Culinary instructor, Self-taught chef
As a child, Ruqxana Vasanwala expressed her love for food by hoarding recipes in a scrapbook. But her lifelong love for cooking only manifested as a career in 2001, when the dotcom bubble burst and ended her online business. Ruqxana took a leap of faith, and embarked on a journey that began in her own kitchen. Thus, Cookery Magic was born.
Since then, the self-taught chef and culinary instructor has helped hundreds of people—hailing from all walks of life—to discover the joys of food. Cookery Magic welcomes visitors with authentic stories about Singapore’s rich culinary traditions and joyous adventures in the realm of food.
To Ruqxana, cooking symbolises an act of love. “Food is love. When you cook for someone, you put so much time and effort into it,” she shares. “It’s definitely a calling. It feels like some magical hand guides me to cook.” Growing up in an ethnically diverse country like Singapore has shaped her belief that food is a medium that connects people. “I grew up in a multi-racial neighbourhood,” she says. “The best part of Singapore is that it’s a melting pot… our food has evolved through our closeness to different cultures… [and] our interactions with our neighbours and friends.”
From the wet markets where she peruses and shops for ingredients to art spaces that inspire her, this is a journey of culinary and cultural heritage.
Fresh ingredients are a must for Ruqxana’s cooking classes, and her hunt for the spices and ingredients used in Malay dishes often brings her to the Geylang Serai Market. “Some of the spices and ingredients for Malay dishes [at Geylang Market] can’t be found anywhere else,” she informs.
Besides being an advocate of traditional cuisine, Ruqxana has a love for art, and counts the National Gallery Singapore and the Singapore Art Museum as places of inspiration. “I’m always hanging around art galleries,” she enthuses. “Besides cooking, my second love is pottery… and art inspires me.”
As a cook influenced by heritage and nostalgia, Ruqxana enjoys exploring Singapore’s many museums. “The Peranakan Museum takes me back to the old days,” she expresses. “[I love it] when you go to a museum, read about different dishes and go ‘I must go home and try this out’.”
"Peranakan" is an Indonesian/Malay word that means “local born”, which generally refers to people of Chinese and Malay/Indonesian heritage.
When she’s not cooking, she turns to places like Joie by Dozo for fuel and inspiration. “You almost don’t want to eat the dishes, because they’re so beautiful,” Ruqxana says, referring to the exquisite presentation of the dishes at this fusion vegetarian restaurant.
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