The other week I had the pleasure of welcoming cook Anita Kerai into my kitchen. She arrived with boxes full of food and spices, and a big grin on her face. Within minutes she’d begun, cooking up a Gujarati feast in my Fenland kitchen, completely relaxed in this stranger’s home.
After a day of cooking and learning it was time to eat. We sat down, friends over a feast of delicious food, and Anita shared with me her story…
By profession, I am a qualified accountant with over 15 years in the media industry, but the thought of turning to my hobby and passion has been with me since my daughter was born 9 years ago. So finally in early 2017, I decided to take the plunge and make my dream a reality. I love the buzz and the thrill of working in media, but wanted to incorporate this with food, cooking and most importantly promoting healthy eating, I enrolled myself to Leiths School of Food and Wine on ‘How to be a Food Presenter ’.
I have had a passion for food, cooking and eating since I was a little nipper in Kenya. Both my parents are amazing cooks and being the eldest of four meant that I had the responsibility of helping my mum with all the chores including cooking. I find cooking therapeutic and love all the drama that comes with it, going to local markets, the smells and feeling that you get when touching the veg, fruits, playing with spices, chopping, peeling, tasting………..
Playing in the fields surrounded by trees, nature and wildlife, and growing up surrounded by poverty has made me environmentally friendly. I am a strong believer in minimizing my carbon footprint, keeping our planet green, and love food hate waste, recycling and reusing as I believe we have a moral and ethical responsibility to future generations.
Hence I set up my cookery school Anita’s Kitchen to teach how to cook delicious healthy food using wonky veg and also show how to reduce food waste by using ingredients in your fridge or pantry. All the recipes are focused on teaching simple healthy balanced meals to suit a busy lifestyle.
I am a Food Revolution Ambassador as I want to promote healthy eating amongst kids to tackle child obesity. I hosted my first event at Priestmead Primary School in Harrow. I held a number of workshops making breakfast wraps with kids from years 1 to 5. This was an insightful, amazing, fun filled experience from which realized how much sugar these kids have in their diet and why providing free school meals is so important as many of them don’t regularly eat breakfast. My target for the coming year is to work with other schools and be a Super Ambassador. Promoting healthy eating amongst children is close to my heart as I believe that by investing in a child you are investing in the future of the economy.
Born in a vegetarian family like most Kutchi Gujarati’s, our diet is mainly plant based, full of grains, lentils and dairy. However I am trying to go full vegan but still experimenting with different milks and yoghurts as those are the only dairy products I tend to eat. Also I want to challenge the misconception that being a vegan or vegetarian does not provide a balanced nutritious diet. A lot of traditional recipes that I have grown up with combine the right balance of proteins, vitamins and minerals to ensure great health.
A very much of an adventurous and spontaneous cook, most of my dishes tend to be a fusion of my favorite cuisines, African, Gujarati, Middle Eastern and Italian. Where ever I go on holiday I always make an effort to visit the local markets as I love collecting and using different spices, herbs, oils and tasting the local cuisine.
Along with my family, friends, travel, music, reading and watching cricket, food is what gives me the most pleasure. Living Green is second nature to me, but I know being a new vegan or vegetarian can be daunting. I want to pass down the traditional recipes I have grown up with and add a bit of my style and my own creations to all those who want to move towards a plant based diet.
Find out more about Anita Kerai here: http://anitaskitchen.co.uk
Watch her cooking on her channel, here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCj_GjoTXMsiaSRqoGP3xCAA
And look out for some of these fabulous recipes coming soon on Surf4hub.com