A Talk with Food Blogger Sayantani Mahapatra (@ahomemakersdiary)
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 are talking with the very creative Sayantani Mahapatra, the face behind Ahomemakersdiary. She is a preserver of the traditions and cuisines of Bengal, a homemaker, a business-woman and, a passionate food lover. Balancing all her roles with excellent skill, she continues to teach and inspire us to cook at home more and make it unique. Read on to know more about her
Follow her on the following places –
Instagram – ahomemakersdiary
Website – http://www.ahomemakersdiary.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AHomemakersDiary/
P.S. All the pictures and videos are owned by ©Sayantani Mahapatra and reproduction in any form, without prior permission, is prohibited
Q. Please introduce yourself.
Ans. Both side of my family have their roots in Midnapore. But when I was 8 we moved to Santiniketan, an university town founded by Rabindranath Tagore. This place with it’s aesthetic sense and simplicity along with the middle class values of my family shaped me the way I am today. My father was a Govt. officer and my mother, an artist had her own handicraft business. Now am married to an IT professional with two kids.
Q. What made you start your food blog/page? Please share what is your Instagram profile all about and how did your journey start?
Ans. Basically the blog was started to write down our family recipes in one place, I started this after I got married. But with time my homely, everyday recipes got so much appreciation and fan following that I decided to take it seriously.
My Instagram account is about my journey in life, 80% cooking and 20% life in general including travel, kids and my foray into cake decorating and crafting.
Q. Is being a food-blogger your full-time profession or do you work elsewhere?
Ans. I do a lot of things. We have a family business of Hand embroidered apparel and home furnishing. Along with that, I take occasional orders for baking celebration cakes, I also am attached with a travel agency called Magic tours of India and I do Bengali cuisine tours (mostly for Foreigners). Recently I have started doing pop-ups and am so excited to make it a regular feature in the coming year.
Q. What would you consider your biggest achievement so far?
Ans: It’s not only mine but I feel Bengali bloggers in general have contributed a lot towards making everyday cooking an enjoyable affair and reviving forgotten recipes and food cultures. I see a lot of people on social media engaging and asking for recipes and taking inspirations from our posts.
Q. What is your signature dish that represents who you are as a cook?
Ans. Pithe making is something that marries my love for cooking and crafting. I am very passionate about learning new pithe recipes, the history behing them, new techniques and perfecting them. I personally believe pithe making is about technique and finesse, just like pastry making one needs to practice a lot to make it perfect.
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?
Ans: Mostly yes. I am a big believer of eating seasonal, local ingredients. I post the same dishes that we eat at home. I have never posted a half baked/ uncooked dish on the blog just because it looks good that way. When I shoot, my two kids wait besides me to dig in. So on my blog, what you see is what we eat.
But sometimes I do make something special mostly on request of my readers.
Q. How do you manage your family life along with other commitments and running a page?
Ans. Initially it wasn’t that difficult but recently I found it was really taking a toll. So I have cut down on the promotional works and restaurant reviews. Somehow, I never enjoyed them and reducing them drastically have made it easier for me to allot time efficiently.
Q. What are the top five ingredients that you would say is essential in all kitchens?
Ans: India is such a diverse country with various regional culinary culture that it won’t be right to generalise ingredients like that.
But I think a good quality oil, salt, turmeric, tomatoes and chilies are a good starting point to make any kind of Indian recipe.
Q. What is your favorite kitchen gadget or tool that you can’t live without?
Ans. My knives, chopper and my stone mortar and pestle.
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.
Ans: After Bengali I love the food of Kerala.
My grandmother used to make a Dalna or gravy dish with the thin white crispy inner layer of young coconut. I want to make it. I have a faint idea of the recipe too, but somehow never got down to making it.
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?
Ans. We have travelled to a few Asian countries and USA so far. Being a foodie trying out local cuisine always tops my list. We simply loved the food in Indonesia, depending on the community the food differs extensively. It’s spicy, flavourful and damn tasty. We loved the food in Bali so much that for the first time in life I attended a cooking class there.
India with it’s varied culinary tradition uses local ingredients amazingly. For example lentils, the way we use lentils in so many forms and so many dishes is simply brilliant. But the biggest difference is constructing our food ethos on Ayurvedic rules. The way we use seasonal produce, spices, cooking methods and techniques to nourish our body and soul is nothing less of amazing.
Q. What other activities are you a part of apart from being a food blogger? What are your hobbies?
Ans. I do a lot of other activities that involves my love for cooking. I do conduct cooking classes and Bengali culinary tours and cooking demo for interested people. I love decorating cakes and accept orders for that. Recently I have started doing pop up lunches and am loving this trend.
My hobbies are crafting and crocheting. I love to sing and listening to music.
Q. Please share your experience with different brands you have worked with?
Ans. My experience so far is very enriching. Am not taking those in consideration where I had to review or promote but working for big brands like Saffola, where I was involved in events were especially good as I got to learn from the experts, work in the real Hotel kitchens and make such good friends. Recently my association with Amar Khamar has been exceptionally fulfilling. Their passion to make a difference and working at the grass root level inspires me a lot.
Q. As Diwali is approaching soon, could you please suggest few dishes which will be ideal to try out during the festivities?
Ans. For Diwali you must must must make some sweets. You can try my malpuas, narkel naru truffle, payes, sondesh and Chanar jilipi from the blog.
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?
Ans. I have to deal with them on a regular basis. There are individuals who pretend as if they had no idea that using other’s pictures or content is a crime and then there are media houses, business establishments, Big restaurants who use your pictures to promote. I have seen my pictures being used without permission on TV shows, on ALL leading newspapers and magazines and even on shop hoardings. It used to affect me a lot in the beginning, but not anymore.
Q. Local Bazaars or Supermarkets – What is your preference when it comes to choosing fresh ingredients for the kitchen?
Ans. Always, always local bazaars. Bazars with it’s seasonal produce inspires me a lot. I simply love going to the market and chat with the vendors there. I Have learnt so many recipes from them.
I have almost stopped going to the supermarkets now a days.
Q. Can becoming an Influencer be taken up as a profession for future generations? How to not get lost amongst the masses? Any tips
Ans. I am not an influencer so I may not be the right person to answer this. And frankly, I do not believe in influencing people. I love social media for the inspiration.
According to the latest report, there are almost 600 million blogs in the world. Creating your own style and unique voice along with passion and hard work does make a difference.
Q. What are your future plans for your page and profile? Are you happy with the way it has shaped up?
Ans. Am more than happy with what I have done with the blog. I never expected anything from this blog but surprisingly the journey so far has been very fulfilling.
I want to keep on posting and if given a chance would love to write a book on lost and everyday recipes and traditions of Bengal.
Q. Lastly, any word for our blog? Thank you for your time!
Ans. I love the Variety of content covered on the page. Your passion is shown in each post and I especially like the fresh ideas and the illustrations. Very inspiring. Being a woman myself I know how hard it is to balance everything well and you two are doing it really well. All the best.
Thank you, Sayantani 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! Happy Diwali!