situation. If they live in Sri Lanka, then I make sure to cook something different from the usual Rice and Curry. But if they are coming from abroad, then I make sure to cook some authentic Sri Lankan dishes, as that is what they are missing over there.  I am so particular about this, that I even maintain a book to plan all these dinners. If the same guest comes again another time, then I can always refer to the book and provide them with entirely different cuisine.

What’s the most exotic food you’ve eaten?
When I visited my daughter in Guangxi, China, her friend treated us for lunch one day. When she asked us what we’d like to have, I requested the signature dish in this region. It was a delicious soup rice noodle with a thick broth called Luosifen. After eating halfway, I asked her what the broth was made of. To my surprise, it was made from river snails. Of course, at first, I was shocked, but I didn’t show that to her friend, as it was rude and also because I actually enjoyed it so far!

Your favourite odd food pairing?
Eating curd, treacle with cooked rice. This is a known tradition in the south.

Your favourite recipe of all time?
Spicy Prawn Curry. It’s a dish rarely made well by everyone.

What’s a dish you’d love to relive for the first time?
Chinese Prawn Dumplings.

What are your favourite leftovers?
Roast Chicken. It’s such a versatile ingredient to use for anything.

Do the cooking or have someone cook for you?
Do the cooking. In all my 32 years, I was the one who cooked for my family. And I did it with love. I do have helpers, but only to help with the washing and cleaning.

Which is your favourite cuisine to make and eat?
Definitely Sri Lankan. Because no matter what I eat, Sri Lankan will always be the one cuisine that will be filled with so much flavour and can satisfy my palate anytime.

What is the one thing someone learning to cook for the first time should know?
That cooking is not rocket science. It’s actually very easy to cook.

Sweet or savoury?
Definitely savoury. 

Anoma’s Kitchen just celebrated 5 years! What do you love and enjoy about Anoma’s Kitchen?
I love that within these 5 years, my goal has been fulfilled. Meaning that many people, regardless of their gender, age and profession, have started to love cooking and incorporated it into their lives. And apart from cooking, I also wanted to promote the importance of family bonding. So, I also enjoy seeing that goal come to fruition.


Panchali Illankoon

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


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