Dani Venn is all smiles… She’s loving motherhood with her two children, daughter Harlow, five, and son Oscar, two, and says she is currently focusing on things that make her happy like listening to songs from musicals and dancing around the lounge with the kids being silly!
But this clever Melbourne mama, who rose to fame coming fourth on MasterChef back in 2011, is doing much more than being silly.
Asked to return on this year’s MasterChef: Back To Win, which saw the best of the best MC alumni return, Dani nailed the opening episode by winning the only immunity pin of the season with her pineapple curry which was voted the best dish of the day by none other than chef-superstar Gordon Ramsay.
And Ramsay wasn’t the only one taking notice. When Coles Product Developer David Robins saw Dani’s ‘A Taste of Sri Lanka’ dish win the coveted immunity pin, he knew they had to work together to bring her special Sri Lankan recipe to Coles customers so they can enjoy what the judges tasted. And so now Dani’s Pineapple Curry simmer sauce has just launched in Coles nationally for everyone to enjoy.
“It was a pinch me moment when the judges and Gordon loved my Taste of Sri Lanka so much. Sri Lanka is a special place to me, I experienced and learnt so much there. It really is an incredible cuisine and I thank all the Sri Lankan people I have met over the years who have shared their knowledge and love of spice with me! When all this is over, please go and visit Sri Lanka, eat the food, experience the incredible warmth of the people there, it is a stunning country and I can not wait to
return one day.”
Dani’s love of food and cooking came from watching her mum work the wok to create delicious meals for the family. Chinese food has influenced Dani’s style of cooking, as her mum’s ancestors were some of the first Chinese settlers in Australia. Several trips to Sri Lanka, including this time last year when she took a small group to Sri Lanka for a wellness retreat, no doubt further influenced her Asian style.
For Dani, the most important part about cooking and life is to embrace it with a whole open heart, know that you are doing your best and you are nourishing yourself and your family along the way no matter what the result. Getting the kids involved in the preparation of meals can also be really rewarding, a little messy even, but it teaches them the foundations of cooking and where food comes from and that my friend will be a treasured skill for life!
Dani’s Chicken & Pineapple Curry
Serves 4 | Prep 5 min | Cook 15 min
I am not really sure this warrants a recipe because it is so darn easy, but sometimes that is exactly what you need in life. Simple, fuss free cooking that you know the kids will eat. When creating the recipe for my Sri Lankan style Pineapple Curry I really had kids and families at the forefront of my mind as I wanted to create a curry product that kids will eat and adults will love too but still retains that unique flavour of Sri Lanka that keeps it interesting and finds you going back for seconds!
I have made sure that it still has the things you look for in a curry, fragrant spices, creamy coconut, a hint of lemongrass and a very mild level of spice which is balanced with the sweetness of the pineapple. Of course you can amp up the flavour with some extra chilli flakes or freshly chopped chilli or a little squeeze of lime if you’re feeling fancy.
I love serving this with some crispy papadums, steamed rice and some fresh coriander too. Of course you can be creative and take my Pineapple Curry and make it your own.
2 tablespoons full flavoured coconut oil
800g free range chicken breast or thighs, diced
1 jar Dani Venn Sri Lankan Style Pineapple Curry (available at Coles)
Serve with rice, papadums and coriander (optional)
Place large saucepan over high heat, add coconut oil. When hot and melted, add chicken and brown on each side until a light golden colour is achieved. Add jar of pineapple curry and stir to combine. Turn heat down to medium and simmer until sauce has thickened for about 5 – 10 minutes. Remove from heat and serve with your choice of steamed rice, papadums and fresh coriander.
Tip: To make the curry hotter add extra dried chilli flakes. I love to serve this curry with some toasted cashew nuts too.
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