Administrative executive Arulanathan Balakrishnan is a "big-time carnivore", who makes dishes such as roast chicken rubbed with sumac, za'atar and tom yum paste; and has mutton biryani regularly appearing on his dining table at home.
Then a vegan friend showed up for dinner one day.
The 29-year-old rustled up a chickpea curry for her.
Instead of regular potatoes, he added sweet potatoes to the curry.
He says: "Curries can get rather boring, so having sweet potatoes lends a sweet tone to it."
The dry curry features chickpeas, green peas and sweet potatoes simmered in an aromatic tomato and onion-based sauce that is more sweet than spicy, like a Japanese curry.
Stirring cumin and mustard seeds into the mix accentuates the fragrance of the curry powder and adds depth of flavour.
The rich and velvety curry was such a hit that he started cooking the dish for his family as a side dish.
He cooks two to three times a week and says it is a form of therapy.
"The kitchen is a sacred space where I can forget my stress," says the bachelor, who lives with his parents.
"Playing with ingredients opens up a whole new world of possibilities and gives me a sense of achievement."
The gregarious host also cooks for friends once or twice a month. Hotly requested dishes include laksa, sambal prawns with quail eggs, nasi lemak and hummus jazzed up with rendang and Thai red curry pastes.
One of his earliest memories was being mesmerised watching batter whipped in a cake mixer during his mother's baking sessions.
Later, he was tasked with chopping ingredients and was then taught how to make curries, sambal and biryani.
His mother, 56, is a housewife and his father, 62, is a bus driver. He has an older sister, 37, who is a housewife.
His favourite subject in secondary school was home economics and he learnt to bake carrot cake and shepherd's pie during those classes.
During his free time, he holed up in the school library and scribbled down recipes for chocolate walnut cake, cheese fondue, mushroom pizza and pan-fried potato cakes from cookbooks.
He still refers to these recipes, which he stores in a file.
Besides Western food, Asian flavours also make up a huge chunk of his cooking repertoire.
Thai food is one of his go-to cuisines to cook, with dishes such as tom yum soup, tom kha (spicy and sour coconut chicken soup) and Thai green and red curries.
His interest was piqued after attending a Thai cooking class in Silom Thai Cooking School in Bangkok while on holiday there last year.
"I love that Thai food has a balance of sweet and spicy flavours, with lots of lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves thrown in," he says.
When he visited Ubud in Bali in December last year, he also attended a cooking class and picked up recipes for dishes such as gado gado (Indonesian salad in a chilli peanut sauce), fried tempeh in sweet soya sauce and Balinese- style chicken satay.
He says: "It is amazing to learn about cultural intricacies through food. I enjoy watching how locals eat and live during my travels."
VEGAN CHICKPEA CURRY
2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 medium red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
25g ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
400g canned diced tomatoes
250g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2.5cm by 2.5cm cubes
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