Ayesha Curry, Rahanna Bisseret Martinez and Illyanna Maisonet Share Recipes Inspired By Women They Love​

Women’s History Month is abundant with opportunities to praise the women who have played crucial roles in shaping history. But what about the heroes specific to our individual stories? To help honor the month-long celebration, Sweet July spoke to three chefs—including our very own founder—who share recipes inspired by the women who have influenced them the most.
Ayesha’s Brown Sugar Chicken

On the woman who inspired the recipe:

“One of my all-time favorite recipes is brown sugar chicken. And it just so happened to be developed by my mom, Carol. Growing up, she would make this in big vats because everybody would show up when they knew she was making it. It was one of those comfort food recipes that you just couldn’t get enough of. We would even take it as far as to freeze the sauce so that we could pretty much put it on anything at a moment’s notice.”

On why Ayesha admires this woman:

“I’m constantly inspired by my mom. She’s full of grace and resilience and tenacity, and she is just the epitome of a hard working woman. I am so grateful for her. I’m also grateful for the fact that anytime she comes to visit me, she still makes that brown sugar chicken.”

Photo: Victoria Pearson

Brown Sugar Chicken
Serves 4 people


  • 4 chicken quarters 
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • Sliced scallions, garnish
  • Toasted sesame seeds, garnish


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add butter and olive oil. Generously season chicken with salt and pepper, then add to pot and sear on each side for about 2 minutes until golden brown. Remove chicken to a plate and reduce heat to medium.
  • Add in the onion and season with salt and pepper. Sauté for a few minutes until softened, then add the garlic and cook for a minute more. Deglaze the pot with chicken stock, scraping down all of the sides to get all the delicious seasonings and flavors into the broth.
  • Stir in the soy sauce, brown sugar and fresh ginger, and heat until it reaches a gentle simmer. Add the chicken back into the pot, place the lid on and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 30 minutes until chicken is cooked through and falls apart tender.
  • Garnish with sliced scallions and toasted sesame seeds.  
Courtesy of Illyanna Maisonet

Illyanna Maisonet’s Arroz Chino Boricua

On the woman who inspired the recipe:


“My mom would go to Puerto Rico, and every time she would come back, she would always talk about the Chinese food there. When we got to the point of my career where I could afford to take us there together, one thing that she always really wanted to do is eat Chinese food together. And that’s what we did. I haven’t personally seen anybody talk about the Chinese diaspora inside of Puerto Rico.”


On learning more about her mom (and family) through her cookbook: 


“My mom is always involved in whatever I’m involved in—I’m an only child and she’s a single parent, and yeah, there’s boundaries as far as daughter and mother, but we’re also like sisters; we’re best friends because we’re literally all we have.


I also think the whole process [for my cookbook] started with me trying to document my grandma’s recipes and her journey. Through starting to write this book as an homage to my grandma, it became way more than I anticipated—it became my grief journey because I started it maybe a couple of months before she died. And through trying to learn more about my grandma, I also learned way more about my mom. I didn’t anticipate either of those things.”


On what Illyanna’s currently got going on:


A new line of spice blends with Burlap & Barrel.


Illyanna Maisonet's Arroz Chino Boricua

Reprinted with permission from Diasporican: A Puerto Rican Cookbook by Illyanna Maisonet copyright ©2022. Puerto Rico location photographs by Erika P. Rodriguez. California location and food photographs copyright © 2022 by Dan Liberti. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Serves 4


1 tbsp canola oil

1 small yellow onion, diced

1 cup chopped jamonilla (such as Spam)

1 lb 16/20-count shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 scallions, chopped

2 tbsp sofrito

2 eggs, beaten

2 cups Basic White Rice

1/4 cup soy sauce


  1. Add the canola oil to a sauté pan and place over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until translucent. Add the jamonilla and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, or until browned, then stir to mix well.

  2. Add the shrimp to the pan and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, or until just pink, then add the scallions and sofrito and mix to combine. Add the eggs, let settle for 1 minute, and then scramble them in the pan for about 3 minutes. Add the rice, stir in the soy sauce, and keep the mixture moving for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the shrimp are thoroughly cooked.

  3. Serve the rice hot.

Rahanna Bisseret Martinez’s Farmers Market Carbonara

On the woman who inspired the recipe:


“Growing up in the Bay Area, I always would go to farmers markets with my mom and my three sisters. It’s just something that we all did together to bond, and I associate it with a lot of sweet memories. Something that my mom always did is she’d let us take out anything that looked interesting to use for our meals for that week. And so this carbonara recipe really came about from the fresh edible flowers and ripe eggplants and different vegetables that were in season. Although it’s very traditional to do a carbonara without eggplant, I feel like the lessons that I learned from my mom really introduced me to experimenting with dishes and making modifications.”

On how she has influenced Rahanna’s culinary journey:

“My mom is a botanist. So I grew up knowing a lot about plants, especially their medicinal uses and different ways to eat certain things. That definitely influenced my cooking. She’s also Mexican and Haitian, and that culture definitely influences the way I cook and the way that I share food with other people. My mom has definitely inspired me through her love for nature and her love for our culture.”

On what Rahanna’s currently got going on:

Her first cookbook, Flavor+Us, releasing on May 16.

Photo: Ed Anderson

Photo: Ed Anderson. Styled by Lilian Kang.

Rahanna Bisseret Martinez's Farmer's Market Carbonara

Serves 4 people


  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for topping
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Chinese eggplant or 1/2 globe eggplant (about 9 ounces)
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup neutral oil, such as avocado or grapeseed, plus more as needed
  • Sea salt
  • 12 oz fresh spaghetti or other fresh pasta
  • Edible blossoms or flowers for serving (optional)


  • Fill a stockpot with enough salted water to cover the pasta and bring to a boil. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, 1/2 cup of Pecorino Romano and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Set this to the side.
  • In a large bowl, combine the cornstarch and set aside. On a cut­ting board, peel the eggplant. If you’re using a Chinese eggplant, cut it crosswise into 1/4 ­inch­ thick medallions, lay them flat, then cut those medallions into quarter circles. If you’re using a globe eggplant, cut it into medallions, then into sixths, by halving and then cutting each half into three wedges. In a bowl, toss the egg­plant pieces with the flour and cornstarch until evenly coated.
  • Line a large plate with paper towels. In a sauté pan, heat the oil over high heat. Tilt the pan gently to see if the oil shimmers and makes streaks; if so, it’s ready to use. Lower the heat to medium and add in half the eggplant, making sure the pieces don’t over­lap. Let the eggplant fry undisturbed for 2 minutes. With a pair of tongs, carefully loosen the eggplant and turn to coat all sides with the oil. Fry for another 2 to 3 minutes until the eggplant is crispy and golden brown. Some pieces might require more time in the pan than others. Transfer to the paper towel–lined plate and sprinkle with salt. Repeat this step with the remaining eggplant, adding a little more oil to the pan if it looks dry.
  • Once your eggplant is done, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until tender but with a bit of a bite. Drain the pasta and place it in a large bowl. With a pair of cook­ing chopsticks or a spoon, vigorously stir the pasta while slowly adding in the egg mixture. Divide the pasta among four serving bowls, then top each with a handful of crispy eggplant, a sprinkle of cheese, some black pepper and flower petals or blossoms, if desired.

You May Also Like...