Earlier this month, Lucia Mthiyane launched “Kitchen Queen”. Of course, fans have become most au fait with her prowess in the kitchen as she is constantly posting cooking videos.
On why it took the former “Rhythm City” actress this long to get to this milestone, she shared: “‘Kitchen Queen’ was inspired by my surroundings, my family, how I grew up, the role that food played in the family when I grew up, our Sunday get-togethers with extended family and our memorable Christmas lunches.”
She added: “I was never in a rush to write a book but the book has always been in mind. I’ve always known one day I would write a book. I was always surrounded by cookbooks and magazines when I was a kid and I was fascinated by the beautiful food pictures of food. I still have one of my mom’s cookbooks that she owned, which has lots of handwritten notes.”
Mthiyane loves to mix her own spices. Picture: Supplied
In the book, she revisits cherished childhood memories with food,a list of pantry staples, along with recipes for the traditional seven colours meal, desserts, picnic food and salads.
Mthiyane recalled: “As a kid I would just follow my sisters around and observe with keen interest while they prepared food. When I discovered jelly, it was something of a myth and it is still my favourite dessert with peaches and custard. I loved experimenting with dishes that I saw in magazines.”
Having grown up in Durban, Mthiyane is partial to curries, too. In fact, she has several Indian dishes in her book. And her palate gravitates towards more piquant flavours.
She admitted: “To be honest, when a dish does not have a kick for me it’s a bit of a bore. Whenever I went to town with my mother when I was a kid, I would always ask her to buy me those hot oily nuggets (bhajiya); actually, that’s how I started loving heat in my food. Coming from KZN you grow up rating hot food like bunny chows, roti with curry, curry and rice and the likes.”
On what she wanted fans to take away from “Kitchen Queen”, Mthiyane said: “I wanted people to know me and my journey; where I come from, through my food. I have hundreds of recipes but I chose recipes that told a story no matter how delicious the dish is, if it did not have a story it would not make it to the book. The stories were like a golden thread that bound all the recipes together.”
Given the Covid-19 grooming lockdown blues, she also included a few homemade beauty tips.
She offered: “That chapter reflects how I feel about me and food and the fact that we are what we eat. It was a lot of trial and error before I came up with those scrubs. I’m blessed with good skin and I always shy away from buying skin care that is not organic. I actually prefer to mix my own beauty products using ingredients from my pantry.”
As for her signature dish, she smiled: “Definitely, the lamb curry in yoghurt and cream with basmati rice. It’s such a crowd pleaser, it never disappoints.”
Mthiyane’s signature dish is her yogurt and lamb curry, which is in “Kitchen Queen”. Picture: Supplied
Her must-haves in the kitchen include: ghee (or butter), vegetable oil, garlic and ginger masala.
Mthiyane isn’t a stickler for recipes. She loves experimenting in the kitchen.
“I like to pair unlikely ingredients and see what would come out, like adding honey to my curries to sweeten them a bit. Most people who have come to my cooking classes cannot survive in the kitchen without honey,” she added.
While her cookbook has been getting positive reviews, Mthiyane has been frustrated to no end by some of her social media accounts being hacked.
She confirmed: “This hacking came at a very crucial time and it’s making it very hard to connect with my followers. I have started two new pages on Instagram – @kitchen_queen2020 and @_chefluciamthiyane – my Facebook and Twitter remain the same Lucia Mthiyane.”