Malaysian celebrity chef Ili Sulaiman is a household name in the industry, well-known for her own cooking shows on the Asian Food Network channel. Born to an English-Chinese mother and a Sri Lankan-Malay father, she started cooking at a very young age. “Food has been the consistent thing for me since I was young. I was always in the kitchen with my grandmothers,” said Ili.
During the pandemic lockdowns, Ili truly misses her family steamboat sessions at home. Encouraged by two friends and with months of recipe testing and building the business plan, Ili Pot was born: a Halal, Grill and Steamboat Delivery Service. Here, Ili shares the inspirations behind her brands and her take on our eating rituals post-pandemic:
Can you share how Dish by Ili has evolved over the years?
We started off just by delivering home-cooked dishes in tiffin carriers back in 2014. Since then, it evolved into a sort of food agency that hosts food shoots, food styling, video creation.
Dish by Ili now functions as an online portal collecting and sharing recipes. A personal library of tips and tricks, cooking hacks as well as an archive of recipes. Our visuals, our colour palette is warm and approachable yet emphasizing on the food we are championing. We want it to reflect everything Malaysian. We also love playing and finding inspiration from local elements like old school kuih, kopitiam styles and things that are nostalgic!
What are you most excited about for Ili Pot Delivery?
I am just excited about people unboxing our Ili Pot Steamboat or Grill sets. We give them the whole ‘Ili is making this specially for you’ experience from the way we designed the website, right to the delivery of the bag. It is as if I were to host a steamboat or BBQ grill party in your home. And of course, this is the first time I get to express and have fun with flavours.
Any cooking tips to share for a good experience?
The soups, grill and marinades draws inspiration from the Asian hotpot and soups with a Malaysian twist. With a good steamboat, always wait for the soup to bubble before adding your meats and vegetables and the best part of the whole steamboat experience is the soup at the end because it is packed full of flavour. This is probably also the best time to add your noodles so you can enjoy the thickened broth!
For the grill, add your meat and vegetables before adding your margarine so you get that rich Malaysian tasting goodness. Just have fun throughout the whole process. The best thing about this is to experiment.
What are your thoughts on the word ‘authenticity’ in the context of food?
Authenticity when it comes to food means to be true to who you are and to champion the flavours in the food that evoke happiness. With Ili Pot, I wanted to celebrate steamboat as how we Malaysians enjoy it. We can add whatever flavours we like to make it ours.
An example will be how we love our chili and when we travel we always bring a type of sambal or I even know people who bring ‘chili padi’ to restaurants. So, here at Ili Pot we are celebrating that authenticity. It is authentic because it’s familiar and it’s fun!
How has Covid-19 shifted the way we eat and is delivery here to stay?
I think this will be our new norm and I feel so proud that Malaysians are really taking the initiative to be more responsible and practising social distancing to protect ourselves. I find it so amazing that people are cooking more at home but also understand that this could be difficult to do every day, especially if you are working from home, with kids, a husband, and having to do house chores and to cook 3 meals a day.
Ili Pot was born during MCO. It was so important for me to create something that would really do the following:
- Ensure that everything from the ordering to the delivery process would take less than 1 hour, set up will take about 10 minutes, and clean up will take less than 5 minutes (because we provide EVERYTHING, even a lighter)
- Make you feel excited about dining in the comforts of your own home. Since we’d rather not go out!
- Feed your entire family a delicious meal and be present to enjoy it together
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Ili Pot delivers everything you need from their kitchen to your doorstep, within an hour. Pot, grill, burner, cutleries, bowls, table cover, soup, sauces, and all the ingredients! (even the lighter!)
Choose from 5 soup flavours: Saranghae Jjigae, Mi So Spicy, Chanko Nabe (Non-Spicy), Creamy Chicken and Garlic (Non-Spicy), and Thom Yum. You have 4 choices of marinades: Teriyaki (Non-Spicy), Spicy Korean, Thai BBQ, and House Special. And 2 special dipping sauces with an option to purchase her Signature Chili Oil. Full menu offerings here.