Forty-year-old Lamy Maalouf, a Dubai-based expatriate from the Caribbean country of Saint Kitts and Nevis, never liked cooking or baking. However, she was quite surprised when her five-year-old daughter Lamissa, picked up the skill during the pandemic, which resulted in movement restrictions back in 2020. “It was something that fascinated her so much – baking and cooking – anything that involves using her hands, instantly has her attention,” said Maalouf, in conversation with Gulf News Food.
Lamissa started cooking and baking at the age of three. Today, the student of Dubai Heights Academy has taken her passion for food up a notch, and started a social media page called @lamissa_world, where she teaches her followers how to cook and bake.
The social media star has over 40,000 followers across social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, YouTube and Facebook, collectively. “We started by recording home videos of her in the kitchen, where she would mix or knead ingredients, and we post these on social media. Seeing how much people liked it, we decided to start an exclusive page in 2020,” said Maalouf, who works as the executive director of an event management company in Dubai.
But, what inspired the little home chef?
Lyn, Lamissa’s nanny whom she calls ‘yaya’ was the reason behind Lamissa’s love for cooking and baking. Maalouf, who is a single mum, said: “She used to watch Lyn cook and bake while I was away at work, and she has loved it ever since then. Together, they used to try new recipes and then Lamissa learnt how to combine ingredients without any help. I think the very first thing she made was chocolate muffins, because she loves chocolate. We were there to help her out, but she did 90 per cent of it on her own.”
While it is wonderful that this tiny tot has managed to grab a lot of attention with her natural talent, Maalouf believes it’s brought in more than just tasty food. “She loves being in the kitchen. It also taught her responsibility when she managed things on her own. She loves the fact that she can use all of her senses while making something for us. She wants to touch dough, taste every ingredient before baking, and loves the aromas that come from food.”
Maalouf also credits the success her daughter has today to the power of food, especially because food triggers Lamissa’s curiosity. “She loves food and she has loved it ever since she could eat it. Like I said, it started with chocolate muffins, but she makes cakes, pasta, pizza, sushi and even keto-based dishes – keto is just for me because I am on the diet – all of it under observation, of course. She is very passionate and I still can’t believe that she learns it so quickly.”
Baking can be different when at home, and when being filmed. However, Maalouf said Lamissa never had a speck of nervousness and loves being on camera….
Lights, camera, action!
“The videos are usually taken by either my friend or myself, so she is comfortable; and Lyn is also there. We record two videos in a day, during the weekend. Initially, we used to tell her what to say and things like that, but she’s grown into it, she knows what to say, how to start, and usually speaks her mind. She also has her signature line now ‘yummy in my tummy’ which she started saying on her own.”
However, Maalouf believes that the videos are made not to just showcase her daughter’s skills, but also to encourage other children to try how exciting and fun cooking or baking can be. “It’s important for children to know their food when they are small. So, we hope Lamissa can show children what’s possible with food, be it just with two or three ingredients.”
The way forward
Keeping all of the responses, encouragement and feedback from the videos in mind, Maalouf has decided to illustrate and animate Lamissa’s World, so that it becomes easier for children to learn and also be entertained at the same time. “It would be edutainment. We’re hoping to take Lamissa’s World and animate it so that children can easily understand what we’re trying to say. We want to educate them about the role of food, where it comes from, stories around it, recipes and so on. So, one episode would be about pasta, another about sushi, and more. We manage the page now, but once she’s older, she can manage it on her own.”
Are you curious to know what Lamissa’s baking or cooking in her world of food? We caught a glimpse of it – here are two easy recipes you can try at home.
Banana and peanut butter muffins
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6 to 10 muffins
1 ½ cups peanut butter
½ cup cocoa powder
½ cup blueberries
1 tsp butter
You will also need:
1. Peel the bananas and add it to a bowl. Mash well.
2. Next, add the peanut butter and mix it with the mashed bananas.
3. Separate the mix in equal portions, into two bowls.
4. To one bowl, add the cocoa powder and to the other, blueberries.
5. Grease two muffin trays with butter and using a ladle, pour the cocoa mix and blueberry mix in each tray.
6. Lightly tap the trays to remove any air bubbles, and bake your muffins for 30 minutes at 180C.
7. Once baked, allow it to cool. Serve and enjoy!
15-minute Japanese vegetable sushi recipe
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Serves: 6 to 8
1 cup rice
1 carrot, cut into sticks
1 cucumber, cut into sticks
1 avocado, thinly sliced
3 Japanese nori sheets
1 tbsp vinegar
You will also need:
A sushi bamboo mat
1. Wash the rice thoroughly until the water runs clear. Soak the rice for 15 minutes, and then cook until well done. Add vinegar to the rice.
2. On a sushi bamboo mat, place a sheet of nori. Using a spoon, take a few spoons of rice and spread it evenly on the sheet.
3. Next place the carrot and cucumber sticks, along with avocado slices on top of the rice.
4. Roll the sushi tightly with the bamboo mat. Once sealed, remove the mat from the base and place it on top.
5. Slice the sushi into small pieces using a knife. Serve and enjoy!
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