Sashi Cheliah’s – Top Tips Coping as a Working Parent
Too Tired To Cook?
Here’s How to Cope if you’re a Working Parent;
You’d think that if you’re known for being a renowned cook, that you’d be cooking all the time at home. However, even top foodies run out of time to feed their families with all that they’ve got going on.
MasterChef favourite and previous winner, Sashi Cheliah, is a typically busy dad of two, a restaurateur, entrepreneur and recent contestant on the latest season of MasterChef Australia Fans & Faves. He also heads up his own brand of meal kits, is about to launch a new restaurant in India, and has his first cookbook coming out in August. Whew!
Here Sashi gives us his best time-saving tips and hacks for getting fussy kids to try new things.
Tell us about your meal kit range Sashi’s Secrets what was the inspiration behind it?
After I won MasterChef in 2018 a lot of people wanted to try my food. So, I created Sashi’s Secret meal kits including all the spices in a paste, plus coconut milk, for traditional Singaporean and Malay dishes. I wanted all the flavours to be very authentic, so they don’t contain any preservatives. They’re currently available in Woolworths, but I’ll also be exhibiting the range at the 2022 Naturally Good Expo in Sydney from June 6-7 to interested distributors to get them into more stores.
You say the kits are aimed at time-poor people – why was that important?
Well, the thing about curries is that sometimes they can take a lot of time to prepare and they have a lot of ingredients in them! So, I created something for people wanting an authentic curry such as beef rendang, Malaysian chicken curry, or curry laksa, who don’t have time to go to the shops and buy 16 ingredients, then spend hour or two cooking it up. Time is very crucial at the moment for a lot of families, so any meal hacks you can create that save yourself time in the kitchen will take the stress out of meal prep. All you have to do here is add a protein and some vegies and the dish is ready in under half an hour.
Are any of your curries mild enough for kids?
Yes, they are all pretty mild. However, if you want to take the heat down you can either just add less curry paste or add more coconut cream.
What’s your trick for getting kids to try new foods, particularly if you don’t have time for arguments!
Ha! Well, I think visual presentation crucial. You don’t have to spend ages on presentation, but at least chop things up nicely, and arrange them a bit better on the plate, it only takes a moment. Kids will be more inspired to try something new if they look at the plate and think, ‘wow’.
Also, when you are eating out, choose places where you know the food looks good. That will also expand their horizons.
Any advice for getting kids to try spicy foods?
If your kids haven’t been exposed to much spice before, don’t overwhelm them with heat. You want them to enjoy the flavour without the heat first. You could omit the hottest ingredients first, and then once they are more used to it, slowly introduce the heat in other dishes.
Are your sons Ryan, 14, and Marcus, 16, spice fans?
Oh yes, but we also introduced them to a lot of cuisines and lots of different ingredients and cuts of meat from a very early age onwards.
Ryan was on MasterChef Junior when he was 11 – does he or Marcus want to get into the food business later on?
I’m not sure. Ryan still likes to cook and make cakes, but he’s very much into skateboarding! Marcus loves eating food, but he’s thinking about doing law.
You have a lot going on with all your ventures – how do you and your wife Rabicca juggle everything?
It’s certainly been very busy! I now have two restaurants in Adelaide where I live – Gaja by Sashi and also Gaja Express. However, I’m also about to open a fine dining restaurant in Chennai, India, called The Pandan Club which will feature Peranakan Malay food in July. It’s been challenging to not be there in India during COVID restrictions, and organising it remotely, but thankfully I have a good team in Chennai. I plan to travel there every two to three months initially, and then every six months. I’ve also got a book coming out in August featuring my favourite Singapore street food. Somehow, we all manage, but that’s why meal short-cuts can work so well for us, so we’re still all well fed!
For more tips and easy to grab meals for kids, please follow Sashi on instagram!