Who's Cooking: Sabrina Caliendo
A chiropractor, she lives in St. James with her husband, Anthony, who is also a chiropractor. They have two daughters, ages 1 and 3.
You have a decidedly British accent. What is your background?
I grew up in England, but my family is Mauritian, from Mauritius, a small island in the Indian Ocean that's actually part of Africa. Mauritius is a big melting pot that includes influences from China, India and Africa. The place was a French and a Dutch colony, so there's a real mixture there.
Who was your greatest cooking inspiration?
My mom -- who is still in England -- because she could cook just about anything. Her chicken curry is to die for. Her roti and Mauritian-style biryani are amazing. And she made really good snacks -- fried bread in batter, pickles and chili sauce.
What are some of your earliest memories of cooking with her?
I was little and I stood on a chair in the kitchen next to her, looking over and helping her. She didn't formally teach me; I was just around her.
Any other influences?
Because chiropractic is my profession, I use natural organic food. I'm a gluten-free cook and deviate from the Mauritian stuff to convert recipes into healthier versions. And I'm married to an Italian, with a mom who is an amazing cook. So now I get a little influence from her, too.
Is there a Mauritian specialty you regularly cook for your family?
A vegetable salad that doesn't have a special Mauritian name -- but we all make it. It's nice and easy, tasty, nutritious and colorful.
If you had to whip up dinner from whatever is at hand, what would you make?
Yesterday I didn't know what to make and had 10 minutes. So I made rice and lentils and a mixed vegetable curry. The night before, I made vegan mac and cheese, and the night before that, fish curry, and before that, pasta.
TYPICAL MAURITIAN SALAD
3 large carrots
2 large beets
3 large potatoes
3 large eggs
1 small white onion, thinly sliced
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 shallot, finely chopped
1. Boil carrots, beets, potatoes and eggs until the vegetables are just cooked and the eggs are hard-boiled, about 15 minutes. Drain.
2. Wait until they are cool and then peel all the vegetables and the eggs, cut them into thin slices and place in a large salad bowl.
3. Add sliced onion.
4. In a separate bowl, mix olive oil, white wine vinegar and salt and pepper to taste
5. Pour the dressing over the vegetable and egg mixture and mix well. Add chopped shallots and toss again. Serve with bread or as a side dish. Makes about 6 servings