In this edition of My Favorite Foodies Series we meet Ramona from Curry and Comfort. Ramona’s lovely blog was nominated as Best New Blog by Foodbuzz this past year. And if you are following Curry and Comfort you will agree that it was well deserved. Ramona’s recipe collection is not only extensive but delicious. Please help me welcome Ramona as she tells us a little bit about her and her mouthwatering blog.
Can you tell us a little bit about your blog, what should people expect to find there?
My blog is called Curry and Comfort. You will basically find a very diverse collection of recipes from various curries, burgers, pastas, desserts and much, much more. Why such a diverse collection you ask? Well, I always say it’s because I was born in Sri Lanka, but raised all my life in the United States. So my blog really reflects the two culinary worlds I grew with plus America’s melting pot of diverse international cuisines. To sum it up, my blog basically represents all the food I want to eat and then some.
Is there a special significance of your blog’s title?
Curry and Comfort. It’s a pretty simple name, right? Truthfully, I struggled for hours trying out all kinds of different names and nothing felt right. I knew I wanted the word ‘Curry’ in it…. but curry what? My blog was not all about curry. At one point I was just Curry and Confused. LOL! Well the word ‘Comfort’ finally came to mind because at the end of the day all food is not just nourishment, but comfort for the soul in my opinion.
Why do you like to cook/bake or spend time in your kitchen? Have you always liked spending time in the kitchen?
As a child, I grew up watching and helping my mother cook. The kitchen was always a place of happiness and comfort for me. We also never went out to restaurants, so we ate my mother’s cooking every day. We were blessed that she was a good cook so we never felt deprived. I actually didn’t eat at a restaurant until my sophomore year in high school when my friends took me to a Chinese restaurant for the first time. Of course that opened a whole new world for me in eating out, but I have always appreciated a home cooked meal.
When I was old enough I would help out and make dinner for my family from time to time. My first dishes to cook on my own were pastas. I still can make a great pasta dish (spaghetti, lasagna etc…) Truthfully, making curries were not my strong suit because I felt like I couldn’t compete with my mother’s cooking. Then I moved out on my own and I lived thousands of miles away from my mother’s home cooking. I lived in a small town that had absolutely no international stores so my mother would mail me curry powder and chili powder. I would call her and ask her for recipes or use my one Sri Lankan cookbook to make curries. I had to learn how to cook curry through necessity. The funny thing is I gained my confidence enough to cook for 300+ people at a University International Night. I cooked Chicken Curry, Eggplant Curry, Shrimp Curry and Fragrant Yellow Rice. That small university town may have not known much about curry when I got there, but they sure knew about it after I left.
On your about page you mention Sri Lanka being home. What food do you miss most from Sri Lanka that you can’t get in the US?
When we came to the United States in the early 70’s there was so much we had to substitute when it came to cooking Sri Lankan food. These days you can almost get anything from Sri Lanka in the United States through Asian stores or online. The world has gotten smaller and international food is not as unattainable as it once was. Of course after saying that, I would love to have a Sri Lankan grocery store at my corner so I can use it whenever I need. These days when someone goes to Sri Lanka, I always ask for tea, curry powder, treacle, Sri Lankan chili powder etc… It’s not that you can’t get it here, but it’s so more special when you get it from there.
You have shared many great Sri Lankan recipes on your blog. Which one would you recommend to someone cooking Sri Lankan food for the first time?
I think the best recipes to start out with for any first time curry cook is lentils. Lentils are inexpensive, so if the worst happens you didn’t spend a fortune. Lentils are also wonderful because they are so versatile. You can make curries, soups and appetizers. They suit any lifestyle since they can be cooked spicy or mild and are also wonderful for vegetarian and vegan diets.
Here are some of my favorite lentil recipes:
Channa Dhal-Indian Style Lentils
Spinach, Tomato and Lentil Curry
Basic Lentil Curry-Vegan Version
Spicy Lentil Curry
Spicy Spinach and Lentil Curry- Vegan Version
Punjabi Lentil Curry (Vegan)
Indian-Thai Fusion Lentil Curry
Curried Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup
Spicy Lentil (Masoor Dal) Soup
What is your most special or memorable kitchen memory, be it a happy or a disastrous memory?
The most memorable kitchen moments are the memories that deal with what I call “the passing of the culinary torch”. These are the memories I have of helping my mother cook when I was a little girl learning to appreciate the basics of cooking. I feel like I am still very much the student and I have so much to learn from her 60+ years of cooking experience as she passes the culinary torch to me. I am also creating special memories every day with my own children when they are in the kitchen with me. I love that I get to pass the culinary torch to the next generation so they can learn to cook and appreciate food as much as I do.
What is your favorite ingredient, the one you couldn’t live without?
Now this question is really hard for me because I would feel at a loss without my spice cabinet, onions, ginger and garlic. If I had to put all those ingredients to the side, the one that really comes to mind is chilies. I try to spice almost anything up and I cannot live without spice.
What is your favorite spice and why?
I think my favorite spice will surprise most of you… it is Cumin. I love the flavor of cumin and it can be used in Sri Lankan, Indian, American, Latin, African and Mediterranean cuisine so it very important to have in my spice cabinet. I also love the versatility of it this ingredient that you can eat whole or ground.
What food or ingredient repulses you, and why?
Now this question is easy for me. The first ingredient that comes to mind is cilantro. I am one of those individuals who simply cannot eat food with cilantro. I always say it is my personal kryptonite. I always thought it was just something weird about me, but I have come to realize that there are so many people that have this affliction to cilantro. I think we need tee-shirts to represent this. A tee-shirt would also be great to wear when dining out so I don’t have to always ask “is that parsley or cilantro?”
When you want to treat yourself or loved ones what do you prepare or splurge on?
If I want to “wow” my family and friends, my lasagna is always a winner. First of all it serves a big crowd and it is quick and easy to make. Throw in a great big green salad and some garlic bread and you’ve got a meal that makes everyone happy.
When you go out to eat what do you go for?
I love spicy food so anything spicy. I used to go to a Thai restaurant that served a whole deep fried white fish topped with shrimp and scallops and a spicy Thai basil sauce. It still makes me happy when I think of it.
What food is your food vice? You know, one you sneak in a little extra of when no one is looking.
I’m not supposed to eat too many sweets… but peanut butter and chocolate together are my food vices. I could eat Reese’s peanut butter cups every day.
Who is your favorite foodie? (Be it a professional, enthusiast or novice)
Well my favorite foodie hands down has to be the first person that taught me all about food…my mother. The culinary imprint she has made in my life is undeniable. When I think what my other culinary influences are, I have to name an entire network– The Food Network. I can watch the Food Network for hours. I just love watching good food being made and more than that I love watching and learning new cooking techniques, terms and ideas. I also love that I can watch cooking shows with my young children and they are just as fascinated by food as I am.
What is your goal or what do you hope to accomplish with your blog?
My immediate goal for my blog was to document my recipes. I needed my recipes to be documented because I have a terrible memory for remembering what I put into a dish when I cook. I simply cook without measuring and I’ll add ingredients from other cultures into any dish just to get a delicious end result. It’s a great skill to have when you’re cooking, but the unfortunate thing is I have never been able to recreate the same recipe twice because I can never remember what and how much I put in the original dish. Pulling out measuring cup and spoons was hard at first, but I have really learned to appreciate them. I actually use my blog and look up my own recipes all the time if I want to recreate my own dishes.
My second goal was to get all my mother’s recipes documented. I want to be able to pass her recipes down to my daughter, son, niece and nephews so generations to come can enjoy my mother’s amazing cooking.
Anything else you would like to say or share with us, tips or advice for fellow blogger?
When I started my blog one year ago I never thought I would be a part of such an amazing food blogging community. I have met so many wonderful people from all over the world that all share a mutual love and appreciation of food and recipes. It has been one of the most wonderful ventures of my life. Curry and Comfort feels like my third child because it truly is a labor of love. I would like to thank all of my wonderful blogger friends that support and encourage me every day. I am also thankful every day for being able to learn so much from all the blogs I follow (like the Spicie Foodie). I would like to thank Nancy for having me as part of her wonderful blogger interview series.
Recipes for images in the graphic and photos can be found in the links below.
– Masala Meatloaf (Indian Style Meatloaf)
– Chicken Curry- Sri Lankan- My Mother’s Version
–Black Beans and Brown Rice
– Creamy Cajun Pasta with Shrimp
– Peanut Butter, Oat, Banana BreadPeanut Butter, Oat, Banana Bread
– Valentine’s Red Velvet Strawberry Short-Cupcakes
– Asian Cabbage and Kielbasa Fried Rice
– Spicy and Fresh Pineapple Salsa
– Asparagus Curry -Sri Lankan Style
– Traditional Sri Lankan Eggplant Curry
All images are the sole property of Ramona and Curry and Comfort. Graphic design by Spicie Foodie. Please do not use images or graphics without prior written consent. Thank you.