There was something about the pandemic and the lockdown that unleashed the inner chef in all of us. The new-found love for cooking, led people to search for all sorts of recipes and cooking hack. Dalgona coffee, mug recipes, shakshouka had mind-boggling search values, but what was also slowly emerging as a welcome trend was our passion for regional cuisine. Pune-based home chef Madhura Bachal of Madhurasrecipe fame has consistently enthralled us with her Maharashtrian recipes. From popular to fairly obscure recipes, Madhura made us love with the rich Maharashtrian cuisine over the lockdown. But did you know that the home chef has built a strong community of fans and followers since the year 2009. Madhura also makes videos on simple cooking tips and hacks for beginners. We caught up with the Marathi home chef for an exclusive chat. Excerpts...

Q1: When did you start shooting food recipes? What gave you the idea?

Ans:  I started my journey as a food blogger in 2009, and it’s been more than a decade now. I discovered the power of social media while I was writing blogs around Marathi cuisine. It was all quite new and was an unexplored territory for me. Without possessing any professional equipment, I just started shooting with a basic point-shoot camera, a borrowed tripod, and in-house lighting.  

I got the idea of becoming a content creator while searching for Marathi food recipes such as Vada Pav, Puran Poli on social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube. Realizing the lack of Marathi food recipes on these platforms, I envisioned my channel - Madhurasrecipe, to showcase my love for the cuisine and spread awareness at the same time.

Q2: You reach out to millions today with your recipes? Did you expect to be so big? What are your future plans?

Ans: Frankly, I never expected to reach such large audiences. It took me 4 years to cross my first 100K followers. 1 million was like a dream that came true in the year 2018 after working for over 9 years. If you ask me, I still do not have a long-term plan in place. I believe in starting with small things. However, what remained with me throughout is the main objective to spread awareness about Marathi cuisine and get people acquainted with it.  

Q3: How instrumental has social media platform like Facebook been in your journey  

Ans: Facebook has played a huge role in my success, especially in reaching out to a global audience. It has always been an integral part of my content and overall strategy and has been the go-to platform whenever I want to experiment with different formats. I am able to engage with fans and get immediate feedback that helps me focus on content formats that resonate well with my audience.

Q4: Take us through your day, right from conceiving a video idea to actually shooting it. What is the process?

Ans: It is definitely a long process to come up with the content idea. It requires a lot of research, reading, and even visiting locations if required. My content planning usually starts at least a month in advance. Throughout the process, I also consider seasonal ingredients and recipes, and align content according to our Indian festivals and holidays. People love to consume content that resonates with them and is topical. For instance- currently, it is the monsoon season, so my preference is to go for rainy season recipes like pakoras, hot tea/coffee, and much more.  

Q5: A recipe of yours you didn't expect to get so popular

Ans: Many recipe videos took me by surprise. Recently I posted a recipe of Kobiche thalipeeth which is nothing but cabbage paratha. Normally people do not like cabbage a lot, but by adding a little twist with easy steps, the video went viral on Facebook. Within days it crossed over 2.5 million and overall, it has performed over 15 times than my regular content which was surprising for me.  

Q6: A recipe video you wish had more likes and views

Ans: Recently I posted a very creative recipe for Roll Samosa, but it performed average overall. Normally while creating content, we always feel that this video will do well. However, there are many reasons which I feel impact overall engagement, including events like pandemic-induced lockdowns, floods, natural calamities, or things which are not in our control.  

Q7: What are the challenges of being a social media content creator? Especially in your realm  

Ans: One needs to be creative consistently and innovate with recipes. It needs continuous research and keeping up with trends that is working for our audiences.  

Q8: Your go-to recipe

Ans: My go to recipes are traditional and forgotten Maharashtrian recipes from our earlier generation that I am keen to bring back. I have witnessed high engagement around such content.  

Q9: Who are your cooking inspirations?

Ans: My cooking inspiration has always been my mother. She is an excellent cook. I had grown up watching her. Additionally, my grandmother was also a very good cook. She mastered Maharashtrian cuisines and mainly all festival recipes.

Q10: If we only had 10 minutes and basic ingredients, which recipe you would recommend us to cook

Ans: I guess, Maharashtrian Sheera (Sooji Halwa) is my all-time recommended recipe since it gets ready in a short time and with very limited ingredients available at home.

Q11:  The most useful cooking hack or tip that you would like to give a beginner  

Ans: Many small tips come in handy in our day-to-day cooking starting from Tadka, cooking time, and many more. One of the tips is that if you are making spicy dishes like Misal or Non-veg recipes, and if you want restaurant-like colour in the gravy then always add hot water to retain color from spices.  

Q12: Some tips for creators who are starting out  

Ans: I would suggest a careful and well-thought-out planning of the content. Invest some time in studying and learning what viewers would like to see from you. Consistency is a key to growing your audience. Try to be consistent even if it’s a single video in a week.  Finally, I'll urge everyone to keep learning by reading books, articles, watching videos, and listening to podcasts.