MetroPlus remembers its association with Chef Jacob Sahaya Kumar Aruni, who passed away on November 4

Just last week, MetroPlus carried an article on Chef Jacob Sahaya Kumar Aruni. This was not the first time. Before that, in December 2008, we did a cover story on him for our newly-launched Coimbatore MetroPlus Weekend. He was gung ho right through the interview and the photo shoot. It was raining. Still, he posed gamely with a mortar and a pestle, and laughed his way through the session. In between, he debunked the myth that Biriyani was a north Indian dish, spoke of how idlis in the ancient times were made only with urad dal, and that sambar dated back to the 3rd Century.

K. Ananthan, our photographer, remembers: “It was one of the most satisfying shoots I have had. Since the story was largely about his interest in traditional food, I asked him to sit on the floor with the mortar and pestle, and he did, uncomplainingly! We needed more photographs and despite his busy shooting schedule for his television show, he obliged.”

puli rasam

Despite his extensive research in ancient cuisine, Jacob was not averse to experimenting and putting a modern twist to dishes. He invited us for a trial lunch of a new restaurant that he helped open in Coimbatore, called Alapeno. He had ensured the menu card was chock-a-block with dishes, from kung pow kai chicken to Madurai mutton curry. Some of these were tried and tested, and others were rather strange but still innovative (the Harry Potter hot pie that he had made with palm jaggery!).

Chef Jacob has cooked for APJ Abdul Kalam, been a consultant chef for many restaurants and has also been director of the Catering Department at the Sankara College of Science and Commerce, in the city. He had his television show Aha Enna Rusi and held a Guinness Record for the longest barbecue marathon.

Friends of Chef Jacob who always received SMSs for festivals and special occasions will miss hearing from him this Deepavali.

LOVE OF TRADITION

You have to appreciate the young chef for his love of tradition. Chef Jacob was a consultant with the Sri Krishna Sweets’ restaurant Rasam in Chennai. Anything to do with ancient cuisine brought out the best in him. He had ‘kai punyam’. And cooking and serving food was much more to Jacob than just about numbers or profit. He was a wonderful person, creative and enthusiastic. - M. Krishnan Sri Krishna Sweets

REVIVING RECIPES

I remember Chef Jacob’s enthusiasm at the Noyyal Festival a few years ago. The feast he prepared for the Noyyal Virundhu was the crowning glory. I remember how he was full of ideas and raring to go, when we gathered to discuss the feast. His passing away is a big loss. He revived forgotten recipes such as puli rasam and Pallapalayam chicken. He cooked for my son’s wedding too and he did such a good job. I will always remember that - Vanitha Mohan Siruthuli

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