YouTube Takes Indian Cuisines to New Heights

By Premlata Venkataraman

When it is time to make Diwali sweets I am filled with excitement and anticipation. In the beginning it is all optimism with a lurking doubt that not everything will come out a success! With a 2-year old grandson to introduce to the Diwali festivities, I was very excited.

What was surprising this year was I didn’t have to look at my voluminous recipe folder even once! Those painstakingly collected recipes from mothers and mothers-in-law, friends and foes alike. These were hand-written using pens of all colors on scraps paper — one even in a crayon!! My collection adorned with numerous stains, make sense only to me.

Then came the Internet and YouTube. All I did was to scour the web for recipes and came up with a list. I got not only the recipe, but also techniques in video clips from a plethora of web sources.  It was so much fun researching the techniques, evaluating them and wondering if they would translate into my old favorites.

Finally, the wonderful and wide-ranging cuisines of India—with many different regional flavorful variations for the same item—have been elevated onto the world stage. It is about time! Many Indian women—and a few Indian men as well—all excellent in their culinary skills, have found a medium in YouTube to share with others  their recipes with step-by-step instructions, easy to follow even for novices.

Techniques and shortcuts to simplify recipes, microwaving to reduce long stove-times, and health-conscious suggestions to reduce calorie counts have pretty much erased the mystique in making Indian sweets and snacks. With detailed video clips showing the critical stages, there are no more hidden secrets—it is all out there for the curious cook to discover.

Here are the items I made this Deepavali. Pedas that reduced prep time to 15 minutes using the microwave from Gulab Jamuns from taught in the pleasant voice of a woman old enough to be my daughter!! Of course, Manjula’s Kitchen hosted by Manjula Jain, taught me so many techniques for eating healthy, and is now my go-to site for making dinner.  The reduced-fat recipe for Mysore Paak from Jeyashri’s Kitchen cut down sugar and ghee by half allowing me an almost guilt-free indulgence of this calorie-laden sweet.

Thattais and murukkus I got from Raks Kichen, and for the delicious Andhra recipes I go to Sanjay Thumma’s And of course, Sanjeev Kapoor’s is my teacher for recipes for the delicious items made on the streets of Mumbai to the villages in Punjab!

So I brought Diwali 2013 into my home through the Internet.

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