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At Home With Anita Kapoor

Anita Kapoor knows what's up. The travel show host, emcee and activist has an answer ready for all my questions—and they're never cavalier, always mindful, and just slightly intimidating in their frankness.

By Weets Goh | 12 July, 2017 | At Home With, People
2017-07-12 17:20:19 2017-10-10 14:29:38
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Home’s an apartment in the East, slightly old, but spacious, breezy and bathed in sunlight. There’s a view of the sea, some very comfortable-looking wooden furniture, and a rack of books that has everything from a tattered and quite-possibly ancient copy of Ben-hur to a much newer Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s exactly the kind of space you’d imagine Kapoor inhabiting.

Hi Anita! This is a very broad question but: what’s your relationship with food?

Everything! I grew up in a family where everything was resolved with food. Even if there was conflict or trouble, there would always be food on the table. Whenever there was a family gathering, or if we had family friends over, we would always end up together in the kitchen. If guests came, the first thing they would be given was a drink or some food. So I grew up as an apprentice in the kitchen, to my mother and grandmother. I would say that my relationship with food is both visceral and light, and there’s some very deep loving associated with food. To me, food is your heart, it’s life.

As a third culture kid myself, I feel like when you go to new places, or are put in a new culture, you do all these little things to fit in, and one of those things is to eat. When you eat widely, you take the opportunity to explore.

So do you cook a lot yourself now?

Yes, in fact all of us (Kapoor lives with two other housemates) cook, so the kitchen is always filled. I actually wanted to be a chef when I was young, and I got a job on the cold station at the old Mövenpick at Scotts Shopping Centre, which is now Scotts Square. My job was to prepare the cold dishes, and I would have to chop vegetables for the salads, that kind of thing.

You’ve visited plenty of countries whole hosting travel shows, what’s your most memorable food experience?

There are three cities where I’m particularly greedy: Bangkok, Mumbai and Hong Kong. I recently had a wanton in a Hotel in Hong Kong— it wasn’t even a place specialising in the dish—and it was already the most perfect wanton I’ve ever had. But I’ll have to say that one of my best experiences was in Mumbai. One of my housemate is from there, and her dad brought me to this place near Haji Ali, at some back alley, and we had this BBQ chicken that was marinated in a chutney so it was green, and it was just amazing. They also did a very good goat’s brain, where they chop it up and fry it with spices.

What are some of your favourite places in Singapore to grab a bite?

I love heading down to The LoKal on Neil Road for breakfast or brunch, they’ve got an Australian chef (Darren Farr) that does some very good food. Other than that, I love going down to Tekka for some breakfast thosai—which is softer and more flavourful than the crispy, ghee-soaked ones you usually find—and to explore the markets. Founder Bak Kut Teh is also great for late-night eating. I don’t usually eat supper, so it is more like a treat for me.

Anita’s Cucumber Soup

Serves 2 as a main, or 4 as a starter

This easy recipe is perfect for the balmy Singaporean weather, especially when you want something light. Kapoor leaves some of the roots on the coriander to add extra complexity to the dish. You can substitute coriander with your favourite combination of fresh, green herbs; dill works particularly well.

You will need:

4 medium cucumbers (the local kind)
2 heaping tablespoons of Greek yogurt
1 small bunch of fresh coriander with 2cm of its roots left on
¼ tps crushed garlic
2 tbps extra virgin olive oil
lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

  • To remove the bitterness from the cucumbers, cut a small piece off an end of the cucumber, and rub it with a circular motion against the exposed flesh until a white foam appears, continue until no more foam forms. Repeat with the other end of the cucumber.
  • Chop the cucumber into 2-inch pieces and combine with all the the other ingredients in a blender. Blend until you get a smooth, soupy consistency.
  • Pour into chilled (optional) bowls or a glass, drizzle on some extra EVOO and garnish with extra herbs.

Photos: Desmond Lim

Before writing about food, Weets wrote about music, and is still waiting patiently for the day he spontaneously develops synaesthesia so he can reconcile the two.