Chilli Chicken by Chef Peter Karanja Mwaura, H&S Chef Of The Month
H&S Chef Of The Month
Interview With H&S Magazine
Who Is Peter Karanja Mwaura?
I am a Kenyan-born chef who is very passionate about food and the impact it has on the society. I pursued a diploma in culinary arts at Cascade Institute Of Hospitality and since then I knew this was for me. I was born in central Kenya, a place called Githumu, & I am a firstborn in a family of two.
Type Of Cuisine?
As a chef, you got to equip yourself with as many skills as you can. I have specialized in BBQ and Indian cuisine. I fell in love with Indian cuisine because it’s a whole world of spices and flavours, the techniques in this cuisine are fascinating, and you can always have some fun while working. On the other hand, I am a meat lover and this pulled me to learn and specialize in barbecue.
What Inspired You To Become A Chef?
I see cooking as a calling, and I am living my purpose in life as everything I do revolves around food. My inspiration to become a chef has always come from my parents, from whom I learnt the basics of the kitchen at a tender age. My dad, Mathew Mwaura is a butcher by profession, and so I have always worked close to him in the butchery since I was young hence developing my love for meat. My mum, Rasbo Halima loves baking, so I’ve always had the chance to taste the goodies she baked during the weekends, ever since I was a kid. All this influenced my decision to become a professional chef, since my world revolved around food every day.
What Is The Biggest Challenge You Have Faced In The Culinary Industry?
There are many challenges in this demanding industry. At one time I did an interview in a hotel establishment and despite the fact that I passed the practical interview, the head chef called me in his office and told me I was very young to get such a high salary the company was offering. At the end I went home devastated and without a job only because of my age at that time.
What’s Your Biggest Achievement In The Culinary Industry?
I have had a great career path so far with notable achievements from featuring on various cook shows with different local television stations, to being featured by Meet The Chef magazine in Ghana. I was also the president of the student council during my time in culinary school. I have also had the privilege of being featured on Business Daily Africa newspaper in their segment Pishi Home Chef Of The Week. However, my biggest highlight was winning the Youngest Chef Of The Year East Africa award during the Annual Regional Chefs Conference 2021.
When It comes To Cooking, What Is More Important To You, The Technique, The Ingredients Or The Creativity?
Every great chef must be a technician with an artistic mind, you have to think like an artist hence be creative since cooking is an art. Quality ingredients will always give quality dishes, and so the chef must treat ingredients with respect when in the kitchen. When technique, creativity and quality ingredients are put on a dish, then the outcome is pleasing to both, the eye and the palate.
Recipe Of The Week: Chilli Chicken
For The Chilli Chicken
• 2 chicken breast (cubed)
• 1 Tbsp cornflour
• 1 Tsp black pepper
• 2 Tbsp soy sauce
• 3 Tbsp chilli sauce
• 2 Tbsp tomato ketchup
• 2 Tbsp vinegar
• 10gm Kashmiri red chilli powder
• A pinch of rock salt
• 3 medium-sized green chillies
• 1 Tsp sugar
• 3 whole mixed bell peppers (cubed)
• 2 large red onions (cubed)
• 1 Tbsp ginger (strips)
• 4 cloves garlic (strips)
• 2 Tbsp water
Marinate your chicken with soy sauce, chilli powder, black pepper powder, 2tbsp chilli sauce and chill for an hour in the refrigerator. After an hour, dust your chicken with cornstarch, then deep-fry. For a crispier taste, put in a 180C preheated oven after deep-frying, for about 10 mins. In a separate bowl mix tomato ketchup, 1tbsp chilli sauce, white vinegar, sugar, water and salt. In a pan heat the cooking oil and then sauté the ginger and garlic strips then add your cubed bell peppers, onions and chopped green chillies. Sauté for a minute, then add the already mixed sauce prepared above. Simmer till the sauce bubbles and starts to thicken, then toss in your chicken cubes & coat with the sauce.
Serve hot with garlic fries.