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Meet the food-tographers

From top: Nandini & Ajit Bhaskar: Udon noodles with Enoki Mushrooms and asparagus; Zarine Mohideen: Drumstick sambar and Aditi Raghunathan: Courgette omelette

From top: Nandini & Ajit Bhaskar: Udon noodles with Enoki Mushrooms and asparagus; Zarine Mohideen: Drumstick sambar and Aditi Raghunathan: Courgette omelette  

Urban dictionary may define Instagram as “Every hipster’s favourite way to make it look like they take really classy pictures,” but there’s no denying the fact that the photo sharing app is here to stay. From sharing just selfies and travel photos, Instagrammers are now posting their passion for food through the app.It’s no longer just about taking a photo of what you ordered at the restaurant, adding a filter, some hashtags and posting it. Instagram is becoming a platform for foodies to share their own recipes and techniques. They use standalone images, collages and the 15-second video option to showcase their culinary skills. Here’s the how and why of this trend:

Nandini & Ajit Bhaskar ( >@nandinivish & >@macroajit)

When Ajit Bhaskar a research scientist at Unilever, and his wife Nandini, were in the U.S., > they started a food blog to chronicle what they call their kitchen experiments. “At that time, for some reason we didn't have a lot of friends so we decided to cook and bake together for fun and blog to keep track of recipes,” he says.

As time passed, the now Bangalore-based couple got “busier and hence, lazier towards their blog.” They last posted in August 2013 and Instagram presented a whole new window of opportunity. “This made me change the way I use social media. Instagram is mostly for food; Twitter is mostly for cracking horrible science and other PJs,” he says with a laugh.

Nandini and Ajit find the app very user friendly, but admit that typing recipes is much harder on the phone. “We typically share photos and techniques in the caption; if someone asks for the recipe, we gladly email them,” they say.

They don’t mind plating up except when fixing up a meal for guests or if they’re surprising each other. “Otherwise it’s just cook, put it on a plate and click. No extensive lighting, prepping or props.” Even so, the couple’s photos are quite popular, and with good reason. The dishes look amazing with their bright colours and great presentation.

A look at Ajit’s profile will show his favourite cuisines to experiment with: “Italian, because it lets me bake bread and make some pasta. With us, it is more mood-dependent. If we're up for some cooking, anything is fine. Thai, Mexican, south Indian, North Indian, Bengali, anything goes. But on days when we’re tired and spent, Nandini’s ultimate comfort food is curd rice and I take refuge in Maggi or dal chawal.”

Favourite posts:  >Pizza from scratch, >chocolate lava cake, >homemade pasta.

Aditi Raghunathan (@aditi_raghunathan)

Going on a ketogenic diet, 24-year-old MBBS graduate Aditi Raghunathan found Instagram the perfect place to share her journey. “Let's accept it, it is known as a food sharing portal. And sometimes – I know this is a cheat – the filter just makes my ordinary cooking look extraordinary,” she says, explaining her choice.

While Aditi has never had a food blog, she concedes that compared to normal blogging, Instagram is a breeze. She says, “You can do it from your kitchen, from the restaurant, just before you go to bed. It’s all done in a matter of minutes. I definitely wouldn't be motivated to share my pictures if I had to blog about them.”

Instagramming has not interfered with her cooking; in fact, it is a subconscious act before she digs in. “I'm cooking only because I am on this diet and I need to make my own food! My cuisine has been varied. I use a lot of cheese, eggs and vegetables and 90% of my posts are specific to this diet but anyone will love it. I started baking only recently and I must say I have improved a bit,” says Aditi.

“I just try to keep stuff in focus and keep the dirty dishes away. Most of my pictures are very home meal, steel plate types,” she says, adding that she won’t spend more than 10 minutes trying to get a good photo.

When asked if sharing her photos and recipes has made a difference to how she perceives her cooking, Aditi says, “My passion for cooking has certainly gone up by leaps and bounds after public appreciation of the pictures. It's always very heartening to receive comments and questions.”

Favourite posts:  >Courgette omelette, >homemade dark chocolate with almonds.

Zarine Mohideen ( >@zarinem)

A self-confessed foodie, full time graduate student and homemaker Zarine shares her recipes via 15 second videos. Having moved to the US from Chennai almost two years ago, she says, “I love experimenting with Indian food because that is what I miss the most living away from Chennai.”

On why she picked Instagram, she says, “It was just easier and much less hassle than writing down recipes. There are a lot of food blogs that give great recipes but not many show step-by-step pictures. For a novice like me, it was hard. So one day I decided to just share my cooking through Instagram videos. I made Maggi in my first video; after that got a good response, I was hooked!”

Her videos are crisp, and the sizzle and splutter of the ingredients add a great dimension to the post. She ends each clip with a thumbs-up sign, signalling that the dish is done. Fish gravy, coconut rice, channa and roast red peppers with pasta are some of the dishes she demonstrates.

Lighting is very important while taking both pictures and videos, says Zarine. “I’ve learnt that natural light works the best. For videos, you need to present a clean workspace, so I make sure my stovetop and utensils are presentable,” she adds. Apart from this she makes sure never to cook anything new for the first time and record it because “You never know how it’s going to turn out.”

To those who intend to try making their own videos, Zarine says that one needs to have two good hands while Instagramming and cooking at the same time. “I’ve come close to dropping my phone in to the pot quite a few times,” she admits sheepishly.

Favourite post:   >Drumstick sambar. It’s my comfort food and I was very excited to share my mother’s recipe.

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Printable version | Sep 16, 2020 3:48:19 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/meet-the-foodtographers/article6033176.ece

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