Winner of numerous recipe and food photography contest, Shaheen Ali, founded Spoon, Fork & Food in 2014. Now, 4 years down the lane, she is one of the top 100 food bloggers in India and has made a place for herself as a food stylist and photographer too.
She has worked with numerous brands like Mealthy, ITC, Borosil, Paper Boat, Amazon and so on. And if you take a look at her blog and Instagram page, you will realize that her success is not surprising, but rather a result of her meticulousness and passion.
In this interview, Shaheen talks about her cooking inspirations, her blogging experience and her passion for cooking.
What inspired you to start “Spoon Fork and Food”?
I’m a physiotherapist by profession but somewhere my job and my duties were not enough to satisfy me. I always wanted to follow my dreams but wasn’t sure because of family responsibilities. In 2014 we shifted to Raipur from Bhopal and that’s how it all started. I was always good in cooking (thanks to my Mother) and one day my sister pushed me to start a blog. The idea sounded good to me as I could pen down all the recipes I have been cooking so far in one place. Being a novice I didn’t know how to write a blog and I just use to jot down the steps like we do in diaries. Lately after following a couple of established bloggers I got an idea as in how to create a good content that can give my blog a recognition.
As you mentioned in your blog, most homemakers rely on “approximation and eyeballing ingredients or ratios and proportions for measurements.” From there, how do you refine your method for food blogging where your recipes need to have exact measurements?
Oh yes, we all know our mom’s and grandma’s mostly work in kitchen without a written recipe in hand. The variations they made were on basis of their palate, family’s taste and of course the authenticity of the dish. Well at least I never saw my mom using measuring spoons in kitchen. Like we say in Hindi everything used be in ‘andaaz se’. So I grew up learning the same… though it never comes perfect the very first time but yes it definitely gives and idea of approximation.
But when I came into blogging I had to step out of my kitchen and got a chance to explore dishes from various parts of the world. There are cuisine where approximation doesn’t work, you have to be perfect with your measurements to get that exact flavour. So now I can say I have aced in both techniques..haha!
What is the best and worst thing about being a food blogger?
Food blogging has been the best decision for me. Though every success comes with a lot of hard phases too. But according to me the best thing being a food blogger is :
1. Great career option
2. Social and professional exposure
3. Self confidence
4. Immense growth in culinary knowledge
6. Name Fame & Status
Bad thing about being a food blogger are :
1. The ugly competition we get into (even if we don’t want to).
2. If you are working with brands then they don’t consider your problems and demand work within the deadline.
3. Sleeping disorders also affects health at some point of time.
4. Constant upgrading of blog and set ups that itself is a heavy investment.
5. And lastly people treat you as a food judge in every family gathering ?
Which is your favorite cuisine?
I’m a big time desi Indian foodie. Though I like to explore international cuisines too but when it comes to favorite its always Indian food…particularly Bengali, Rajasthani and South Indian cuisines.
What are your cooking inspirations?
Always my mother because she has been the only pillar in my life who taught me how to light up a stove to what I am today. I owe all my achievements to her and a small part to my husband also because he is my best kitchen companion. As I’m an avid reader hence I’m inspired by couple of chefs and food writers as well.
What ingredients do you try to avoid in your dishes and what ingredients can you simply not do without?
I personally love using fresh ingredients as much as I can. Like I said I love Indian food hence the two ingredients I feel completes my dishes are Ghee & Fresh Coriander.
Ingredients I don’t using in my recipes are Beef, Pork, Alcohol
Finally, what should a new reader expect from your blog?
• Easy language
• Less storytelling
• Simplified recipes
• Flamboyant images