Celebrity Chow with local comedienne-actress Haryani Othman

Celebrity Chow with local comedienne-actress Haryani Othman

She might cut a larger-than-life figure on television and on stage.

However, Haryani Othman is anything but intimidating in person.

Over dinner at breez bistro at Grand Mercure Roxy Singapore on Monday, the 36-year-old local comedienne-actress struck M as warm, energetic and bubbly.

Haryani, known as Hani to fans, was waxing lyrical about her love for cooking and talked about her biggest weight loss endeavour.

"I lost 18kg in six months when I did a web reality slimming series in 2013," she said.

"It was a great experience. I learnt how to eat cleanly, control my food portions and work out in the gym. I felt lighter and happier.

"But there were 'painful' moments. During Hari Raya that year, I didn't eat a single ketupat. Everyone else was enjoying ketupat while I ate brown bread. "It took a lot of determination on my part."

Yakult Klinik Kita: Edisi Makeover, a three-episode web-based reality show, followed Haryani, former news reader Rita Zahara and chef Amri Azim in their efforts to shed the kilos.

Haryani, who is married with no children, was 168kg when she joined the series.

"Now I'm 152.5kg. I guess I've built more muscle mass," said the entertainer, as she tucked into beef medallion, king prawns with cheese fondue and tom yam spaghetti.

Fans can catch Haryani in the comedy sketch show Kelas Kekek, also starring Suhaimi Yusof and Huda Ali, every Tuesday at 8.30pm on Suria.

Had you tried losing weight before joining Yakult Klinik Kita: Edisi Makeover?

Yes, in the past, I tried to hit the gym, but I was not exercising correctly. I don't do slimming drugs or herbs. I'm quite wary of those.

Growing up, did you struggle with the need to conform to society's "ideal" body image?

During my teenage years, when my friends were around 40kg, I was already hovering between 60kg and 80kg.

But it wasn't a problem for me.

I never had insecurities about my body, as my parents are extremely loving and supportive.

Despite my size, I was a very good dancer in school, excelling in Malay dance and jazz.

My husband of four years is an amazing man. He's much thinner than I am, but he loves me for who I am. I've never had to feel I'm less of a woman just because I'm plus-size.

Are you a foodie? Where do you and your family go for a nice meal?

Of course I'm a foodie. I even look like one! On my dad's birthday, we'd go to Chai Chee Seafood. My dad loves the food there.

For simple fare, I'd go to Changi Village, Bedok or Geylang. I also like Indian food a lot.

My husband and I like to try out different buffets, where we'd eat very slowly and have long conversations. Some of our favourites include Carousel at Royal Plaza on Scotts and StraitsKitchen at Grand Hyatt Singapore.

Do you have any signature dishes?

I cook very well, especially Malay dishes and Hari Raya dishes like rendang and sambal chicken. I can also make traditional Malay kueh, bread and dessert.

Once, my husband e-mailed me the recipes for ikan tiga rasa (Malay for grouper in three flavours) and chicken briyani, thinking I didn't know how to do them.

I was, like, "Hello mister, I know how to cook these."

I just didn't want to bring them all out at one shot. Men, you can't pamper them too much.

I learnt cooking from my mum, whom I've been helping in the kitchen since I was seven. She was a tyrant.

She'd shout at me, "Four onions, three garlics, chop." If I asked questions, she'd snap, "Use your brain."

She has a motor mouth, but we are the best of friends.

I scored A2 in Food and Nutrition at the O levels.

Any memorable overseas food encounters?

Last year, my husband and I were in San Francisco and there was a Pakistani halal restaurant at Union Square.

It looked rundown and uninviting, but the food was so good we ended up eating there three nights in a row. We even had it delivered to our hotel room.

This article was first published on January 7, 2015.
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