Culinary queen Lakshmi Nair turns vlogger

Lakshmi Nair shows how to make a quick chakka ada, one of the highlights of her new vlogs

Lakshmi Nair shows how to make a quick chakka ada, one of the highlights of her new vlogs   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

The celebrity chef explains what is special about her vlogs that will have her talking about food and travel

She has broken bread with tribal communities in remote corners of Arunchal Pradesh, danced away the night at the Hornbill Festival in Nagaland and eaten with truckers on busy highways and slept in cars on the way to windswept Kedarnath. And then she comes back to host those shows on Magic Oven, which continue to have a faithful following 20 years after the programme launched celebrity chef Lakshmi Nair.

Magic Oven, my cookery show, is still going strong while my travel show, Flavours of India, both on Kairali television, has completed 10 years. I wanted to try something new,” says Lakshmi with that smile, familiar to her fans all across the globe, who have anointed her the culinary goddess of Malayalam television.

The lawyer and academic wears several caps — that of a chef, cookery show hostess and traveller. She is always on the move: experimenting with ingredients, travelling for her shows or dreaming up the next move in her hectic schedule.

Lakshmi Nair at work on a jackfruit in her kitchen

Lakshmi Nair at work on a jackfruit in her kitchen   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

Three weeks ago, she launched her channel, #LakshmiNairVlogs on YouTube, which has her sharing her tried-and-tested recipes with her viewers. “Youngsters are more into telephony and so I felt to reach out to them, I must have a show that is mobile-phone friendly. Otherwise I would become outdated. Moreover, after two decades and five books, I found that many bloggers, vloggers and hostesses on television were detailing several recipes that I had demonstrated on my shows long ago. I decided to revive some of those recipes in my vlog,” she explains.

Since the show has been around for so long, Lakshmi points out that many in their twenties and early thirties would not have seen initial episodes of Magic Oven. “To reach out to them, I decided to come up with a new, informal series of vlogs on cooking and travelling,” she says.

The first six vlogs showed the dish and the method to prepare it. So there was a fiery sardine curry and simple steps to prepare the coconut-less dish that is a staple with rice in many homes. “Six one-minute vlogs that show how to make the sardine curry, a coconut-based fish curry, thoran, mango pickle, rasam and kozhukatta were the first to be uploaded. Then I decided to put in an appearance with a vlog on jackfruit. Many of us enjoy eating the fruit but how many today would know how to clean the fruit, extract the bulbs and clean it?” she points out.

Chakka ada

Chakka ada   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

That was around the time an opinionated article had appeared in a leading British daily that termed the jackfruit, declared the state fruit of Kerala by the government, as “just a spectacularly ugly, smelly, unfarmed, unharvested pest-plant native to India.”

Lakshmi bristles when she says that it is one of the most versatile of fruits. “I want to show viewers how many curries, desserts and snacks can be made with the jackfruit, in any stage, ripe or raw.” Her latest vlog, published on YouTube on Friday, demonstrates the recipe for making chakka appam, a healthy eat that is steamed and made of jaggery and rice flour. As is her style, each step of the cooking process is clearly shown, measurements are given, tips are shared and finally the mouth-watering result is there to see.

The veteran of show biz has ensured that her vlogs are in no way a clone of her telly shows. While Magic Oven, quite a trendsetter in its segment when it first made its début on television, has her appearing in saris, with immaculate make-up and accessories that match, right down to her nail polish, the vlogs are informal and chatty. Lakshmi plans to add vignettes of her favourite restaurants, interesting titbits of her trips around India and motivational notes about taking on the odds in life. She adds with a laugh that comments on her vlog can also be moderated by her.

She feels that vlogs would give her the freedom to show the products that she uses and discuss the pros and cons of different products and brands.

Lakshmi Nair

Lakshmi Nair   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

Next up is ‘Ente Gramam’, a nostalgic trip to Koliyakode, in which she plans to take viewers on a trip to her village on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram and show them the interesting features of the place.

“Then I intend to take them to scenic Vellayani, such an unexplored place that lies so close to the city. There is a fish farm where you can buy the fish and have it cooked to perfection, organic markets with farm produce such as sweet potato, yams and other tubers in addition to farm-fresh vegetables,” she says.

What was the most memorable of her trips around India? “Tough question, because each was memorable and had its own pluses and minuses. I don’t plan much when we travel and so, at times, I had to sleep in our vehicles or hold on without a loo break for hours together. But those are all adventures,” she insists.

Next up is a book, the sixth of her cookbooks. “And I am always game for adventure,” she says.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 12:51:24 PM |

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