A Talk with Food Blogger and Writer Debjani Chatterjee Alam (@foodofdebjani)
Hello, Weekenders! Hope everyone had a rocking Durga Puja and Dussehra 2019! But the festivities are far from being over because… Diwali is coming folks!! And boy aren’t we excited again? Like every other festive occasion, Diwali is also about spending time with friends and family and its also largely about FOOD!
Food is an essential part of our culture and tradition and we make the best of this on special occasions. Thus to grace this tradition and celebrate the festive spirit in the truest sense of the term, we bring for you a savoury and delicious chat with some food bloggers who are truly doing wonderful work.
These bloggers are not only cooking delicious food but also, teaching us about different cuisines, the history, and stories of a particular dish/food tradition, food presentation and food photography. Along with this they also provide many tips and tricks to help us cook better. They will also provide insights on how we can amp up the food scenario this Diwali. So keep reading.
Today we have with us the very dynamic and multi-talented Debjani Chatterjee Alam with us. She is a development worker by profession and along with it she manages a food blog, a family and curates new Bengali recipes with her own touch. Working consistently for the past decade, she has created a niche for herself in the food lovers world that is quite unmatched. Read on to know more about her.
Follow her on the following places –
Website: Founder Blogger|Debjanir Rannaghar (http://kitchenofdebjani.com/)
P.S. All the pictures and videos are owned by ©Debjani Chatterjee and reproduction in any form, without prior permission, is prohibited
Q. Please introduce yourself.
I am Debjani Chatterjee Alam, a food writer, bengali recipe curator, food photographer and a food blogger based out of Kolkata. I am from a joint family from the oldest part of the city and a financial analyst by profession . I am married to an architect and a mother of a 6-year-old girl and also a dog mother. I have been writing since last 12 years on my blog Debjanir Rannaghar (www.kitchenofdebjani.com).
Q. What made you start your food blog/page? Please share what is your Instagram profile all about and how did your journey start?
The blog was started back in 2008-9 when I was posted in Bihar as a United Nations volunteer. This was the time when I used to live alone and the evenings were all about cooking for myself. I used to call my mother for the recipes. I used to read recipe books. One day I realized I need a diary sort of thing to record the recipes and this was the time I decided to have a blog for myself only. I started recording the recipes on my blog which was initially on a blogger platform and it was a novice attempt. I then started sharing the blog links on social media and was surprised to see that my friends were liking the recipes. I got married in 2010 and then shifted my base to Delhi and I started taking the recipe writing more seriously then shifted the blog to a proper domain; had a name and started writing the recipes regularly.
I joined Instagram in 2012 and I have my account with the name @foodofdebjani. Initially, I wasn’t regular over there on Instagram and then I started liking that particular social media platform and started sharing over there. I share my General Life stories including food through my instafeed
Q. Is being a food-blogger your full-time profession or do you work elsewhere?
I have been associated with the development sector for the last 13-14 years. I was associated with different UN Agencies, followed by economics research labs and at this moment I am associated with one International Micro Finance Institute and I handle the CSR of this organisation. I am a development worker and I specialize in CSR and financial analysis.
Q. What would you consider your biggest achievement so far?
I think my biggest achievement is to manage everything in my life including the family the blog my work. On another note I think it is great to see people believe in my recipes; the Bengali recipe specifically.
Q. What is your signature dish that represents who you are as a cook?
There are several however I specifically would like to name niramish mangsho – a mutton curry that has given me a certain level of popularity which I have not expected. I have grew up eating this mutton curry with the day after of Kali puja and during Durga puja as well; who would have thought this mutton curry from Bengal would give me such name. So far all my pop up have had this particular dish including the one I just have finished at mustard restaurant in Mumbai during Durga Puja. A Niramish Bengali mutton curry for that matter is curry without onion and garlic and named as veg mutton, this dish is being loved by all and obviously represents Debjani the food writer; Debjani The Home Chef; Debjani the Bengali cook.
Q. When you post a new recipe on the page, is that usually part of your home menu or do you sometimes have to prepare extra meals?
I do not support missutilization of food so the recipes that I post on my blog are basically the food I cook at home for us. to be very frank I do not have time to cook on day to day basis as I have a 9-5 job. I mostly cook on the weekends; In the Midnight. I then click the picture and write the recipes.
Q. How do you manage your family life along with other commitments and running a page?
My passion helps if nothing else. I must mention the support that I received from the family. they are well aware of my commitments and are my support system. I do have a 9 to 5 job which is demanding. I have a daughter; I have a puppy at home then I have the rest of the family including a super supportive husband. I just plan everything properly so that I can avoid unnecessary pressure. It is all about how I am managing everything within 24 hours of a day. I do not specifically cook for the blog instead I cook for us and then I create the recipes for the blog utilize the weekend properly. I never mix one thing with another; while I am with the family, – I am with the family; while I am at the office, I am only working and while I am writing for the blog or cooking I am doing that only.
Q. What are the top five ingredients that you would say are essential in all kitchens?
A bottle full of passion, a spoonful of love, a jar full of enthusiasm and what more!
Every kitchen is different and so thee needs are!
Q. What is your favorite kitchen gadget or tool that you can’t live without?
Shilnora (bengali mortar and pestle); bonti (traditional cutter); knives, grinder
Q. What are your favorite regional cuisines or specific foods? Name a dish you always wanted to make but haven’t had a chance to make it yet.
It has always been Bengali food. there are hundreds of dishes which I have not tried in my kitchen so far so there isn’t any particular dish which I would like to mention specifically.
Q. Which other world cuisines have you tried and what do you like about them? In your experience what is the basic difference in the eating lifestyle of Indians as compared to rest of the world?
When it comes to eating, I do not have any restriction. I love food and I love to try different cuisines. I like different things in different cuisines. As a foodie I personally like Continental and Italian a lot apart from Bengali and Mughlai food. At home, I cook Italian a lot.
The difference comes from the socio-cultural background, the economic condition as well as the climatic condition. the food that we eat in India is very much influenced by our culture, the climate in which we live and naturally it is different from the other parts of the world. Here we prefer to have a balanced diet. We eat course by course and if you see Indian food is well balanced in terms of the division of protein-carbohydrate fat etc and varies from region to region. The food from Bengal is completely different from North Indian food, konkani food is different from Mughlai and so on.
Q. What other activities are you a part of apart from being a food blogger? What are your hobbies?
I am a movie buff. I love reading books.
Q. Please share your experience with different brands you have worked with?
Over the years I have been associated with different f&b brands as well as reputed companies dealing with appliances in different capacities including content creation, influencing, stock photography, social media promotion, recipe development etc.
Q. As Diwali is approaching soon, could you please suggest few dishes which will be ideal to try out during the festivities?
As Diwali is approaching I messaged you a few Bengali delicacies from my blog which are dorbesh, chanar jilapi, bengali , Bengali Gujiya , Bengali rosogolla, Mishti doi cheesecake etc.
Q. There are a lot of shoddy people on social media who either try to discredit others or stalk them. How do you deal with such people or negativity in general? Does it bog you down or affect your mental peace?
A few years back they used to affect me a lot. I was in fact quite vocal about them over social media however what I found it is at time better to ignore them. There are people who always try to find negativity in you or try to demoralize you without doing anything constructive. You have to handle them depending on the situation. If it is ignorable it is better to ignore them. If you think that person is doing something which needs to be answered please be vocal especially when they are doing bad to your brand or talking about your work without even trying your things just for the sake of spreading negativity.
Q. Local Bazaars or Supermarkets – What is your preference when it comes to choosing fresh ingredients for the kitchen?
Local Bazaar for sure
Q. Can becoming an Influencer be taken up as a profession for future generations? How to not get lost amongst the masses? Any tips?
For sure one person can take influencing as his or her full time profession however you need to be patient because in India till now it is one of the markets which is considered in having no structure. There are no fixed payment system. Even the brands and PRs exploit at times a lot and vice versa. They are not clear what to ask or what to expect. At times even the influencers charge very high or low without knowing their worth . It is always better to judge the work and also your capability and then to quote. No way it is good to over or under quote. I would like to share that nothing is free in this world and hence if anybody is asking you to work for free just think twice before doing that whether it is worth or not. Also, people must think about the worth of the campaign they are working for. You must not promote something which should not be promoted for.
Q. What are your future plans for your page and profile? Are you happy with the way it has shaped up?
I plan to write and document more and more Bengali food and recipes . There are several misconception about Bengali food these days. I have seen people misleading and also miss conceptualizing the Bengali cuisine which is very sad. I would like to document about the real Bengali food more and more which as Bengali we have grew up eating with. A foodbook is on the way . apart from that I have been coming up with several Bengali pop ups where I would like to promote real Bengali food from the kitchens of Bengal.
Q. Lastly, any word for our blog? Thank you for your time!
I have been following WeekendTrivia for long and I love the way you document the stories so for me it’s amazing to be interviewed by you.
Thank you, Debjani Di, for taking out time to talk to us, and having such a wonderful and heart-to-heart conversation. We look forward to your continuously bringing more deliciousness to our feed! HappyDiwali!