“I love making traditional dishes, fusion and desserts,” says food blogger Neha Kumari

What do the pictures of food do to you in magazines? Suddenly make you hungry, go slurp, and search for a food app at the cost of lightening your wallet? This had a different effect on Neha Kumari, 30, an information technology BTech, who has worked as a software developer for Oracle for nine years. Although Neha is not a cook or a blogger by training, the photos of dishes and recipes from magazines like Grihshobha and Meri Saheli prompted her to blog. Armed with pots and pans, she plunged into the crowded arena of bloggers. And it’s been three years since she started and her love for blogging (saltsugarnspice) and food, as well as her subscriber base, is booming.

Who introduced you to blogging?

I’ve always been interested in blogging, but I was busy with other things. After marriage, when I arrived in Mumbai, I started working from home and had free time, so I started to cook regularly and experiment with new dishes. It was then that I realized I had to write these recipes. The blog was born from my passion for food. I like to share new recipes that I am learning or easy traditional recipes that more people should know or try. Slowly, this passion grew stronger and now I am drawing projects from it.

What prompted you to start a food blog?

Whenever I try something new or do something right, the first thought that comes to my mind is that I need to share this with more people. This is what inspired me and pushed me to start sharing my recipes. I feel that even if a person tries my recipe, my goal is achieved.

What is your culinary expertise?

I still don’t want to be an expert, but that said, I like to do traditional, fusion and desserts. I also like the easy-to-make Bihari recipes.

How old were you when you first entered the kitchen?

I think I was about seven or eight years old when my aunt taught me how to make tea and chapati. I remember making a full-fledged meal for my dad and my brother when I was 13. Now I cook for my family.

What is the first dish you cooked for your parents?

It was for my father because my mother was away. We were eating boring food for a few days so I did pakoda, chhole and puri bread. I was about 11-12 years old at the time. My dad still talks about this incident – I was so tired after all the cooking that I slept without cleaning anything.

Have there been any culinary catastrophes that you would like to share with our readers?

(Laughs) When I first started baking I experimented a lot and one of the recipes was rock hard cookies that you could smash someone’s head with. There was another one recently where I wanted to make chocolate bark, but ended up making truffles because the chocolate grabbed after adding one of the ingredients.

What is your favorite dish that you like to make?

I love to do laddoos of any kind. This Diwali, I made about 10 kg of besan laddoo and attack gond laddoo with my in-laws. Also, recently I have developed a taste for Middle Eastern pastry and desserts.

What is your favorite dish that your mom is cooking?

It’s difficult because there are so many things that I love. But if I have to name one, it must be lauki ka kofta. The trick lies in the mixture of spices that she prepares and also they are grounded on a mortar and pestle.

Does your blog specialize in all types of cuisine?

Fusion, mainly because that’s what I like to do. But I also try to post some traditional and less known recipes so that they don’t get lost.

How did the pandemic go for you? Have you encountered any problems?

On the contrary, it helped me as I was stuck at my mom’s house and had plenty of time to work on new recipes and spend time honing my photography skills. It was around this time that I also realized my interest in candy making.

What was your most successful post?

My most successful article was a very simple recipe from mawa gulkand laddoo, it has been tried by over 50 people. It was the simplicity of the recipe and the beautiful pink hue of the final product that caught most of the audience.

Describe your writing process, from conception to publication …

I am still working on my recipe idea as the first step and I create a draft of the whole procedure with the ingredients. Then I try the recipe a few times myself before posting or sharing a video of it on Instagram. Also, lots of notes need to be added on minor details like the color or texture we are looking for, as well as possible replacements if there are any as part of the recipe.

Recipe:

Litti chokha

Litti filling (Satu mixed):

1 cup Satu (Roast Channa powder)

1 medium onion

3-4 cloves of garlic

1 green chilli

2 tablespoons of mustard oil

cc of Nigella seeds

½ teaspoon of carambola seeds

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

2 tablespoons of chopped coriander leaves

Salt (to taste)

3-4 tablespoons of water

For the dough:

2 cups whole wheat flour

2 tbsp Ghee

½ teaspoon of carambola seeds

½ teaspoon of salt

Water to knead

Recipe:

In a bowl, add all the dough ingredients except the water and mix them well. Slowly add water and knead a semi-soft dough, cover and set aside for 30 minutes. Finely chop the onion, garlic and pepper. Add all the filling ingredients except the water and mix them well. Add water (1 tbsp at a time) and stir – the mixture should just hold its shape when squeezed.

Aloo baingan bharta

Ingredients:

1 small Bharta Brinjal

2 medium sized potatoes

1 large tomato

1 medium onion

4-5 cloves of garlic

2 green peppers

2-3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves

2 tablespoons of mustard oil

Salt to taste

Method:

Roast the brinjal and tomatoes over open heat or in the oven. Boil the potatoes. Peel the brinjal, tomatoes and potatoes once they have cooled. In a bowl, add the three and mash them.

Add the chopped onion, garlic and peppers. Then add the rest of the ingredients and mix everything together.

Coriander chutney

Ingredients:

1 cup of coriander leaves

1 large tomato

5-6 cloves of garlic

2 green peppers

Salt to taste

Method:

Grind all of the above ingredients into a smooth paste. Serve as an accompaniment to the dish.

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Posted on: Sunday December 12th, 2021 09:21 IST


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