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Food & Drinks

Pishi Chef of the Week: Sarah shares her culinary wizardry

Sarah Ijayi Njoroge
Sarah Ijayi Njoroge, a chef by profession. PHOTO | COURTESY 

For many professional chefs, cooking elaborate meals at home is pretty rare.

But when the coronavirus pandemic forced hotels to close, Sarah Ijayi Njoroge found herself with spare time to tinker with different dishes and experiment with new recipes while at home.

“Since most people are at home, I’ve created a YouTube channel (Chef Sarah’s Kitchen) to teach them how to cook and learn more about different cuisines,” she says.

Sarah works as a chef de partie at PrideInn Paradise Beach Resort and Spa. She has also worked at Serena Hotels and Sarova Whitesands.

She is in her 30s and has always loved cooking, so it was a question of when and not if she would start on her journey to become a professional chef.

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“I started loving the kitchen when I was in high school. But I started cooking professionally in 2012,” she says.

She did a diploma in Food and Beverage Management at Ramogi Institute of Advanced Technology in Kisumu. Over the years, she has been sharpening her cooking skills by taking refresher courses at the Kenya Utalii College and from YouTube tutorials.

With more time to spare now, she is active on Instagram where she shares her chicken boerewors, chicken quesadilla, stuffed eggplant aubergine, stuffed capsicum, beef spring rolls, and poached beef olives.

While continental cuisine is her favourite, she loves experimenting with Coastal dishes.

“I love making salads, burgers, Biryani, and sandwiches,” she says. According to Chef Sarah, the first step to making a sumptuous dish is to get prepared psychologically; know what you are going to cook, the ingredients required and the number of people you will serve. She recommends natural spices such as cumin seeds, cardamom, cloves, mixed spices, black peppercorn, and turmeric as the must-have in your kitchen. “Cooking is an art, it has to come from your heart. It is also a learning process. Look for new recipes and try them,” she says.

What constitutes a memorable dish for Sarah? “Chicken and mushroom pizza with lots of cheese. Also Punjab chicken with roti and seafood pasta,” she says.

One of Sarah’s go-to dishes during this time is a Shepherd’s pie, a Mexican dish that everyone in the family can enjoy, and Bombay pizza that reminds her of the first day she met her husband.

2. Bombay Pizza

Ingredients

· Wheat flour 200gm

· Yeast 1tsp

· Warm water 100ml

· Olive oil 30ml

· Capsicums 1

· Onion 1 large

· Tomato 3

· Tomato paste 50gms

· Oregano pinch

· Mozzarella cheese 150gms

· Salt pinch

· Sugar (optional)

Method

· Sieve the flour and mix all the dry ingredients, add olive oil and warm water, and knead to a stiff dough, cover, and set aside to proof.

· Puree the tomato, add olive oil in a hot pan and sauté the onions until they're tender.

· Add tomato paste and tomato puree, let it cook until it is thick then add oregano and season with salt.

· Cut the remainder of the onions capsicum and tomatoes into rings.

· Check your dough, roll it out to a nice circle, sprinkle flour on the baking tray, put the dough on the baking tray, and spread the sauce on it evenly.

· Grate mozzarella cheese on top then season the vegetables that you cut into rings and spread them evenly on top. Sprinkle oregano.

· Bake in a hot oven at 200 degrees; let it cook until the cheese gratinates.

· Serve while hot.

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