Although many of us have the desire to learn authentic recipes from the elders in our families, more often than not, the desire remains just that and we do not put the thought into action. This inspired Srivalli Jetti, Chennai’s popular food blogger, to start a monthly event aptly titled the Indian Cooking Challenge on her blog.
This event requires all the members to experiement with the dish that is chosen for the month. This month’s recipe is Gujarati Dal from our Ayurvedic cookbook “Sukham Ayu”. We look forward to all the authentic versions, variations & innovations of this recipe that will be featured by the members of Indian Cooking Challenge.
Click HERE to see the round-up of this event.
In the meanwhile, intrigued by the event, we asked Srivalli to tell us more about the event and how she happened to start it. Here is the email interview with Srivalli:
J&P: How did you think of ‘Indian Cooking Challenge’? It is truly a unique idea.
Srivalli: Thank you Jigyasa & Pratibha. I was inspired by Daring Bakers, a similar event for those who love to bake. I wanted to do something similar with Indian Cuisine.
J&P: What was the initial response and how has it picked up?
Srivalli: When I thought about this, I emailed my blogger friends. The response was mind blowing. As of now, more than 150 bloggers have signed up. Of course not all of them participate, though I wish they would.
J&P: When did it start & how many recipes have you done so far?
Srivalli: I announced the Indian Cooking Challenge in June 2009. The members were given an opportunity to list out the dishes that they would want to learn. This was more to get an idea of what can be part of this Challenge. We have done about 25 recipes till date.
J&P: What are the kind of recipes you usually try in ICC?
Srivalli: We would want to try out as many Indian traditional recipes as possible, especially those recipes which are supposed to be very tough to attempt. For example, Athirasam is supposed to be extremely tricky. Same goes for Dhokla. Both these recipes I got from my mom and my friend’s mom who is a Gujarati. We were given exact measurements, in smaller quantity of course, for us to get the perfect recipe as the end result.
J&P: Are your group members of ICC from India? If it is global, then how do they manage if ingredients are not available?
Srivalli: The members are from across the globe. I have handful of westerners who love Indian Cuisine. They tell me that this is a great forum for them to learn basics and also mingle with like-minded people.
In order to encourage their interest, I always suggest substitutes for ingredients which they cannot find in their country/ies. The recipe is announced in the Indian Cooking Challenge Blog, which is a private blog. Once it is announced, members can ask their doubts and questions. Substitutes are listed out as you will notice in this month’s recipe, the Gujarati Dal. And of course, members are free to avoid certain ingredients for reasons of health.
J&P: Have you figured out what kind of recipes attract more people to experiment with them?
Srivalli: Actually the members are very enthusiastic. Till date they have responded with utmost excitement for all the recipes I have listed out. As a regular practice I ask members in turn to suggest a recipe for the month. This gets across better than being a sole person in choosing a recipe.
Mostly we have tried Authentic Savories and Sweets from different Indian cuisines. Then there are those traditional gravies from different states.
J&P: We know you have an extremely busy schedule with 3 young children & a full time job? So how do you manage to take step by step photographs of your cooking? Does your husband shoot while you cook?
Srivalli: I love taking step by step pictures as it explains the process to the readers much better than otherwise. Most often I take the pictures myself. I know this sounds funny, but I manage with my left hand. It’s too much of a bother washing, wiping and clicking every time. So, my camera can tell you tales of the food it clicked . Of course my husband helps me when he is around. On couple of occasions, I have got my daughter to take the pictures too. I think I have actually got my entire family hooked to cooking and taking pictures before eating. LOL.
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