Food blogging is in and how! Take note of some food blogs to know what the big brouhaha is about. LAVANYA MOHAN
After spending an entire Sunday afternoon watching reruns of particularly dramatic episodes of Master Chef a week or so ago, I was left with the burning urge to get into the kitchen and cook something.
The only problem was that my culinary skills were limited to coffee and instant noodles, and I didn’t really know where to begin. Spending some time on Google made me realise that, surprisingly, the best place for a novice cook to pick up the basics of cooking anything from any cuisine is not from a recipe book, but from a food blog.
A food blog, for all practical purposes, is like any other blog, but with a focus on food. Given the recent spate of cookery and food shows that have invaded television of late, food has transformed from being just food to a spectator sport. People seem to be more willing to widen their palate and experiment with cuisines, ingredients and food from different cultures.
“For someone who likes to explore food from various regions, a food blog is a good option,” says Pratibha Rajesh, a freelance designer. “Not only do I learn about their culture, but they also have a lot of extra tips that recipe books don’t.”
“It’s a dynamic platform,” says Nandita Iyer, author of Saffron Trail (www.saffrontrail.com), a food blog that specialises in healthy vegetarian cooking. “For example, if someone has a query about a recipe I posted the previous day, they can ask me directly and get answers immediately.”
Nandita is a medical doctor with a specialisation in nutrition. Apart from managing her now eminent blog, she is a regular writer with a number of publications including BBC Good Food , Men’s Health , Femina and Mint . She has also made appearances in television shows alongside famous chefs and even conducts cooking and baking workshops across Bengaluru and Chennai.
Another feature that gives food blogs a distinct advantage over conventional recipe books is that they have a casual, narrative style of writing, which gives the feeling of cooking with a friend.
Mallika Basu’s food blog, Quick Indian Cooking (www.quickindiancooking.com), for example, is written in a friendly, chatty way and includes various little snippets from her life.
Her popularity in the food blogging scene (her website gets 25,000 unique visitors a month) has also led to her authoring a cookbook titled Miss Masala .
Mallika, who was brought up in Kolkata, came to the U.K. for her undergraduate degree and has been living there since. She specialises in designing meals that are authentic, quick and healthy, designed to cater to the new age breed of time-starved men and women such as herself.
Ask her what sparked her interest in cooking and she talks about how she “felt proper hunger for the first time” when she moved to London. “I missed the food I got at home, the lavishly cooked and served meals. That’s when I developed a real interest in food and cooking. I guess, necessity is the mother of invention!” When she is not working on her blog, she has a full time job as the director at a PR consultancy. She is a married mother of two kids. “But I love being busy”, she says. “And I wouldn’t change it. I cook to relax and write to express myself.”
While cooking might be relaxing, managing a food blog isn’t the most simple of things. Typically, a food blog follows a step-by-step format with pictures taken at each stage of the recipe, which makes it simple even for culinary-challenged people to follow. It is important that the pictures don’t just look self-explanatory, but also appetising.
The more popular food blogs have photos of food so impeccably styled and shot that it presents a rather cruel dilemma to the reader — you don’t know whether you want to reach out to the screen and try to eat it, or just continue staring at it because it seems criminal to think that something so beautiful must be eaten.
“As simple as it may seem, preparing, cooking, photographing, uploading, editing, composing, and publishing a post takes me an average of five hours, so that’s around 15 hours a week I spend on just creating content,” says Nagalakshmi Vishwanathan.
Nagalakshmi, operates Edible Garden (www.cookingandme.com), a food blog known for its tasteful photographs and never-ending list of recipes. “Nags”, as she is addressed by her legions of followers, comes up with new recipes to post on her blog every week, despite having a full time job at Google.
“I feel like if I don’t share a new recipe, I am disappointing a lot of people,” she says, and goes on to note that whenever she takes a break, she gets emails from readers asking where she is and why they haven’t heard from her.
“Blogging is more about being part of a community than keeping an online diary,” says Mallika. Given the number of food blogs on the Internet, it is important to be receptive to your readers as well as other food bloggers. “If you don’t take an interest in other blogs and your readers, they won’t take an interest in you in turn. I have made some fantastic friends virtually through the blogosphere, and if it wasn’t for their support and my husband’s endless patience, the blog would not have lasted.”
Perhaps the reason food blogging has emerged as one of the more popular hobbies of this age, despite its inherent challenges, is because of the fact that it involves food — that wonderful element that unites human beings across the world without discrimination. If you’re passionate about cooking, then food blogging could be the next step in nurturing your talent and a delicious way to discover yourself.
For A Successful Food Blog
Ask yourself “why?”: It is important that you know the answer to the question because that is what will push you to be consistent with the blog.
Have a niche: Something unique that sets you apart from the crowd.
Participate: Read a lot of food blogs and interact with the community. You will gain a support system and your blog will get more attention.
Learn some basic photography: It is important that the photos of food look as good as they taste, so spend some time learning basic photography skills. It is not necessary to arm yourself with a DSLR. Even phones take great photos, provided you know how to take them.
Be yourself: Because that is the best you can be.
“I missed the food I got at home, the lavishly cooked and served meals. That’s when I developed a real interest in food and cooking.
“As simple as it may seem, preparing, cooking, photographing, uploading, editing, composing, and publishing a post takes me an average of five hours, so that’s around 15 hours a week I spend on just creating content
“It’s a dynamic platform,” says Nandita Iyer, author of Saffron Trail (www.saffrontrail.com), a food blog that specialises in healthy vegetarian cooking.
Food Blogs of Note
Quick Indian Cooking: www.quickindiancooking.com
Saffron Trail: www.saffrontrail.com
Edible Garden: www.cookingandme.com
Two Peas And Their Pod: www.twopeasandtheirpod.com