Stars of Gastronomy

Food vlogging has helped many ordinary Malayali homemakers earn celebrity status and financial independence.

A dutiful wife or a mom wakes up early in the day, walks straight into the kitchen. Starting with a cup of coffee or tea, she is supposed to stay put in her confined territory until it is dark, preparing breakfast to lunch to evening snack to supper and make sure the rest of the family had a belly-good day that she can wind up and start afresh from the next sunrise. Be it literature or film, the ‘sacrificial’ woman finds no better portrayal.

Here, these women have catapulted themselves all the way from kitchen to YouTube. The result is an enviable celebrity-like status and lakhs of subscribers waiting for their updates. These active vloggers have dedicated channels to publish the making of lip-smacking delicacies for the world. Sameera Nizarudin’s Salu Kitchen has more than 1.96 lakh subscribers and counting. A winner of YouTube’s Silver Play Button, she was an invitee to the YouTube annual event in Mumbai. The mother of three became a vlogger after her second son Sultan made a prank. It all started when he caught his mom unawares, by shooting on mobile her cooking a recipe and uploading it on YouTube. Now, with video and photo posts, Salu Kitchen is a happening place on cyber space.

At the start of the conversation itself, Sameera clarifies that she is a passionate chef who won’t spend more than half-an-hour inside the kitchen. An expert at her job, her marathon cooking would be over in this short time. “I focus on quick recipes that can be made using the ingredients available in anybody’s kitchen. It’s not that I stay inside the kitchen from dawn to dusk. People want me live on the channel to clear their doubts. And I make sure I am at their service the moment they want. Some may press a panic button after placing everything on the stove. What use if I check their comments after a day or a week and reply,” she asks.


That she was honoured by YouTube is no less an achievement. More than that, Sameera has high regard for the response from her followers. She was taken by surprise when a young Malayali wife gave her a tight hug in Abu Dhabi airport, where she was on a short visit. “She was happy for the good words from her husband and family. Their love for her recipes improved after she began to cook my recipes. She never disclosed the secret of the quick transformation, but her kids told their dad what Salu auntie teaches their mother to do. Now when he’s back home, he’d ask children what Salu auntie made today,” she laughs.

Salu is the short form of her elder son’s name, Salman from where the vlog was named. Rizwan is the youngest. The three kids and their dad Nizarudin working in the Philippines are the four pillars upon which Sameera builds her culinary empire. An engineer-turned-homemaker, Veena Jan’s posts come all the way from Dubai. The Thrissur native got a whopping 269K subscribers in two years of starting the vlog Veena’s Curry World, which turned two in November 2017. This space is populated not just with recipe videos and photos; it occasionally sports the happy time with her family comprising husband Jan and sons Abhi and Nandu.

“For eight years, I remained a food blogger. It moved in fits and starts as my family and arrival of children all happened in between. About 350 recipes, that was all. Then people started asking me why I couldn’t write a recipe book. My husband was quick to realise where lies the audience in this era of internet and spontaneity. It took a lot of rehearsals for me to be camera-friendly as I broke into smiles and laughs when it was turned on,” smiles Veena. A tripod-affixed camera mounted on a tiny chair and a Nikon camera are her tools. As the channel neared a year, it earned her first salary of Rs 6,000, through YouTube monetisation. “Though my engineer friends earn their monthly salary in lakhs, this remuneration, for me, is worth crores,” she gushes.

Both Sameera and Veena utilises subtitles to increase the reach of Malayalam narration. “I have got subscribers in the US, France and the Netherlands as subtitles help them understand the methods well,” says Sameera. Veena had two people to her aid so far. “Jan’s cousin Meghna Prakash who I fondly call Ammu used to do subtitles first. Now Chandralekha handles that part,” she says. They both warn not to get fooled by fake channels that copy-paste the stuff they create. The stronger the support of the viewers is, the more are the chances that more women come forward and leave a mark in this tasty and healthy vocation.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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