Meet the new-age food blogger
Food blogger-turned-author Sandeepa Mukherjee Datta is out with her first book, Bong Mom's Cookbook; packed with Bengali recipes, it's peppered with anecdotes from Datta's life. Soma Das and Kanika Sharma find out how food bloggers are using the web as a tool to turn authors and write cookbooks
In 2006, when US-based engineer Sandeepa Mukherjee Datta started blogging on Bongcookbook.com using the nom de plume Bong Mom, she didn’t anticipate that seven years later she would publish a cookbook. Bong Mom’s Cookbook: Stories from a Bengali Mother’s Kitchen is her newly-released book that includes a Bengali repertoire of snacks, breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes, chutneys, desserts and lesser-known vegetarian fare.
Living in the US, Datta had initially started her food blog as a chronicle of Bengali recipes culled from phone chats to home. “At the time, there were only a few blogs on Bengali cooking, and it was difficult to find Bangla recipes online. I thought, as I learn new recipes and cook traditional Bengali ones, why don’t I also post them on a blog. When my daughters grow up, I could pass on my legacy of Bengali food through the blog. It could also serve other people growing up in a foreign land who will find a way to connect to their Bengali roots through the aroma and taste of Bengali cuisine,” she reasons. Her first blog post on Alu Posto and Musurir Dal earned a good response and she never looked back. After a few years of blogging, Datta wanted to write a book combining recipes with food memories where it would complement the narration. She sent her proposal to literary agencies with no reverts for a few months until Harper Collins contacted her to write a book based on her blog.
When quizzed about differentiating her work for the cookbook from food blogs, she explains, “Food for me is not merely recipes but life around it; my blog posts always had a narrative with the recipes. Some days, it’s about my daughters, on other days it’s about the history of the food, or I write on memories with a certain dish. I am a home cook and I blog about what I cook, and what my family eats at home. I am also a working mom with two kids, so most dishes are simple, easy-to-put together and border on healthy. Its simplicity is also what my readers loveabout my blog.” While one expects delectable images in a cookbook, this one has barely any. Datta explains that it was a conscious decision to save on production costs and ensure the book was affordable. “For recipes and lavish pictures, my blog is always there to entertain readers,” she believes. Datta’s advise for aspiring bloggers is simple: “Blog because you love it and be honest while doing so. The rest will follow.”
Love food, will blog
Blog name: www.veganricha.com
Fame index: 10,851 likes on Facebook
Future plans: Vegan cookbook focused on plant-based diet
Richa Hingle aka Vegan Richa started blogging in 2009 to keep herself occupied while recovering from an illness. With time, she developed an interest in vegan cooking and decided to “vegan-ise everything that I could”. Her blog took a while to warm up but when she introduced food photography, social media activity, and focused on vegan-ism, things saw an upswing. Hingle offers simple vegan versions for Indian and Western dishes using local and seasonally available options. “Who would have thought a few years back that you could eat Vegan Gulab Jamuns and not miss the dairy in it,” she remarks.
Advice to aspiring bloggers: Find your passion and audience by connecting with other bloggers and people on social media. Click pictures in natural light without flash, add clear instructions and measurements in recipes, test these if unsure before posting them, and chat with readers.
Blog name: www.indiansimmer.com
Fame index: 4,435 likes on Facebook
Achievement: Author of just-launched, The Everything Indian Slow Cooker Cookbook
Prerna Singh was nominated for Saveur Magazine’s Best Food Blogs’ Awards in 2011 and 2013. The US-based blogger’s journey started with Indian Simmer in early 2010, which put her small town upbringing, MBA background, Advertising acumen and love for her “naughty three-year-old” all rolled into one, her passion for cooking. With several of her recipes featured on Food Network, and The Huffington Post, Singh attributes her simple way of relating Indian recipes, attractive photography and personal touch as reasons behind the blog’s popularity. Advice to aspiring bloggers: Read other blogs, question and reach out if you need answers; make and maintain a good connect with readers and people whose work you like using Twitter and Facebook. Submit your work to reputed public platforms such as Tastespotting, Foodgawker and FoodBuzz to showcase and get noticed.
Blog name: www.purplefoodie.com
Fame index: 5,880 followers on Twitter; 8,347 likes on Facebook
Future plans: In talks for a cookbook
Mumbaiite Shaheen Peerbhai is the much-adored cook behind The Purple Foodie. The exhaustive blog will guide you through everything that you ever wanted, to ask about food, under the sun, such as baking, growing your own herbs, finding and making fancy ingredients, recipe books to consult and lastly, even the cameras to use to click those goodies. Peerbhai is a talent who has been studying at the Le Cordon Bleu, Paris after bagging two prestigious scholarships in a row by The Culinary Trust and The James Beard Foundation. She started “as a way of documenting recipes she tried and enjoyed” since September 2007. The Purple Foodie, has surely taken her places including an offer to be BBC’s Good Food magazine’s Food Editor .
The Guide’s reco: Her ‘Baking in Bombay’ page will help you to find ingredients, cooking equipment and bakeware along with The Crawford Market Guide.