Yudhika Sujanani is Jozi’s Queen of Spice and all things nice! @YudhikaSujanani

Yudhika Sujanani is Jozi’s Queen of Spice and all things nice!

  • Where did your interest in cooking begin? As a child growing up in Natal (learning at the hands of passionate cooking role models, (eg Mom, Gran, family friends)? Do you have any formal chef training?; I did have the best teachers and more than that it was the best experience to learn from people who shared their love through the food they prepared! I did my homework at the kitchen table, soaking up the aromas and idly watching meals being prepared.
  • You started your restaurant, cooking school, published two books, produce your signature range and television show! What’s the secret to your success? I owned a restaurant for a few years and a friend and colleague, Nicky Gibbs, put my name on a roster to do live cooking demos at the Good Food and Wine Show. I was terribly nervous but loved the interaction with the audience. I did not know at the time that a brand manager for a food corporate was in the audience – I went on to represent a rice brand which gave me a platform to connect with foodies. I took the opportunity to collect email addresses and stayed in touch with the audience via email. I sent out emails with recipes and answered queries. I became the ‘Curry Agony Aunt’. I made up a batch of ‘Magic Masala’ and handed out little pots at a live cooking demo – I just wanted the audience to know how much I appreciated them coming to my show…the response was phenomenal. I was posting off spices in little jars and sharing my stash. Before long, I mentioned this to Pat Tarr, the owner of Broadacres Spar. She was keen on stocking the product and I was given two weeks to get it into store. I promoted the spices with some of my photocopied recipes and while at the copying machine, I decided to publish a little curry recipe book called Curry me Home….I then went on to publishing Curry me Home, Again. We are now listed at about 22 Spar stores around Gauteng. The business keeps growing and earlier this year I launched Yudhika & Company Cooking School and Deli.

  • Your blog is called “Food Adventures of a Troubled Chef” – very cryptic, but also intriguing – what was the inspiration for the name of the blog? I was a terribly troublesome sort of kid mainly because I was so so stubborn. It wasn’t considered a positive thing and I got into lots of trouble with the oldies. I was a rebel and challenged authority but mainly the ‘Man is King’ in our family. I still do get into lots of trouble …and I am still troublesome! So, I do get the raised eyebrow for openly tucking into a seared beef fillet or my favourite pork bangers!

  • Many of your recipes successfully combine well known Western ingredients with an Indian twist. Where do you find the inspiration for your recipes? The recipes just reflect my thoughts…what I am thinking and what I want to feast on!

  • You cater to different cultures. Truly a Rainbow Chef, including Diwali, Eid and Easter recipes. How do you balance the various cultures’ tastes and preferences etc? I grew up in a little suburb south of Durban called Isipingo. We grew up with Muslim kids and we played together after school. I am lucky to have experienced different cultures through the food prepared around celebrations and festivals. My grandfather was a mechanic in the 2nd World War and a true adventurer. He was also a bit of a rebel – he would cook pigeon, rabbit and beef and introduced us to ‘bacon brekkies’ and other western faves. He was a free spirit and boy, did he get dirty looks!

  • Your recipes are hearty and homely. What do you cook at home? and what is your favourite meal to serve at dinner parties, functions etc? At a dinner party….Lamb Breyani or traditional lamb curry with home made garlic bread…its got to have potatoes! At home, its everything home made. I am not a fan of the take away convenience meal. I do love curries but am also know to follow a ‘meat and potato’ Afrikaans diet.

  • Many Indian dishes cater to vegetarians. What challenges have you faced with compiling menus and adapting recipes? There are so many allergies and food no nos…from preservatives, colourants, msg and stabilizers…we are bombarded with unhealthy additives which people are trying to get away from. I do find vegan most challenging because I love butter and milk so much. There is also low fat, fat free, wheat free, nut free…the list is endless.

  • What is your favourite kitchen implement, and why? An old favourite, the humble wooden spoon…an old fashioned Indian pestle and mortar and then my KitchenAid!

  • Who is your favourite chef? I have a few favourite home cooks….I am not into fussy food, for me good old fashioned home cooking! But I do enjoy SA chefs like George Georgiou and David Higgs.

  • You have travelled extensively. Where is your favourite holiday destination and what is your favourite cuisine? My favourite cuisine is Indian…no surprises. I love the creamy curries of the north and the more fiery dishes from the South.

  • Your best restaurant experience in Jozi? hmmm…tough one! I hardly eat out!

  • What is it like filming Mela for television? I am delighted to be part of the Mela team. being the food host on the show has been an awesome experience and I give the viewers quick and easy ways to prepare meals with spices. The show launched five weeks ago and the response has been tremendous.

  • You are writing for the Post Newspaper. What can the readers expect? I do write a recipe column for the Post newspaper and sometimes for The Star and Daily News. Again, its old recipes with my very own twist. I also have a simple approach to food that I share with readers.

  • You have hosted and catered charity and private functions. Are you available to cater dinner parties etc? I host parties at Yudhika & Company, we cater parties from 4 people up to 400 people. I also host hands on cooking classes at the Yudhika & Company. Menus are tailor made to suit our customers from lobster to garlic free potato samosas…it can be done!

  • You are married and have 3 children. How do you balance overseas travel, a successful and diverse business, TV shows and a family? Any tips for women considering following a similar route? It’s not an easy road to travel… there are often disgruntled children but I always take time to emphasize that we all have a journey to travel in life and this is mine! I think that my children have come to understand this and it has made it easier. I also have a great team at Yudhika & Company and its the team that make my busy life possible.

  • Do you have any tips for aspiring chefs? Yes, I do….the most important ingredient in becoming a great chef, is the passion because without it, there would be nothing to fuel you through the long hard days….in other words, do it because you love it!

  • What do you love most about living in Jozi? The sunshine!!! Even when its cold, the sun comes out!

Visit yudhikayumyum.com.


Comments are closed.

Editor's choice