“For me, my kitchen is a temple and cooking is like offering prayers,” quips Smita Deo, food blogger and expert in Karwari cuisine.

Smita Deo (48), BSc (specializing in textile manufacturing and design) has been cooking since the age of 13. She has been blogging about food since 2014 and cooking menus for food festivals at five star

Smita Deo (48), BSc (specializing in textile manufacturing and design) has been cooking since the age of 13. She has been blogging about food since 2014 and cooking menus for food festivals at five star hotels across India since 2016. She has an impressive 22.7 lakh subscribers on her YouTube channel, Get Curried and over 24,000 followers on Instagram … and the numbers are increasing!

How did your culinary journey begin? And who introduced you to blogging?

It was my mother, Khaki (aunt) and Amma (grandmother) who introduced me to cooking at the age of 10 and I haven’t stopped since. In 2013, while I was writing my first cookbook, Karwar to Kolhapur via Bombay, I met Deepti Kasbekar. She became my close friend and ultimately the editor of my book. She was the one who suggested that I write a culinary blog.

Cheryl Bhorania

Did you start cooking for your passion or to build your brand and possibly a source of income?

For me, my kitchen is a temple and cooking is like offering prayers. Cooking and feeding family, friends and acquaintances is therapeutic and gives me immense pleasure and satisfaction. I believe food brings people together and writing about food connects you with people. Besides, what better way of life can there be, when, while doing your favorite thing in the world (in my case cooking), your brand is being built?

What is your culinary expertise?

I am a Goud Saraswat Brahmin and my hometown is Aversa, a small picturesque village near Karwar in northern Karnataka. I have known Karwari cuisine since I was born and Kolhapur cuisine after my marriage 25 years ago. So I specialize in these two cuisines.

Does your blog / menu specialize in all types of food?

Most of my blogs are about unique recipes and food related stories from North Karanataka and Maharashtra. For the past two years, I’ve blogged about breakfast ideas for most of my readers looking to cook recipes indigenous to Maharashtra and Karnataka. Three years ago, I wrote a series of tiffin tales that talked about simple, exciting, everyday nutritious meals that could be packaged for kids and adults as well. Currently, I am working on the rare and lost Maharashtra recipes, which I hope to be successful in publishing soon.

What is your audience base?

The response has been overwhelming from the start … Barless Age. Strangely enough, I have a large following among people who stay abroad, including some of foreign origin.

What was your most successful experience?

Over the past six years, I have replaced non-stick cookware with clay pots and cast iron and kansa utensils in my kitchen. The use of mortar and pestle (he beat) has also changed the flavors of food in my home. It really appealed to the public.

Describe your writing process, from conception to publication …

My recipes always tell their story, which dates back to my childhood or something I recently experienced. It instantly connects me with a lot. A detailed description always helps a lot. Sharing the recipe without secret ingredients, simple steps to cook, and finally an aesthetic visual presentation of your food, is in my opinion a perfect recipe for a good food blog.

A memorable meal that you organized?

If I had to think of such a meal, it would be when I hosted a traditional dish for a food festival at Trident at BKC Mumbai. I was busy in the kitchen with my team. A guest who had ordered just about everything on the menu expressed a desire to meet the chef. Despite my anxiety, I stood up confidently and greeted him. He lowered his spoon and looked up with wet eyes and said that what I had cooked reminded him of his grandmother and the flavors took him back to his childhood.

My happiness knew no borders. He was a person of Indian descent (Karnataka) who had lived in the United States of America since he was a young adult and after many years had returned to his roots. During the next few days that he was in Mumbai, he showed up for all meals at Trident and requested Karnataka dishes that were not on the menu, and I gladly accepted. A memorable incident because I had managed to remind a person of their past and a loved one through food.

How to attract new readers?

Foods should have a scent, visual appeal and taste. But when writing about food, the first thing to keep in mind is the visual that immediately catches the reader.

Gassi sheep

Ingredients

1kg of mutton

Salt to taste

3 tbsp ghee

3 medium onions, finely chopped

Paste 1

Brown over low heat with 1 tablespoon ghee and grind to obtain a fine paste of the following ingredients:

1 inch cinnamon stick

1 tablespoon of poppy seeds

1 tablespoon of coriander seeds

1 tsp of fennel seeds

8 cloves

1 mass

1 tablespoon of stone flower

tsp nutmeg

1 teaspoon of black cumin seeds

1 star anise

2 bay leaves

10 black peppercorns

2 black cardamoms

15 dry red peppers

Paste 2

Brown in 2 tablespoons ghee and grind the following ingredients into a paste:

2 medium onions, sliced

½ fresh grated coconut

15 sec bedgi chili peppers

(or any spicy medium

dried peppers)

2 inches of ginger

6-7 large cloves of garlic

Method

Heat ghee and add the onions and fry them, they turn brown. Add the mutton and sear it for 3-4 minutes. Add dough 1 and fry until the oil separates. Then add dough 2 and sauté 3 to 4 minutes more. Add a liter of water, salt to taste and cook until the mutton is cooked. Serve it hot with soft rice cooked in coconut milk.

(For more recipes and blogs, visit her website smitahegdedeo.com)

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Posted on: Sunday October 24th, 2021 07:52 IST


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