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EXCLUSIVE: In the Kitchen with Kelis

As her new cookbook hits shelves, the colorful singer and trained chef invites us into her kitchen.

Kelis finds the joy in food.

Tell me what music you listen to, what you eat, show me what you’re wearing and I can tell you who you are,” says singer and chef Kelis, 36.

At 17 the New York City native, who was signed to Virgin Records, began her almost 20-year journey of traveling the world performing and experiencing local foods and cultures. “I was in Malaysia once for a few weeks,” she recalls of finding one of her favorite meals. “Every morning I would go to this man’s cart and have the best roti made with condensed milk and curry. He didn’t speak English or have teeth. I would just watch him.”

Her dad is a musician and her mother is a chef, so observing and learning has been Kelis’s way of life. A few years ago she took her love for cooking to new heights and enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school. Since graduating she’s launched Bounty & Full (her line of sauces), manned a food truck and hosted her own Cooking Channel special, Saucy & Sweet. Most days the busy star still cooks dinner alongside her new husband and her son, Knight.

“Making sure the pantry is stocked” is most important, she says from her L.A. home. “If I’m coming from meetings all day, I can grab something from the butcher and go home. I then chop vegetables I already have and throw everything in a skillet with some sauce and we’re good to go.” Kelis shares her favorite global recipes in My Life on a Plate (Kyle). While embracing her domestic side, she remains eclectic. For Knight’s sixth birthday, she gave him a tortoise that can grow to 150 pounds. He named the pet Macaroni, after his favorite dish. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

At 15, Kelis fell in love with this Malaysian dish she ate at a New York City restaurant.


Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 15 to 20 minutes

3 rib-eye steaks, frozen, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

3 teaspoons black pepper

2 tablespoons unsalted butter or ghee

1 tablespoon chile oil

1/2 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped

1 pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch-thick chunks

1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 cup pineapple juice

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

2 cups sugar snap peas or snow peas, strings removed

4 spring onions or scallions, thinly sliced on the bias (white and green parts)

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Season the steaks with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper, then set aside. Melt the butter with the chile oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and the remaining salt and pepper, then sauté, stirring often, until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Toss in the pineapple, bell pepper, ginger, garlic, cumin and curry powder, and cook for about 5 minutes, until the bell peppers soften. Stir in the pineapple juice, soy sauce and sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 2 minutes to thicken the sauce. Increase the heat to high, add the steak and cook for about 1 minute. Stir in the peas and scallions, and cook for about 2 minutes to ensure they are warmed through and softened. Turn off the heat and stir in the cilantro. Serve with white or brown rice.