A Talk with Food Blogger Chandrima Sarkar (@notoutofthebox)
Hello, Weekenders! Hope everyone had a rocking Durga Puja and Dussehra 2019! But the festivities are far from being over because… Diwali just got over but the celebrations are still continuing. 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.
Wrapping up this Food Blogger series with none other than the very very lovely, talented and our absolute favourite Chandrima Sarkar from @notoutofthebox. We love her work, her recipes which are extremely detailed and easy to follow, her simplicity with which she exhibits her work and her warm-hearted and down-to-earth Nature. Read on to know more about her.
Follow her in the following places –
P.S. All the pictures and videos are owned by ©Chandrima Sarkar and reproduction in any form, without prior permission, is prohibited
Q. Please introduce yourself.
Born and brought up in the suburb of Kolkata in a Bengali family, I studied Bengali literature and wanted to pursue Masters from Calcutta University, but I just took an impromptu decision not to continue with higher studies on the final day of university admission. As I had a keen interest in creating storytelling with high visual impact, I studied computer graphics in early 2000. The keen interest of Fine Art pushed me to pursue a career in visual design. As I wanted to be painter, I did a Diploma in Fine Arts too.
But my imagination and creative flair didn’t let me stop there. I started my food blog, as I combined my recipe developing skills with my training and expertise in visual art & design. That helped me in becoming a diversified creator with food-photography, food styling and content creation for my blog. These skills also come in handy when I work with different brands I collaborate with.
Q. Would made you start your food blog/page? Please share what is your Instagram profile all about and how did your journey start?
I guess I got inspired to start my food blog because I was posting some of my recipes on my Facebook Page in 2012, which was started to share my artwork. Gradually, my recipes started getting a broader audience, and people started telling me, “Chandrima, you should start your food blog.” Constant feedback and appreciation pushed me to start my food blog.
My Instagram profile is notoutofthebox, I started the journey on Instagram 3 years back, and it’s an amazing expiring being there. Instagram is a fantastic creative community where the tribe inspire, support each other. In terms of work, I’ve engaged with a lot of great F&B brands on several Instagram campaigns until now.
Q. Is being a food-blogger your full-time profession or do you work elsewhere?
I wouldn’t say that I’m only into Food Blogging at this moment. My work has spread branches in different directions, and I enjoy doing all of them. Apart from blogging I’m doing recipe videos for different F&B brands and my own YouTube channel, I’m into freelance Food Photography & Styling, Food writing, etc. All these things keep me super busy, I don’t need to do 9-5 jobs.
Q. What would you consider your biggest achievement so far?
My Blog got IFBA Best Recipe Blog award and I was chosen as one of the top 10 Indian Food Influencers in 2018.
Q. What is your signature dish that represents who you are as a cook?
It’s hard to choose one single recipe from hundreds’ of recipes. But yes, the Vegetarian Potoler Dolma (Stuffed Pointed Gourds) is one such recipe which is close to my heart. It’s the best version of Potoler Dolma especially when you’re looking for a vegetarian option of this traditional Bengali dish.
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?
Part of my home menu mostly or it becomes part of the menu for that day when the shooting for Blog/Brand gets over. I don’t prepare extra meals only for my work because then the food could become a leftover possibly or can go waste, which I don’t prefer.
Q. How do you manage your family life along with other commitments and running a page?
Family and Work both are equally important to me. I work from home mostly, so, it gives me the liberty to work around family simultaneously. There is no specific time for blogging in my day-to-day life. But I’m particular about publishing one new post every week on my blog.
It’s not at all easy to juggle family life with multi-dimensional works + blogging. Along with that, the game of Social Media adds on some more stress. Being said that it’s all about passion and willingness towards what I do.
Q. What are the top five ingredients that you would say is essential in all kitchens?
Oil, Salt, Turmeric powder, Red chilli powder, and Sugar.
Q. What is your favorite kitchen gadget or tool that you can’t live without?
My Iron Tong is one of the most important kitchen tools for me, and I can’t think of a day working in the kitchen without it.
Q.What is 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.
My favourite regional cuisine is Bengali, of course. I always wanted to make Aamshir Achar but haven’t had a chance to make it yet.
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 style of Indians as compared to rest of the world?
I’ve tried various cuisines so far and my favourites are Mughlai, Chinese, and European cuisines.
Indians mostly eat with their hands, and this unique style of having food is different from most of the countries in this World.
Q. What other activities you’re a part of apart from being a food blogger? What are your hobbies?
I’ve many hobbies, but I hardly get time to nurture them these days. But in my spare time, I sit with my daughter, and we make crafts and paintings together.
Q. Please share your experience with different brands you have worked with?
The experiences are all good so far. I always learn several things from the projects I do, and that is how we grow.
Q. As Diwali is here, could you please suggest few dishes which will be ideal to try out during the festivities?
In Diwali all the Indians love to prepare the traditional dishes mostly. I’d suggest use local ingredients, buy from the nearby grocery store, sabji bazaar, so that all the offline and online vendors can grow equally. Mathri, Namak Pare, Pakora, Kebabs, Samosa, Different types of Halwa, Laddos, Barfi, Peda and there are many more dishes which can be tried during the festive days. To make the dishes healthier, one can replace maida with atta, or a mix of both of the flours.
For your Diwali party please try to Bake or Air fry the Indian snacks if possible. This way the oil consumption can be cut down to some extent.
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?
Everything in this world has its positive and negative sides. Social media is no less than that. We can tell people upon the fact of not giving proper credit to the creators, but we can’t change their minds. My mental peace is dedicated to all things I love, and towards my work, I don’t entertain negativity.
Q. Local Bazaars or Supermarkets – What is your preference when it comes to choosing fresh ingredients for the kitchen?
I believe in Farm to Table concept, local bazaars work best for me.
Q. Can becoming an Influencer be taken up as a profession for future generations? How to not get lost amongst the masses? Any tips?
Yes, of course, but before diving into the ‘Influencer’ brigade I’d suggest try to understand your strong points and your area of expertise in digital content making. Only then you can succeed in the long run.
As an Influencer, producing quality content consistently over social media is a big task, and it’s a work of responsibility too because one is involving the masses here. So, the digital content needs to be clear and precise, that way people can relate with the Influencer, and the work becomes a mutual benefit factor for both parties.
Q. What are your future plans for your page and profile? Are you happy with the way it has shaped up?
I feel blessed the way Not Out of the Box has grown, and I want to keep on going like this only.
Q. Lastly, any word for our blog? Thank you for your time!
It’s good to see that Weekend Trivia is promoting creative talents around the globe on their blog. I look forward to seeing great contents and stories on your page, Best Wishes!
Thank you so much for having me over. I enjoyed the conversation.
Thank you, Chandrima 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!