Heather Jansz – The “Curry Diva” of the Twin Cities
A typical stereotype for Minnesotans is that we eat lots of bland and somewhat colorless food. People may think of a cream of mushroom based hot-dish or casserole when they think about a Minnesotan diet. Some may think of lutefisk or lefse as being strong staples here. While Minnesotans can’t argue that those dishes and foods are consumed here, there are also many spicy and colorful foods that are enjoyed to the delight of our taste buds. One Twin Cities cook that has brought some real “kick” to our plates is Heather Jansz, known locally as the “Curry Diva”. In the middle of September, when it generally starts getting cooler in Minnesota, I conducted a Twitterview (Twitter + Interview) with her to learn more about her and find out how she got started in cooking with curry.
Good morning everyone. How about a lot of curry with breakfast? Lets Tweet with the @CurryDiva!
Heather: Yes we believe in waking up with curry at breakfast
To start off with, where did you grow up and when did cooking start as an interest for you?
Heather: Was born and raised in Sri Lanka starteed cooking at a really early age
Just had a passion for it and felt like I needed to share with the rest of the world about Sri Lanka foods
When you activate the senses in the morning your body and soul wakes up
Where/how did you get your training in cooking? What were some of the early dishes that you started to learn?
Heather: Learned most of it from my Mum and just watching the cooking & roasting of spices
Street taught and hands on since I was about 9 yrs old
I remember my Mum teaching me how to make Dhal (Lentils)
Because we were told that equal portions of rice and dhal was a good protein meal
When cooking with curry, are their varying degrees of how hot that it can be? (As in spicy.)
Heather: Yes there is – Curry is mostly a style of cooking not just hot
it is a blend of spices also – but mostly a style of cooking
how spicy is your choice to add on of course I want it the hotter the better
it is additive – this Curry stuff and the activation of the senses through spices
I have a mission now Joel – to bring the flavors of Sri Lanka to the rest of the world
Gotta nourish the body and feel the soul right now and here it is !!
Sri Lankan foods is an un touched jem - http://www.thecurrydiva.com
Are there places people can go to learn about your cooking style with curry?
Heather: Yes cooking classes – Curry Pick up is big now I have a new little spot uptown
- once a month a diva dinner – like a 4 course dinner at this little breakfast place called ‘Our Kitchen”
Highland Grill for curry night every Monday Night
Catering to all events – cooking classes – weddings – special events get on the mailing list
Curry pick up from Our Kitchen also – what you gotta have your fix!!
What would you say are some unique things that you’ve made in cooking with curry? Do you ever experiment?
Heather: Yes I experiment all the time – love taking the basic midwest stuff and adding the curry touch
even the basic pasta with a touch of cardamom and spice does wonder to the body and soul
some of the new wonders have been with cooking with curry spices with Quinoa and Farro YUM!
Each meal is made with all the senses activated – so your body does not lack in anything
making risotto – with my curry sauce and doing it also with Farro or Barley
Activating the oils in the spices is what makes everything work in the body
My basic macaroni & cheese with roasted blend of coriander and garlic is delish – simple
You certainly have a great passion for what you do! So when you’re not cooking, what other things interest you?
Heather: I do little singing concerts with Dean Magraw..sing old standards and some songs in Sinhalese language
but Food over takes everything in my life for the most part
Youtube has most of my singing and cooking videos
Checking out local farmers have been something I love to do as well ‘w/Dinner on the farm
Joel you will have to come to a diva dinner soon and we can show you how the activation works
I see. What are one or 2 tips that you could provide people who are considering cooking with curry for the 1st time?
Heather: Be open and know that it does really satisfy – there is nothing bad in any spice and know that somehow it all works
and the way you feel after a meal that has some of these spices is amazing
I love doing one on one classes – where I teach the basics of cooking with curry spices and activating the oils of all spices
http://www.thecurrydiva.com and get on the mailing list – then you will hear how to at least come and get a taste for it
Also to remember that Curry does not mean spicy – it means excite and interesting and good for you and tasty
Joel: Thanks for your tips and sharing some of your life today on #MNMOtv. Have a great rest of the week Heather! :)