By SHIV DAS
Go To any event and it’s what you take away from it that provides definition…the messages, thought provoking or otherwise, the people present and even atmosphere, whether stiff or relaxed.
In this particular case, the message was about healthy food, life’s very foundation. Serious as that is, the gathering to witness the launch of a handy eight-book series was fittingly informal. It had to be, because children were involved and the adults who were present were mostly parents, friends and book industry people coming together for a morning of supportive conviviality.
The books have an intriguing title — Hayley’s Happylicious Series.
Happylicious…now that’s a double whammy word coined from, you’ve guessed it, happy and delicious.
The series is targeted at children and with an underlying message for parents to ensure children eat right to stay healthy. It meant being savvy about nature’s gifts out there and coming up with recipes and presentation for taste and nutrition and making partaking a joy.
All of which is entirely in the realm of Mohana Gill, who’s become an international award winning author with her cookbooks that have done Malaysia proud and which have been given due recognition at the Frankfurt Book Fair in recent years.
Her first book Fruitastic won an award in 2005 at the fair and it was again recognised as the Best of the Best 10 years later. Stemming from the two, came Hayley’s Fruitastic Garden and Hayley’s Vegemania Garden.
Happylicious won the Best in the World, Gourmand Cookbook Award last year and is the forerunner of her new series, her latest offering which comes in eight parts, focusing on fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, pulses, grain, chocolate and even tea.
For Gill, the added joy is that the book series has won the Anugerah Buku Negara 2017, a recognition at home she had long hoped for.
Happylicious is a journey of discovery, simple, yet pointed and enhanced by legend, history and simple recipes children can experiment with. Putting the fun in learning for the whole family is accomplished.
The book launch recently at Tuanku Bainun Children’s Creative Centre in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, came with, one might say, the fairy-tale touch of a real princess, Raja Datuk Seri Eleena Sultan Azlan Muhibudin Shah Al-Maghfur-Lah, who did the honours.
She referred to the author endearingly as Aunty Mohana and praised her for her work in promoting whole-some food for the young and, one might add, the old alike.
She saw parent-children bonding arising as they spent time together, shopping for ingredients and spending time together in the kitchen, preparing hearty meals.
The books are Malaysia’s gift to the world, she added.
Gill, in her address, thanked a whole lot of people who had helped in one way or another in coming up with her labour of love. She announced that RM1 of every book sold would go to the Spastic Children’s Association of Selangor.
Even Chef Wan, Malaysia’s own cooking icon, got in on the act with a message of praise and endorsement via video at the start of the event.
CEO Sayed Munawar Sayed Mohd Mustar of Perbadanan Kota Buku the government-linked corporation that acts as a nucleus to enhance the country’s book industry) heaped praise on Gill for putting Malaysia on the literary map. The books are to be translated into Bahasa Malaysia for maximum impact.
They books were a legacy that Gill could be proud of, he said.
The Happylicious recipes came to life at the end of the ceremony with guests getting to taste the specially prepared variety prepared by Chef Elena Mokhtar and put on by Puan Sri Dr Suriana Hanur Harith of Culinary Brilliance Sdn Bhd.
A wholesome get-together it was, in every sense of the word.