An entire generation of Indians living away from home are turning to social media for their daily dose of inspiration for kitchen experiments, where food bloggers are making cooking look magical and more importantly, less complicated
You sit down scrolling through your daily feed on Facebook or Instagram. You pause when you see carrot halwa being prepared on a video. For the next two minutes, the world outside fades out and you soak in every drop of ghee and every cup of sugar that melts on your screen. The best thing is that the video ends in less than two minutes and voila! The carrot halwa is ready, almost as if a magic wand was at work.
Based out of Singapore, Jeyashri Suresh began blogging as a hobby 10 years back and slowly began documenting the recipes of her grandmother in her daily posts. Today, her handle Jeyashris Kitchen has a huge following among Indians living worldwide. “There is a lot of interest today among people to explore a variety of food and they also want to try making them at home. This has led to a major spurt in the demand for more recipes. Living in a multicultural environment has exposed people to different cuisines and they are keen to recreate the same in their home as well,” says Jeyashri, who feels that festival recipes and traditional recipes top the list. “Apart from those, quick and easy recipes, chutneys and south Indian gravies are popular too.”
The basics of measurements also change when you cook just for yourself or for a small family. Rajeswari Vijayanand, whose channel Raks Kitchen has a huge following online, feels that new-age bloggers are able to give the recipes with measurements that are even dorm-friendly. “Even beginners can follow the measurements given in cups or grams. They have the advantage of instantly sharing any recipe amongst their followers. Also, these videos are successful because people can connect and relate to them more than the older professional videos,” says Rajeswari, a majority of whose followers are students, newlyweds and those who are new to kitchen.
The reaction of people to the festive recipes of these bloggers only confirms the fact that youngsters are also trying out snacks and sweets at home on special occasions. “Many youngsters follow our traditional practices with some alterations suiting there current lifestyles. For instance, instead of cooking a complete traditional meal, people might order food online and make only the prasadams at home. This way, they get to perform the rituals and enjoy good food without standing for hours in the kitchen,” says Neeru Srikanth, who runs the popular food blog Nees Kitchen, where she also shares many aspects of the rituals associated with the festivals as well.
“I get the guidance for these recipes from my mother and mother-in-law. I also refer to a few traditional books, which are not easily available in the market today. I don’t elaborately follow festivals like my parents did when I was young. This is primarily because our lives have changed and there are professional commitments. However I feel it’s my duty as a parent to pass on these traditions to my next generation. Hence I make it a point to not skip any festivals and make sure my child participates at home in all activities related to the festival,” says Neeru, who is also based out of Singapore.
This brings another interesting aspect. Many of the avid food bloggers are NRIs. Rajeswari does not see it as a mere coincidence. “People like me take to social media to express our sense of nostalgia and connect with people who share the same interests.”
For over half a century, those eager to cook dug out recipes from the cook books of Meenakshi Ammal. “She was a legend who thought way ahead of her time and wrote a cookbook. But in those days, families were bigger so the measurements given in her book are mostly for bigger families. The recipes given today suit current requirement. The number of servings and preparation time are very important for the readers,” says Jeyashri.
The popularity of the online medium can be discerned by the fact that culinary legend Mallika Badrinath also has her own YouTube channel today. “My books sold lakhs of copies but I wanted to explore the online medium. But I believe there are nothing like books. Also, because internet is free for all, there is no verification of information before it is put out there. So it is important to know whom you follow online to get authentic recipes. Also, now I directly interact with my readers. That gives me a different joy.”