Collected greens, fresh catch from the local pond, spices and herbs from the backyard, vegetables from the field behind, all combined in grandmother’s secret recipe – the rough charm of village cooking blogs was the surprise hit during the pandemic. These homemade videos, sometimes with millions of views, have replaced the idea of the usual sparkling clean modular kitchens with their open-air sludge ovens, traditional cooking utensils made of cast iron, stone and earth and a unique cultural screen. In fact, they are so refreshingly different from the airbrushed reality show kitchens and star chef shows that food enthusiasts around the world devour every vlog put up by these village cooks – from a Pakora to a Hilsa, cooked in the presence of children, goats, roosters, cows, friends, neighbors and more. Dressed in traditional curtains and speaking in rustic dialect, the chefs in the videos have made themselves popular with even the die-hard fans of star chefs who present award-winning recipes. CT tells you what exactly their secret sauce is
Teamwork with family and friends
While mostly women cook in these vlogs, younger tech-savvy family members record, edit, and upload the videos. In the case of Popi Kitchen’s Popi Chaulia, who so far has 21.5 lakh subscribers, it is her husband Surojit who is making the videos. “A neighbor introduced me to video streaming sites and taught me how to edit videos. That’s all. We started this channel in 2018. I took the video on my phone and uploaded it, ”he said, adding that there were no views initially. “After a year, I borrowed money and bought a good camera at my friend’s store to make better videos, and it was almost two years before we succeeded,” said Surojit. Her grandson also takes care of the technical part at Dorfoma Pushparani Sarkar.
For the Tripura-based vlogger Aditya Kumar Debnath, it’s an army of two. Together with his friend, Aditya presents simple recipes in his distinctive local dialect. Not only are their videos informative, but the voiceover makes it incredibly entertaining, even hilarious. “You can call me a foodie,” he said while talking to us on the phone. “I started cooking when I was left alone to study away from home. I later thought of making these videos. I knew how to edit videos and now my friend and I are rotating, editing and uploading. I’ve been doing this for two and a half years and what I earn is enough for me, ”says the 26-year-old vlogger, who doesn’t care about brand advertising. “Some brands wanted to get involved in my content and I don’t agree with that. Also, some people wanted me to do it for free. What is the point? “Exclaimed Aditya.
Taste of novelty and nostalgia
While the finished videos look perfectly professional, they show village men and women doing rustic chores on a regular basis, including visiting the local green space to pick fresh spinach or fish for the day’s fresh catch. Most of these videos are set in rural India and show a slice of simple village life – a novelty that adds to their popularity. “These videos take me far away from the hustle and bustle of city life. That’s why I keep coming back, “said Anustup Goswami, a technology freak and cooking enthusiast.
“When I see a housewife in the village go down to a pond to pick Kalmi-Shaak and prepare a simple chochori, it reminds me of my Mamabari – the house of my maternal uncle – in Bakhrahat, where I my grandmother doing similar tasks I saw my childhood, “said Anushtup, explaining that food is mostly about nostalgia. His views are shared by food historian Pritha Sen.” We have all seen our mothers and grandmothers cook the same way they cook. That way we can connect with them, ”she said.
Reliable and satisfactory
Recently, a simple dish like Panta Bhat, prepared by Bangladeshi candidate Kishwar Chowdhury on a popular cooking reality show, struck global audiences. Food writers and culinary commentators believe the pandemic and our isolated lives taught us to appreciate the simple and rooted. For this reason, according to Pritha, Illage’s cooking videos appear more relatable to viewers. “In an average Indian household, 99% of us cannot imagine working in a state-of-the-art kitchen (like in the TV shows). But when it comes to making a simple fish curry we can easily refer to these videos. I think audiences are fed up with the cosmetic and overbearing content on the internet and are looking for honesty, ”she said.
Saswati Basu, a UK-based school teacher, is one such fan of village videos. “During the pandemic, I discovered a lot of videos in which people simply record and share their everyday lives. That’s how I discovered a village cook video and realized how much I enjoy watching their everyday life. While I won’t be getting a grindstone anytime soon, these vlogs make for a deeply satisfying watch. Besides, who doesn’t like to be a little nosy? ”She said.
Food writer Poorna Banerjee can no longer agree. “Most of these videos are carefully edited, maintaining or enhancing the ambient sound. This real-time soundscape soothes most of us. When you watch these videos you know it is their story. We watch people do real things, sometimes as simple as cooking. In the time of isolation this pandemic has given us, what can be more relaxing than watching real people cook for their families. These videos reassure me that life goes on. ”
Change perceptions, build bridges
Because of their social media presence, most of these videos are quite popular overseas, even among non-Indians. In many of them, foreigners commented on how their perception of Indian food changed after watching these videos. Food blogger Debjani Chatterjee Alam said, “I’ve seen comments about how surprised Westerners were to see Indians eating their fill of meat. There is a perception that Indians are vegetarians and these village food videos have clearly challenged the myth. In addition, channels such as Snigdha’s Bioscope and Eat your Kappa have also put the culinary traditions of the Northeast in the spotlight. ”In one of Aditya’s videos, he demonstrates how banana florist (mocha) can be prepared in two ways – on the one hand as a Bengali mocha ghonto, on the other others in the Chittagong tribal style.
What’s on the menu
From spinach to fish and chicken villages, it’s all about fresh, local produce, forgotten recipes that often connect cultures.
Some of the most popular are:
- Varieties of khichudi
- Freshwater fish curries, like Parshe maacher jhol
- Different types of traditional steamed recipes including laupatay koi bhape (koi fish wrapped in bottle gourd leaves)
- Country chicken recipes
- Traditional rural donuts