Category Archives: Articles

Rediscovering the joy of baking

‘You only need to see, feel and act from the heart. Let the heart guide you to your peaceful enlightenment’.   – (from the movie) Kung Fu Panda

Baking with sheer pleasure

It seems like ages ago, the time when I found absolute joy in baking. The idea of baking seemed so exciting, purely based on novelty, because back then baking still wasn’t a part of cooking the regular meals in most Indian households. Cakes, for celebrating occasions like birthdays, were only bought from stores. I loved being able to make a happy moment special by baking (a cake). As my hunger to learn more about this art thrived, I found myself reading several blogs, clipping recipes from magazines, buying cookbooks, all in an attempt to improve my baking skills, to learn other baking techniques and trying different things apart from cakes.

The smiles on the faces of loved ones as they walk into a room engulfed with the heady aroma wafting out of the oven. The happiness reflecting in their eyes, something that if it could be put into words it would express the gratitude they felt on realizing that I would take the trouble of going an extra mile, to give from the bottom of my heart and let them know they mean a lot to me. Baking was heartfelt. Like a personal handmade card, however imperfect, giving away signs of amateurish craftsmanship, but enveloped with immense love. That joy gave me a high.

Along the way, I discovered blogging. There were so many blogs that I was learning from, I wanted to share the lessons I learnt, as well. So that someone, somewhere may not make the mistakes I did, that they may be inspired to try something new, and partly for me to document my journey.

The Lull

But slowly, numbers occupied the thoughts which were once only reserved for ideas. Disappointment crept in when I felt ‘left behind’. Those that started after me were far ahead now. Inspiration for ideas turned into an ugly competition analysis. I was angry with myself for not doing enough when others posted every week. I consoled myself in the most pathetic manner of justifying that others had ‘benefits’ that I did not. Support, either to take pictures or style, while I am here all by myself, baking, writing, taking pictures, juggling a full time job and a social life. These thoughts were exhausting, it drained out all my enthusiasm which also led to not feeling motivated enough to even attempt anything new.

Moment of Epiphany

All this only reinstated how my blog just wasn’t where it was supposed to be. But where am I/ my blog supposed to be? For a person blogging with ‘x’ number of years, what does the growth chart look like? Monetizing the blog? Growing in number of followers? Expanding horizons to x, y, z other things related to baking?  Yes, but who defines all this for me? Why?

I respect bloggers, whose sheer hard work has helped them scale and achieve things for themselves. But I was wrong to compete or compare myself to them or try to walk in their path. To be well known/ established like other renowned bloggers is not the reason I started baking or blogging. We may be in the same genre of the blogging world but we are different, our vision and mission for our blogs are different, our ideas and circumstances are different. The only way to move forward is to leverage our strengths and stay true to our purpose, to ourselves.

I am where I am meant to be. I still have everything on my side, the advantages in fact even more than that I once had, in my happily baking and blogging phase. I have drowned out the noise that distracts me and zoned out of the things that don’t matter to me. I am no longer in a race to chase numbers or beat myself up for not making it to any awards list. I have decided to stay true to my purpose and let things fall in place. For me, rediscovering my passion is success. Getting myself together and blogging again is an achievement. Sharing a recipe worth inspiring you to bake/cook is an accomplishment.

Today, as I bake, I am happy to try out something new. I am happy to linger on in the moment with hands covered in flour. I feel the supple dough ready to be transformed. The house is filled with the aroma of bread again. My thoughts float towards thinking of his reaction when he returns home. I hope he likes it too.

I have written this to serve as a reminder to myself, lest I forget the joy of baking.


P.S: I didn’t know ‘slow blogging’ was a thing until I found these articles. If you enjoy the thrill of being under constant pressure and do not agree with this, it’s ok. Maybe that’s what drives you. We need not all fall in the same category, right?
Slow blogging for creatives by Jen CarringtonSlow blogging for creatives by Jen Carrington
Slow blogging and Simple living by Dan Erickson

Discoveries from the food scene in #MyDubai

Mumbai has been home for a very long time. It satiated the food enthusiast in me through countless ways. From being able to try out different cuisines while eating out to experimenting at home (since a lot of stuff is easily available here), foodie events to meeting like minded people who continue to inspire me every single day. In a way it does hurt a bit to leave this place. In a few months from now, I will be moving to Dubai, another place I can call home.
2013-01-31 14.18.16Dubai is a beautiful place. But I was still skeptical. While I was there for a short visit recently, I was curious to see if Dubai would help me sustain my culinary enthusiasm. I knew there would be something to surprise me since I love to explore different cuisine cultures. Dubai with its bustling food scene, left me mesmerized and how!
2013-02-02 14.45.09

Gulfood, Dubai Food Festival, Taste of Dubai are some events that I would love to experience. Frying Pan Adventures conducts food trails in Dubai, I hope to go for one someday or many more. I also got to know about a few UAE Bloggers, it would be nice to connect with them and see my blog someday on that list (wishful thinking) 🙂 And just like Mumbai’s FBAI Salt, Dubai also has an e-magazine by bloggers called FoodeMagdxb. If you are visiting Dubai any time soon, you must visit the Global Village for some amazing middle eastern and turkish desserts.
IMG-20150315-WA0007When it comes to food, here are my favourites:
1) Kunafeh
IMG-20150315-WA0011I call this the godfather of all middle eastern/turkish desserts! I had it fresh out of the oven, still warm and the cheese all melty with a crisp shredded pastry covering soaked in pleasantly sweet syrup to keep it juicy and topped with pistachios. If you have a food bucket list, this goes straight in it.

2) Baklava
baklavaWhen in the middle east, eat Baklava! Although you do get variations of these with different nuts, I prefer mine with just pistachios. If only I could pack tons of it and carry it back home, sigh.

3) Charcoal Chicken
IMG-20150315-WA0008You do find chargrilled chicken at most places in Dubai. I had this at YAM’s a small little joint at AL Hurair, Bur Dubai. Chunky chicken charred on the outside and succulent and juicy on the inside is served alongwith pita, hummus, garlic sauce, salad and fries. After, shawrma, this is #MyDubai comfort food.
IMG-20150315-WA0009

I know there is still a lot left to discover but Dubai has managed to woo the foodie in me. I have vowed to explore Emirati cuisine and I can’t wait to get my hands on some beautifully designed tagine pots. Can’t wait to move to Dubai! For now, I just have to figure out how I’m gonna pack & carry all my baking stuff there.

Food Blogging 101

Grab a cup of coffee if you please, this will take a while. 🙂

My journey as food blogger started off a bit…umm…should I call it like a “Leap of Faith”?
I don’t remember clearly if I wanted to be a ‘Food Blogger’ back then. I gaped at the amazing food photographs I saw online, I wanted to learn to cook different cuisines, I wanted to share my ideas, my recipes. With tons of enthusiasm I decided to start blogging…*sigh* and then I actually learnt about Food Blogging!

Food Blogging = Cook/Bake + Write & Click pictures + Post

Done! See, so simple right? Or maybe not…

Sometimes the cake gets burnt, sometimes your camera acts pricey and nobody even warned me about writers’ block! Welcome to my world of Food Blogging 🙂

Ok so I don’t mean to scare you off! I am going to share with you a few things that I learnt along the way (read mentally preparing you :P) So here’s Food Blogging 101 – Creating a food blog, maintaining it, some dos and don’ts and the way forward.

Creating a Blog:

1) Registering: All you need is an email ID to sign-up on a blogging platform like Blogger/Blogspot, WordPress, Tumblr, etc…Each of them do have their differentiating factors. As a beginner you need not worry about all that, as and when you evolve you can compare features and shift base (yes, most allow you to import all your previous posts too.)

2) Christening: The name of your blog will go on to be your brand, so get as creative as possible and select a name for your blog (even hound friends and family for suggestions if need be!) Keep it simple (so that it is easier for people to understand when they ask you what your blog is called); let it convey what your blog is about. Coming up with a name is not easy, I chucked out 10-12 names before I settled for Culinary Zeal. Even if you do manage to come up with a brilliant name, it might not be available, so always have a backup or 10 more!

3) Avoid identity crisis: To build your blog’s identity, consider getting a logo designed. It is also nice if you can get a domain name and link it to your blog so that instead of, say yourblog.wordpress.com, you can have yourblog.com. The blog can be like your own website, so cool right? Right!
If you are a techie or can get some help with coding, you can buy hosting and get the blog customized. If not, either learn about it else don’t bother, just Keep Calm and continue reading.

Maintaining a Blog:

1) What to share: In the world of food blogging, I was like Alice in Wonderland, totally lost! That is till I figured out what I wanted to write about. What is your blog about? Baking, vegan recipes, food photography or restaurant reviews? No, you don’t have choose just one. But identify where your strengths lie and leverage it rather than trying to do everything. Build a niche. This is only meant to give you a direction and not to be restrictive. Try a lot of things, after all experience teaches you what no professor can. But that does not mean you have to blog about everything you try.

2) Getting Inspired: Content is a challenge every blogger has to deal with. It’s like a big wall that you need to climb. I told Elson I can’t write this post because I don’t know what to write…and look at me going on and on and on… Sometimes, you just need time and space to come up with something worthwhile. And like Elson says, look around little things in your day to day life can inspire you. For example, I got the idea to write this post when Shanti Padukone (Riot of Flavours) was discussing with fellow bloggers about the process to register a domain name.

3) Prose & Pictures: Different bloggers have different writing styles, identify your style. Writing style…err what it iz! Let me explain, check out these blogs Nonchalant Gourmand by Nikhil Merchant and The Purple Foodie by Shaheen Peerbhai Kiswani. See how these bloggers have their unique style of writing? While Nikhil elaborately builds a story connecting with the recipe shared, reading Shaheen’s blog is like reading a letter from a pen friend. The manner in which thoughts/ideas are shared is a reflection of the blogger’s personality too. You can get as elaborate or as specific to-the-point as you wish. And how you present your story, that will be your style. Also spare a thought for those who will be reading your posts (your target audience) and write accordingly.
Pictures make a post interesting. They can sometimes convey effectively what you would otherwise struggle to explain with words. Not every post needs pictures though. Like this one.

4) Get some visibility: When you start off, no one knows your blog exists. Share it with family, friends, and friends of friends (the more the merrier!) You can also get listed on sites like IndiBlogger, blogadda, PetitChef, The Daring Kitchen, etc…

5) Monetization: Once you have established yourself as a Food Blogger, you can look at generating some revenue out of it. While one way is having Ads displayed on your blog, a lot of bloggers opt against it to keep the blog clean and to avoid distracting the readers.

Dos & Don’ts on Food Blogging:

  • Blogging is about adding some value, if you are just going to replicate something that already exists, spare yourself the trouble!
  • Plagiarism is a big No No! There is just no excuse for that.
  • Ask for permission to use material and always give due credit (while using images, recipes, content, etc)
  • If you are writing for the purpose of getting freebies, I will judge you!
  • Be unique, be yourself.
  • Stay open to learning – from books, online sources, friends, (also network with other bloggers… xoxo for my food blogger friends!)

The way forward:

Food Blogging need not be your destination. It is a great stepping stone for future ventures as well. Perzen Patel (Bawi Bride) caters Parsi cuisine, Amrita Rana (Life Ki Recipe) conducts food workshops and also provides consultation as a food stylist while Kalyan Karmakar (Finely Chopped) conducts food trails. Going forward, here are a few things you can consider:

  • Catering for events
  • Selling (gourmet/organic/home-made) food products
  • Conducting food workshops/customized classes (Take-home chef’s)
  • Taking up food writing/ food photography/food styling assignments with food magazines, restaurants, etc
  • Conducting food trails
  • Authoring cook-books

Too much of gyaan there, I don’t know about you, but I am 3 cups of coffee down! So I’ll just leave you with some ‘Food for Thought’: Don’t participate in a race if you don’t enjoy running.

A Big thank-you:

To Elson, for pushing me to write this post.                                                                                 To all the Food Bloggers mentioned in this post, for allowing me to use their names, their blog names and blog links.                                                                                                         To you, readers, I know it was a lengthy post but I hope you have found it meaningful.

Repost Disclaimer: I had written this article as a guest post for Elson’s blog – Tummy Tales