The Food Blogging Community: Kavey EatsSeptember 16th, 2010
Blogging since: April 2009
Blog address: www.kaveyeats.com
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My parents came to England from India in the late sixties. I was born in London in the early seventies, my little sister 3 years later. My parents never originally intended to stay for more than a few years. But I spent a year and a day back in India as a baby and it didn’t agree with me, health-wise, at all. So our little clan of Guptas settled permanently in England, moving to Luton when I was four.
There are a few key things that have influenced my childhood, my life, who I am, how I think, what I believe, my loves and hates. Firstly, having that Indian background meant a different view of the wider world from a very young age, an understanding of how people around the world are different and how they are the same, of cultures and foods and lifestyles. We would visit family in India every couple of years – we had no relatives here – and my sister and I were fascinated by the colourful shops selling strange things, by the crazy traffic jams of bicycle and motorised rikshaws, carts pulled by snorting buffalo, mopeds and motorbikes, Ambassadors and Fiats, madly unbalanced and overloaded Tata trucks painted with gaudy colours, religious mottos and declarations of love for this or that Bollywood star, everyone with horns blazing as they veered like lunatics from one verge to the other, avoiding the cows sat sedately in the fast lane, fascinated too by the alien eating habits and food, by the direct inquisitiveness of complete strangers let alone family members… I could write an entire essay on seeing India through British-Indian eyes!
At home, mum would cook not only Indian and British food but Italian, Greek, Chinese plus recipes she collected on our travels (Peruvian peanut soup, anyone?) We helped in the kitchen, of course. And back when I was at school the curriculum still included cookery lessons where we learned to make proper dishes like crumbles, stew and dumplings, pizzas (from scratch), eccles cake, bread and more…
After school I spent a year out (most of it in France) before heading up to Warwick University where I stumbled through a degree in French and History and, more importantly, met my husband, Pete, and many of our closest friends.
Pete and I married young – a couple of months after I graduated. That was over 15 years ago. We bought our house in NW London back then too.
Fast forward to now, we both work for ourselves through our limited company, predominantly as IT contractors with some additional projects in other areas. We take full advantage of this format to take as much time off as we can to travel and enjoy life. It’s a cliché to find a great work life balance, but it’s important to us and we make it happen. We have a lot of fun.
With my mum, we’ve been running a family recipe website, Mamta’s Kitchen since back in 2001. Through the site we share hundreds of home-cooking recipes, predominantly Indian but with some international dishes too. We hit the five million visitor mark some months back.
These days, I’ve added food blogging (and the resulting social life) into the mix – busy busy busy!
How would you describe your blog?
My blog is a collection of posts about all my foodie experiences whether they are dining out or eating in, trying out new cookery books, going to food shows and farmers markets, reminiscing about childhood favourites, trying out new products or just sharing a few photographs.
When I started, it was quite a learning curve in terms of what to write about, how best to present the information, what to put in and what to leave out…
Over the last year and a half, I’ve become more confident in my content and writing and been able to see what my readers respond most strongly to. That’s helped shape my style and I’ve come to enjoy sharing more personal stories and memories within my posts. Comments on a few recent posts tell me that readers also like posts which include some interesting history or teach them new skills or information.
I strive to be true to myself in everything that I post. I write what I genuinely think and feel. I’ve been told that my passion and excitement about food comes through, and if that’s so, it pleases me immensely.
Where do you find inspiration for your cooking and blogging?
I’m based in London, which I reckon is one of the best cities in the world for fabulous and amazingly diverse food experiences. I love taking advantage of that as much as possible – there are so many fantastic restaurants, with new ones opening all the time, that I could keep Kavey Eats going with restaurant reviews alone!
However, I also enjoy blogging a mix of recipes, cookery book reviews, product trials, interviews with chefs, reviews of cookery classes, feedback on food festivals and even nostalgic trips down memory lane…
During the last decade, Pete and I have transformed our garden into a home lottie, where we grow our own fruit and veg. Finding ways to use a glut of courgettes or kilos of green tomatoes is a challenge I know others face too!
I’ve been interested in photography since I was a kid, so this is another element I like to bring into the blog.
Most recently, I’ve co-opted my husband into contributing too – he now writes the ‘Pete Drinks’ series of posts.
There is so much to talk about that my biggest problem isn’t finding inspiration and topics for the blog but finding the time to write and post everything I want to share!
What do you like the most and the least about blogging?
I love the sense of community that exists between bloggers and has resulted in so many wonderful new friendships and shared experiences in the last year and a half. Spending time with people who share my passions – or as some might call them, obsessions – is a lot of fun and I’m definitely enjoying the blogger social scene.
I also really love sharing my opinions and feelings with others and being able to get their reaction via blog comments, emails, twitter and real life get togethers. When you start blogging, there’s a question mark about whether you’ll simply end up shouting in a vacuum, with no-one listening. Whilst I write for my own satisfaction, I’d be lying if I pretended that the resulting dialogue isn’t important to me. It probably makes me sound like a newbie but, even now, I feel thrilled when people leave comments on my blog.
A few friends assume it’s all about the freebies but, in the most part, the complimentary treats that excite me the most are invitations to events that aren’t available to paying punters such as special talks and tutored tasting sessions by top chocolatiers, tea specialists, cheese experts… one-off tasting menus devised by top chefs, product and restaurant launch parties and being asked to do crazy things like rustle something up from a bag of mystery ingredients, on stage, in front of a live audience, at the MC Live show! Of course I’m not saying that being sent lovely things to review isn’t a hardship!
Blogging is a hobby so there’s really not a lot I don’t like – I wouldn’t do it otherwise!
A few things do frustrate me: one is the constant comparison of bloggers to professional journalists and the assumption that etiquette, “rules”, expectations, influence and a whole lot more are – or ought to be – the same. Whilst the line between traditional print media and online content is becoming softer, there are still distinctions and I simply don’t think it’s fair or relevant to think of or treat bloggers as journalists-lite.
Another disappointment is internal blogger politics. There are always a few bloggers who believe it’s their way or the highway and vocally criticise others who choose to do things differently. Gentle suggestions and discussions about blogger etiquette are not a bad idea, but I am not happy when people are prescriptive about it. I’m more a ‘live and let live’ kind of girl.
Oh wait, there’s one thing that does make me mad actually – content theft. I hate, Hate HATE it when lazy, unscrupulous %!&*$ steal text and images and pass them off as their own, claiming credit for the skills and efforts of the original creators. Grrrr!
Do you have a favourite recipe you’d like to share?
Last year, through the UKFBA that you founded and look after, I hosted a stall at the Covent Garden Real Food Market. I branded it Kavey Eats and Mamta’s Kitchen and my mum and Pete both helped me make produce and man the stall on the day.
One of the things that I received the most lovely feedback on was home-made tomato ketchup, made to my grandfather’s recipe.
Nana’s Spicy Tomato Ketchup
2 kilograms ripe tomatoes
1 small (75 grams) onion
2-3 large cloves garlic
2 sweet red peppers
50-75 gm. sugar
100 ml. white / light coloured vinegar
3-4 tablespoons water
Whole spices (tied in muslin or cheese cloth)
1 tsp. cloves
4 black cardamoms or badi illaichi
1 tsp. whole black peppers or kali mirch
1/4-1/2 tsp. cumin seeds or jeera
2-3 inch pieces of cinnamon sticks or dalchini
Ground spices and seasoning
A large pinch of nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon. chilli powder (adjust to taste)
1 tablepoon ground mustard seeds or mustard powder
2-3 teaspoons salt
Quarter tomatoes, slice sweet pepper, peel and chop onion, peel garlic.
Place these in a large pan, with the whole spices tied in a piece of muslin, and 3-4 tablespoons of water. This water will stop the tomatoes ‘catching’ at the bottom, before they release their own water.
Cook until soft. (You can use a pressure cooker or microwave if you prefer).
Allow to cool a little. Remove spice bag.
If cooked in pressure cooker/microwave, drain off any clear, watery liquid that is at the top – these cooking methods don’t allow any evaporation during the cooking and the resulting puree is too watery.
Blend the cooked tomatoes and then press through a wire sieve, to remove skin and seed residue.
Discard skin and seeds. You should have approximately 2 litres of smooth tomato pulp left.
Place pulp in a pan with the nutmeg, chilli powder and mustard powder and bring to boil. Boil briskly. When it begins to thicken (which can take 30-40 minutes or longer), add the vinegar and a third of the sugar. Continue cooking until ketchup consistency is reached.
Add salt and as much of the remaining sugar as you prefer, to taste.
While still hot, pour into heated sterile jars/bottles and seal them.
Allow to cool completely. Store in a cool, dark place..
Recipe © Mamta’s Kitchen 2001-present