WHO AM I?
I am Aparna, a free lance food photographer and food blogger for the last 8 years . We are from the beautiful Indian state of Kerala (famous for its coconut trees, backwaters and ayurveda)
and now live in Goa (known for its beaches, churches and Portuguese influenced cuisine). After a very long innings in Goa, we left in April 2016 to go back home to Kerala. Though we left with heavy hearts and a part of us will always belong to Goa, we're excited to go back home and start a new chapter there.
My family is vegetarian by tradition and by choice, though we do eat eggs occasionally. We enjoy good food and are willing to try anything at least once, so long as it is vegetarian.
For me, the kitchen and the dining table (by extension) is really the heart of my home and food is something that all of us can connect with not just our personal memories but also with other people. This blog is my way of sharing some of our food experiences and glimpses of our lives through my recipes, food related stories and food photography.
WHAT IS THIS BLOG ABOUT?
Good food, conversations and stories centred around food and lots of food photography. When I started the blog I couldn't settle on a name that reflected what I wanted this blog to be about. In the middle of a discussion about this, my daughter suddenly hit upon the name "My Diverse Kitchen" and decided to christen my blog with it! I went along because it seemed to reflect my vision for the blog which was to feature a good variety in food, recipes and food related stories.
When I started writing this blog, my focus was an attempt to collect, put together and share the recipes from our traditional Palakkad Iyer cuisine. I come from Palakkad, a part of South India that is in Kerala but close to the border with the neighbouring state of Tamilnadu. Our community is made up of descendants of people who migrated from Tamilnadu to Kerala a few centuries back and settled down in Palakkad. Over the years, this purely vegetarian community (they don't eat eggs and traditionally do not use even onions or garlic) has developed a unique vegetarian cuisine that is an interesting and mouth watering blend of Tamil and Kerala ingredients and food culture.
This purely vegetarian style of cooking makes extensive use of vegetables and lentils and lots of coconut. Since Palakkad is a predominantly rice growing area, our traditional cooking is also very much centred on rice. Palakkad Iyer cuisine is also predominantly gluten-free and vegan except some desserts and other recipes where there is the use of milk and milk products like yogurt (curds) and ghee (Indian version of browned butter).
I am not a chef, nor do I have formal training in the culinary arts. I do love good food, and grew up surrounded by womenfolk who were all very good cooks. Both my paternal and maternal grandmothers, and my mother were known in the family for their cooking skills. They were also supposed to have what we traditionally referred to as "Kaipunyam" which would roughly translate as "magic of the hand", that special something that was not in the recipe but added a special something to everything they cooked and served. I guess it meant they cooked with love.
I like to believe that some of that has rubbed of on me and shows in my cooking too. While what I cook most of the time are well balanced meals from my native cuisine, we also enjoy exploring other cuisines and dishes, many of which I attempt to recreate in my kitchen.
All the recipes on this blog have been tried out in my kitchen and largely reflect our preferences. If they have not worked for you, it could be because of various reasons. I personally see recipes more as a set of directions or guidelines which can be followed intuitively and adapted to suit our taste. That's also how I see the recipes on this blog.
Baking is not a traditionally Indian method of cooking but has always fascinated me. I especially enjoy baking bread and you can see my baking successes here, so much so, you might be forgiven for thinking this is a baking blog!
NAVIGATING THE BLOG AND THE RECIPE INDEX :
This blog has recently been given a makeover to make it easier to read, navigate and search of recipes. A lot of the recipes on this blog, especially those belonging to my native Palakkad Iyer cuisine are gluten-free and vegan, and they are marked with GF and V in the title of the post signifying if they are either or both. You can also find all the gluten-free and vegan recipes on the blog under those titles indexed under the "Recipe Index" on the menu bar under the header.
All my recipes here are available under the "Recipe Index" under various categories listed there. They're also categorized under sub-categories like type of Cuisine, Course, Diet and Difficulty of Preparation to make searching for recipes easier.
Apart from this you can always use the search box on the top right hand side on the home page in case you want to search for any recipe in particular.
**WHY DO YOU USE CUP MEASUREMENTS RATHER THAN MORE ACCURATE WEIGHT MEASUREMENTS IN YOUR RECIPES? **
It's true that I use cup measurements rather than weight measurements while cooking and I do this for two reasons. The first one was that I did not (and still really do not) feel the need to weigh out my ingredients as measuring them out with cups almost always works for me. After all, in the old days, home cooks and bakers never weighed out ingredients and it worked for them.
While weighing is a more precise and perhaps scientific way of doing things, I believe most recipes (there are always exceptions) work well so long as the ingredients are used in the right proportions to one another.
I do have kitchen scales but I end up using measuring cups, unless the recipe depends upon exactly weighed ingredients. All the recipes on this blog use standard American measuring cups and spoons.
YOU EAT EGGS. SO WHY ALL THE EGG-FREE RECIPES?
We do eat eggs on and off but with a couple of exceptions we really like them better when they're disguised as in bakes. Sometimes when the number of eggs used in certain bakes and desserts, they tend to stand out with an "eggy" smell and flavour which we don't like. For that reason, you will find quite a few recipes here where I have substituted for eggs quite successfully.
WHAT CAMERA AND LENSES DO YOU USE FOR FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY?
I know that many people think you can take better photographs with an expensive camera and gear. While more expensive cameras do provide a better quality of photography because they have better sensors, it really is the photographer who makes all the difference. However, for those who are interested in the gear I use here goes......
For most of the first 2 years of writing this blog, I used my point and shoot which is a Canon Powershot A550. I then moved to a Canon 450D with kit lens (Canon Ef-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS). The two lenses I use for my food photography are the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens and the Canon EF 100mm f/ 2.8 USM Macro lens. I recently upgraded to a Canon 60D. I also have the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/ 4-5.6 lens. I mostly use both the zoom lenses for non food photography.
I NOTICED YOU DO COOKBOOK REVIEWS………
Yes, I do review cookbooks and I’m open to doing restaurant reviews and food product reviews as long as they reflect they way we eat. By this, I mean we are vegetarian and avoid using highly processed food products whenever possible. I do however, reserve the right to express my own honest opinions about the cookbooks or products I am reviewing.
I OFTEN VISIT YOUR BLOG AND COMMENT ON YOUR POSTS BUT YOU DON'T SEEM TO RETURN THE GESTURE.........
Thank you so much for dropping by and leaving your comments. It really means a lot to me to know that what I’m doing on my blog is appreciated. I do read every comment left on my posts, and also answer queries.
If no one read my blog, never asked a question or left a comment about my posts/ recipes/ photographs, didn’t tell me how my recipe turned out, there wouldn’t be much point in keeping this going.
If you have asked a question regarding my post or something else then I most definitely will answer it, usually within 3 or 4 days. If by some chance I have not answered your query, please do not hesitate to remind me.
As for visiting everyone who leaves a comment at my posts, please understand that it is impossible for me to visit each and every blogger who comments on my blog, much as I would love to. While I am quite serious about my blog, there are other things in my life which take priority. This means that I have limited time to spend on blog related activities, I have to prioritize my time . That said, you might just see me on your blog unannounced, on and off! I'll definitely be seeing you on my social media.
ABOUT THE COMMENTING POLICY ON THIS BLOG.....
I am making a point of stressing about against rude commenting on this blog because it is something that I feel very strongly about. I would love to hear from you, even if you are expressing an opinion which does not agree with my way of thinking. But please have your say without being rude. I set great store by politeness, and since this my blog I reserve the right to delete rude or obnoxious comments and will do so without hesitation.
I also request you all to not leave links in your comments here, to your blogs or events you are hosting on them. If you leave your comment and fill out the requisite box with the url to your blog, then it will show up in your comment so you do not need to otherwise link to your site.
You are of course, welcome to leave a link in your comments if you are pointing me towards a post or site that has something to do with my post. And most of all, thank you, for being understanding.
AND FINALLY, A FEW THOUGHTS I WANT TO SHARE ABOUT PLAGIARISM .....
This is addressed to that very small percentage of people (who probably will not be reading this) who feel the need to "borrow without permission", matter from blogs. Please understand that I put in a lot of time and effort into my pictures and posts.
All the matter on this blog is my own, whether text or pictures, unless mentioned otherwise. Wherever I have used pictures or text that is not my own or adapted recipes from elsewhere, I always credit my source by name and link to them.
I am flattered to think that there are some people out there who feel my stuff is good enough to be used, but I do not hold with this kind of "borrowing". So if you would like to use any of my pictures, please write to me. If you use or adapt any of my recipes, I would also appreciate it if you would link to that particular post of mine. I would also appreciate it if you let me know how you found it, good or otherwise. Thank you.
I hope you enjoy visiting my virtual kitchen and I hope to see you here again. If you have anything you would like to ask or say to me, please feel free to write to me.