It hit lunch o’clock and we made our way to Jasmine Macharia’s food studio along Westlands Road, tucked between tall buildings in an area where skyscrapers are fast being birthed. In a few minutes, the owner of Cooking with Jaz culinary blog arrived and led us up to her premises, her assistants Eve and Yvonne in tow. Here is where all the action takes place, from her cooking classes to preparing orders.
We are to make barbeque meatballs. “The meatballs are what most people order, and are also simple to prepare,” a bubbly Jasmine tells us after offering us seats. Last month, she bagged two awards at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2018. “We were third in the African Cuisine category and third in the Best Authors and Chefs category. I was stoked!” the author admits.
After washing her hands, Jasmine invites us to her working space as she lays down the ingredients. Before preparing the meatballs, the food blogger makes barbeque sauce from scratch. “It is easy. You only need ketchup, vinegar and brown sugar. Heat it together till it starts to boil, and that’s it,” she says, demonstrating the process in less than three minutes.
Swiftly, she dices an onion and garlic and adds them to the bowl with the minced beef. “Before I decided to follow my passion, I worked on Kirinyaga Road selling spare parts, even after coming back from Spain, where I attended a culinary school. I thought I would do the job for a few months, but it took me two years to resign,” she recalls. It was while working at the spare parts shop that she wrote her cookbook, Breakfast with the King, which she launched last year in February.
“I was determined to follow my passion and do business, and God came through for my husband. We pulled through; I got a place and sold all my cookbook copies, and I stuck with it!” she shares while mixing up the minced meat to make the meatballs with seasonings; onions, garlic, salt, black pepper, paprika, bread crumbs, cooking cream (as a substitute for eggs) and Worcestershire sauce.
“Barbeque meatballs are really good, especially if you are going to host friends during the World Cup,” the gourmet specialist tips. “The tedious part is rolling the meat into balls. Whoever falls for that duty will have quite a day,” she laughs. Next, she lays the balls on a greased baking tray and evenly pours the barbeque sauce on them, then sets the dish in the oven.
Twenty-five minutes, 180 degrees later, the meatballs are good to go. She serves them with slices of baguette, held together on toothpicks, alongside black tea.