Growing up in a typical Indian household, the kitchen was strictly off bounds for both me and my brother. I would watch fascinated the swift wielding of spoons and spatulas, smell the sizzling aromas and impatiently wait to gobble down the appetizing finished products. Cooking was portrayed to be a highly specialized area of expertise which was well handled by maids and mothers. It was an area in which I never sought to gain any interest and neither was any such idea ever encouraged. Perhaps all well fed kids choose to live in this bubble till the day they leave home.
Such independence initially thrives on restaurant meals; take outs, junk food and cup noodles for a considerable period of time. But eventually the nostalgia for home food becomes a full blown cause for depression. And then the shocking truth reaffirms. You are useless in that area and doomed to a life of financial independence but bad food.
Such was my case till I discovered the wonderful world of cheery food bloggers. Google can throw up any recipe which you desire, but these kind angels take it one step further. They have been exactly in your shoes and know what you’re going through. Their blogs feature classic as well as exotic recipes that have been painstakingly chronicled and deconstructed to make it easy for newbie cooks who are still figuring how to work the burner ( at least I was). These steps are supplemented with pictures and peppered with hilarious anecdotes, food history, cultural bites and tips and tricks to make your culinary journey smooth and inspired. The following is a list of food blogs and their authors which can not only transform you into cook book wonders but really open your eyes to the art that is cooking.
Quick Indian Cooking by Mallika Basu
Mallika’s story is as typical as it gets. She moved to England at the age of eighteen for University and was pining for home grown Dal Chawal before the year was out. She had never entered the kitchen till she was a master’s student. Thereafter necessity became mother of resourcefulness. Her blog is a hilarious, and often times satirical, recounting of her life as a high flying corporate lady in London trying to cook healthy tasty food while still maintaining her active social life. Through all her scrapes and successes in each post emerges a delicious Indian recipe that has been simplified beyond recognition. Yet she remains true to its taste and authenticity. Her blog is any expat’s, be it domestic or international, food bible. She is also the author of one feisty cookbook “Miss Masala: Real Cooking for Busy Living.
My Tamarind Kitchen by Sumayya Usmani
Sumayya Usmani, a gorgeous solicitor, became a full time professional foodie in a bid to follow her passion. Her blog is all about introducing and promoting Pakistani and Muslim heritage cuisine and giving it the recognition it deserves. Pakistani food is often mistaken to be no different than Indian cuisine and thus overlooked. She highlights the sheer variety and exoticness of her country’s cuisine in so mouthwatering recipes that it renders the readers spellbound. Try names like Banana Cardamom Coconut Samosas with Chai Chocolate Drizzle, Sindhi Mutton Biriyani with sour plums, potatoes and dried pomegranate, Pistachio and Lemon Sea Salt Barfi, Beetroot and Jaggery Raita, Nargisi Koftays, Okra Pakoras and Star Anise and Saffron Mince Pies. Her food photographs are as much a work of art as the dishes she creates. She has been featured in numerous newspapers and television shows all over the world and her recipes have a cult fan base.
Edible Garden by Nags
Nagalakshmi, or Nags as her fans call her, runs a highly successful cooking blog that features, hands down, the yummiest South Indian recipes on web. This apart, the site is rife with delicious and deceivingly simple chocolate desserts and creative instant snacks that are sure to satisfy any midnight cravings. She works with Google and loves living it up in gorgeous Sydney, that she says is a haven for food lovers. Her food blogging story is endearingly simple, “One fine day I came across a food blog. I thought it was pretty cool. A month or so later, I had my own although I was barely cooking back then. A wedding, a husband, 2 relocations, a 10 kg increase in weight, and almost 7 years later, I am cooking much more and enjoying it too.” Her chilli paneer, sesame potato and biscotti recipes are personal favourites.
Cook in a Curry by Maunika Gowardhan
Unlike the rest of the bloggers on this list who tumbled into food fame by accident, Maunika Gowardhan is a chef and a food writer by profession. She loves travelling through India and collects authentic vintage recipes that expressly represent the wide and varied regions of the country. Here you will find Hyderbadi Mirchi ka Salan, Malwani Chicken Masala, Sindhi Koki, Goan Kulkuls jostling for space with Chingri Maccher Malai, Unni Appams, Kannada Huli and Kashmiri Dum Aloo. The recipe index reads like a map and she is equally dedicated to reviving old little known dishes as well as celebrating the truly famous and classic recipes that have a place in every home.
Chilli And Mint by Torie
This last special mention belongs to a lady who did not grow up in a South Asian home. British born Torie discovered the wonders of Indian food when she married an Indian man and received a MIL in dowry. The fact that she loves to cook is evident not only from the lovingly procured, tried and tasted recipes but from the fantastic touching pictures on her website as well. Each picture is a simplistic work of art in progress. Indian recipes are not her only forte. She mixes it up with Asian, continental and local dishes that come together to form an eclectic, artsy and sweet picture of domesticity.
Hope that was a salivating read. Now go feast.