Updated: Sep 11, 2020
As part of our In-Conversation series, where we are recounting tales from society and communities that we live in, and we have the first guest for our platform!
I recently had an opportunity to sit down and interview Ms. Prachi, who runs the online platform ‘The Blush of Spice’ and also works in ‘Aroma and Spices’, and ‘Trouville Nation’ via a telephonic interview to know more about her journey in cooking, inspiration and suggestions for all of us.
As food is of course one of our favorites, throughout this interview, we have been experimenting a bit with learning the ropes, and also knowing more about building inclusive platforms and publishing content online.
So, without further ado, lets dive right into the first part of the Interview!
(You can find Part One here)
(Kaushik) With all the time that you have cooked, what are some memorable experiences of people eating your food, and what are some food experiences which you treasure from your journey?
(Prachi) There have been times when I have set up stalls for my college fests, where I sell things, I bake. One time during these events, I made an Oreo Cake, for which I received a lot of compliments from whoever tried the cake. For me it was a cake which I thought was not out of the ordinary, but I surprisingly received so many compliments on it. They complimented it beyond my expectations, and surprised me when they often after that point started ordering entire cakes.
Another time, I tried to make a pasta recipe (Aglio-e-Olio) which only required 5 ingredients, which I had when I once went to a restaurant which was serving the same pasta dish which was quiet highly priced. On tasting the dish, I felt like the pasta I made had the exact same taste. Another friend who was with me also after tasting it said that it tasted exactly the same! This made me a bit confident on my ability to cook, and that sometimes even I can make things which can taste as good as things available in the restaurants.
When I cook at home sometimes, my mom gives me feedback on what all I could have improved on which also feels good to me. Experimenting with cooking never stops, and probably won’t as well, which is something I really am enjoying and will continue to enjoy.
(Kaushik) Everyone has someone who pushes them to strive harder towards their goals. So, on your experience as a cook, who have you found to be your biggest critique? Your friends, or your mom/dad?
(Prachi) I think my mom is my biggest critique. I cook quite often, and as everyone else I am guilty of making mistakes too. I sometimes may put in a tad bit more sugar, or other condiments. I sometimes prefer a bit more, where my mom almost always asks me to reduce the amount put in a dish for it to be better. Sometimes while trying something new, I end up making a disaster too. My mom has more often than not stepped in to help me manage my little cooking disasters, and steer me towards fixing my mistakes.
Friends of course have had what I make. But as friends are, they mostly just give me compliments on my work. They have also supported me so much, while setting up stalls and encouraging me to continue with my work too. But still I would say my mother is my biggest critique and the most honest reviewer.
(Kaushik) What are some of the tips that you have for beginner cooks or reviewers who have recently taken up cooking or experimenting?
(Prachi) I suggest that people should start with the basics. For me making, a boiled egg, cutting vegetables according to the different types of cuts, can be something to start with. Moving a step forward, cooks can try experimenting with basic ingredients and making even ready-made things we buy from the stores. With the advancement in online media, and the YouTube platform you can also pick up recipes and start making things here.
I would though suggest that for recipes having a serving for 4-5 people, beginners can start by reducing the amount and cooking for fewer servings. Try making it for just one person, if it works out then try a second time. Something may need adjustment and you can accordingly correct yourself the more you make things.
The biggest advice I would have though is for the beginners to not be afraid of cooking. Everyone can cook!
(Kaushik) Thank you for your helpful tips for our readers. So, if I was to ask you about just one moment of your cooking adventure which is the most memorable to you, which would it be?
(Prachi) There was a time when I was having some midnight cravings (I have many midnight cravings). I really wanted to have a chocolate cake, but I wouldn’t make a big cake in the middle of the night. So, I looked for short quick and easy recipe to make as quickly as possible. There I found out about mug cakes. Making it was an experience, and tasting it was really delightful. I had an out of the world “happy trip” if you can put it that way. From that day I have always been asked and complimented about the Mug Brownie recipe. This was the moment which was most memorable to me.
I have seen many people in my time doing all this, who make awesome dishes online. These cooks in the online medium, sometimes have very few viewers but their recipes are no joke. The recipe I followed that day was not viewed by many, but till date I attest to that recipe and still follow it when I crave for a Fudgy Brownie!
(Kaushik) That was indeed a memorable experience. As you know there are many cuisines around the globe based on the origins of the style of cooking. So, from your experience, what cuisine, say, Indian, Chinese, Thai, Italian, or anything else is the one you love the most?
(Prachi) Favourite is a difficult thing to ask. As I’m from India, of course I have an inclination towards Indian Cuisine, but going beyond that, I do like Chinese food a lot but I don’t stand down from trying a lot of different stuff.
I went abroad a short while back to Canada, the Chinese they make there and the Chinese dishes we have here are so different that it is baffling. In India Chinese dishes have much more flavour, and masalas. The Chinese food I had in Canada, was much more bland to me. Until you try the authentic cuisine you won’t really know much about different cooking styles, its interpretations and changes which have gone to it. But, when you talk more about comfort food, I always return to Indian Cuisine.
(Kaushik) What then would be your favourite Indian dish?
(Prachi) I do like Naan, Chicken Butter Masala, and Chicken Tandoori.
(Kaushik) What would be your favourite dish in Thai Cuisine?
(Prachi) I tried a dish with Chicken noodles in chicken broth. I don’t really recall the name of the dish exactly, but that’s my favourite.
(Kaushik) Any favourites from Chinese and Italian?
(Prachi) I love Pizza, and for Chinese, I really like Hakka noodles and Chinese chop suey.
(Kaushik) What are some of the things your page is changing or any new events which you have planned?
(Prachi) I am planning to make a blog, where I can keep all the recipes which I am cooking as it becomes harsh replying and sending recipes over direct messaging to my followers. It is still a work in progress without any end date fixed yet. Recently, since lockdown due to the shortage of ingredients in the market, I am trying to come up with dishes using less ingredients and which can be easily made.
(Kaushik) We have heard about your stalls in fetes, and the sale of home baked food. Tell us a bit more about the experiences you have had with these stalls, and where is the next place we can catch up on some of the food you make?
(Prachi) I started putting up stalls, since the first year of college. I participated in a lot of societies in college, but my heart was set on my passion of cooking. The location of our college is in such a place where people can’t get a lot of kinds of food. Many of the college goers miss home made food. So, I thought, why should I not bring home made food to the hostelers. We require permissions to open stalls. So with this in mind I approached the authorities seeking permission to sell home made food in my stall with no food on sale which was purchased from any store.
Within one hour of setting up of that first stall, I sold out around 6-7 whole cakes which I had made. So, it was the first time I actually had a business venture with food. I was apprehensive in the beginning, but seeing the success of the stall made me quite elated. From this I did come to know that people in the hostel were interested in having home made food. So, I have then continued each year, by setting up a stall, and have done so for three more occasions.
Currently, as the situation is, I don’t think it is feasible for me to set up a stall, with lockdown and meetup restrictions. As soon as the situation is better and time permits, I may start with home delivering my own bakes and dishes! It is in the works but let’s see how we can execute it.
(Kaushik) What are some potential goals you have for the future?
(Prachi) There is still time for any other professional developments from happening here, and a restaurant coming up. There is a desire, but it is still maybe 5-6 years offset in the future. Currently, I am pursuing engineering, and I plan to go ahead with that choice, so the future is yet to be known and yet to be done!
(Kaushik) Thank you for this wonderful interview. I am sure that people would definitely like reading about your experience and while have wonderful takeaways from it. I wish you all the best, and thank you for sparing time for this interview!
You can find Ms. Prachi’s pages here:
Aroma and Spices (Instagram): (Link)
The Blush of Spice (Instagram): (Link)
Find Prachi on Zomato: (Link)
Interviewed by: Kaushik Das
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