We are happy to introduce Vaidehi Bhave Mumbai based professional food blogger and proud owner of http://chakali.blogspot.com/
. Vaidehi started her blogging since May 2007. The blog "chakali" has over 500+ recipes, 1500+ Facebook fans and 3000+ comments. The blog is mainly about Maharshtrian cuisine, which is very dear to Vaidehi. In addition to the traditional Maharashtrian recipes, one can explore variety of recipes from other cuisines on chakali. She blogs all the recipes in Marathi as well as English.
1 NS: How did you come up with the name Chakali?
Vaidehi: It was 2007, when the idea of starting food blog was getting on my mind. And I was thinking hard for a name which can be easily remembered but very catchy and different. I wanted a name which represents Maharashtrian cooking. "chakali" fit perfectly there. It is my favorite snack, and almost everyone loves it!
2 NS: Tell us something about Maharashtra cuisine.
Vaidehi : Daily Maharashtrian meal consists of chapatis, bhaji (dry or/and with gravy), rice, amati (This is special type of Maharshtrian dal). To accompany this meal, there can be various sides like koshimbir (salad), papad and pickles. The style of making bhaji and amti varies from region to region. Example, Coastal region of Goa, you find generous amount of coconut and kokum (sour fruit with great flavor). Kolhapur and Vidarbha are famous for spicy creations.
There is variety of snacks like chiwada, bhakarwadi , puadachi vadi. There are great breakfast items like pohe, sabudana khichadi, ukad. Then there are many sweet delicacies like puranpoli, ukadiche modak, shrikhand, basundi. The flavor profile of Maharashtrian meal is enhanced by use of goda masala (also known as Maharashtrian masala).
The Maharashtrian thali is an experience. I would say everyone should try it once, and the love of it will last forever.
3 NS: Who is motivating force behind your blog?
Vaidehi: It would be hard to believe, but the blog and my reader are my motivating force. When I get great comments/emails from some of my readers, it gives me energy. Initially it started as a hobby. But now it has grown into my passion and something I am going to do as my career.
4 NS: Your fondest food memory?
Vaidehi: Cooking is an art. People eat their food with their eyes first, then their mouth. Modak is a famous Maharashtrian sweet. I think, making modak is an art. It requires lot of practice and patience. My mother-in-law makes very beautiful modaks. I tried making modak before my marriage, but never did well enough. My preliminary attempts were really disappointing. But, after a lot of practice I finally succeeded. I was very happy and I would never forget that fondest food memory.
5 NS: How do you drive traffic to your blog?
Vaidehi: I don't do anything special with getting traffic in mind. My philosophy is to focus on providing great content and responding my readers. I do have Facebook page. Sometimes, I share my recipes on forums. And that helps me to spread a word about my blog. There has been some media coverage for chakali from famous Marathi newspapers like Sakal, Loksatta and Maharashtra Times and that helped to drive the traffic to the blog.
6 NS. Do you think contact with users is important in blogging, how do you maintain contact with your users?
Vaidehi: It is very important to keep in touch with users. I maintain contact through emails and comments. Users communicate about their cooking experiments, recipe requests, suggestions etc. Responding immediately connects the user to your blog.
Vaidehiís favorite recipe
1 cup Chana Dal
1 cup Jaggery, grated
1 cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 cup Wheat Flour
7 to 8 tbsp. Oil (vegetable or Canola)
1 tsp. Cardamom Powder
1) Wash Chana Dal thoroughly. In the pressure cooker, add 2 and 1/2 cup water and washed Chana Dal. Pressure cook for 3 to 4 whistles. Then Turn off heat, but do not shift from the burner. Let the pressure cooker cool down. It will take about 25 minutes.
2) After 25 minutes open the pressure cooker, strain the cooked Chana dal and reserve the water. This water can be used to make 'Katachi Amati'. Remove water completely from dal. Then add this dal into a deep pan. Add jaggery in it and let this mixture cook over medium heat. Jaggery will melt and mixture will become thin in consistency. Keep stirring over medium heat until mixture become thick. Add cardamom powder and mix. Don't let the mixture stick to the bottom of pan. We are going to use this mixture as stuffing.
3) Once mixture become thick, remove the pan from heat. Let this mixture cool down. Grind it through a puran maker (Puran Yantra).
4) Sift all-purpose flour and wheat flour together. Add 5 to 6 tbsp. Oil and mix well. Now add water little by little and make very smooth consistency dough. Knead the dough until it becomes very elastic. Put this dough into a bowl and cover it with lid.
5) Make 1 and 1/2 inch balls of the stuffing. Also make 1/2 inch balls of the dough. Grease your fingertips and spread one dough ball gently to a small round disc. Put one stuffing ball in the center. Spread the dough gently over the stuffing's surface with fingers and cover the stuffing. Use dry all-purpose flour to roll the Roti. Heat the tawa, place rolled roti in the center and roast on both sides over medium heat.
These rotis stay fresh for approximately 4 day at room temperature.
Serve hot with Ghee. When cools down, it goes great with milk.
-----Interviewed by Laxmi Khalap Bhatt, Editor, www.narisakhi.com
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