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From passion to plate

The mother of two turned what was once a chore to her into a eye-catching social media presence

18 Jun 2020 / 11:33 H.

THEVI KULENDRAN initially started her social media presence – focusing on her culinary creations – out of her own personal interest. “Then friends wanted to learn these recipes. So it became a recipe-sharing platform,” she said during a recent interview with theSun.

And now, if you visit @theviskitchen on Instagram or Facebook, you can see that it has become so much more.

“I started cooking when I was about 17. But back then, it was more of just a chore. My sisters and I would take turns to cook,” said the 41-year-old stay-at-home mother.

Harissa-spiced tofu, purple sweet potato hummus, figs and kale. – Courtesy of Thevi Kulendran
Harissa-spiced tofu, purple sweet potato hummus, figs and kale. – Courtesy of Thevi Kulendran

“Then when I got married and had kids, I started to cook more again. I wanted the kids to have nutritious meals. I started experimenting a lot. More like a self-taught cook and baker, thanks to all the online tutorials and YouTube videos.

“Of course [I had] cookbooks too, but to learn how to bake, you need to look at tutorials. I used to watch a lot of programmes on the Asian Food Channel and Food Network,” added Thevi.

During the movement control order (MCO) Thevi spent a lot of time with her two children, 12-year-old Aiden and nine-year-old Rheanna, who share their mother’s passion for cooking.

The MCO also enabled Thevi’s husband Stuart Ramalingam, also the general secretary of the Football Association of Malaysia, to spend more time at home and join in.

Slow roast lamb shank on creamy mashed potatoes. – Courtesy of Thevi Kulendran
Slow roast lamb shank on creamy mashed potatoes. – Courtesy of Thevi Kulendran

“I love cooking all types of cuisines. While I love cooking curries and other Malaysian recipes, I also try to find shortcuts to make them quick, yet still maintain the ‘yumminess’ of the dishes.

“Hopefully these recipes can help those who want to cook, but don’t really want to spend long hours with preparation. With some tips and tools on how to make cooking fun and quick in the kitchen, you can save time to do other things with friends and family,” said Thevi.

Her inspiration comes from many sources. Some of it comes from lessons taught to her by her grandmother, and some from British culinary legend Nigella Lawson, just to name a few.

“Recipes are like guides. You can give five people the same recipe but each dish may come out differently. It’s how the individual would interpret it according to his or her preference and experience.

Oven roasted ayam percik with nasi bunga telang and tempeh chips. – Courtesy of Thevi Kulendran
Oven roasted ayam percik with nasi bunga telang and tempeh chips. – Courtesy of Thevi Kulendran

“Cooking for the first time would make you want to follow the recipe exactly. Then when you cook it the second time, you’ll want to change it to suit the way you want it to be. So you get creative, you get a little braver to add on ingredients, try a different technique, and so on,” said Thevi.

If you have visited Thevis Kitchen on Instagram or Facebook, you know that her skills are beyond just making food easy to prepare, and delicious. Thevi has also mastered the art of making food look good.

“One of the things I really enjoy is also taking pictures of my food. So plating food and food photography keeps me interested to come up with exciting dishes,” said Thevi, who takes her photos using her smartphone camera.

She said that she honed her photography skills from years of practice, looking at what works, what doesn’t, and getting inspiration from other like-minded foodies on social media.

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