There are plenty of food blogs and websites across the web, but somehow a few stand out for their sheer sincerity and love for food. Here’s one such food blog that we chanced upon called ‘Cooking Delights’ that inspired us and we want to share her story with you.
This story is highly inspirational. It just goes to show that there is no age for learning and one can start pursuing their dreams anytime they want as long as they believe in themselves and of course, having the support of their loved ones is also an added advantage.
We chatted with 57-year-old Delhi based food blogger Illa Sinha, a doting mother of two, about her love for cooking and food blogging that has helped her rediscover her life and confidence in a whole new way.
How did it all begin?
It all began with a laptop gifted to her by her son on her daughter’s wedding that introduced Illa to a whole new world of Internet.
“My son Anshuman, helped me a lot and became my computer teacher and guide. Distance did not deter him from helping and teaching me through Skype. Once it took me 30 minutes of frustrated conversation to figure out that ‘Control’ is a button on the keyboard not the cursor controlled by the mouse as I had thought!” recalls Illa.
He encouraged his mom to have a cooking blog of her own so that they could follow her recipes while working and staying away from her. Her daughter Vasudha helped Illa with the designing of the blog and she owes it entirely to her children that this blog has opened up a new chapter in her life.
She adds, “Prior to blogging, cooking was very simple for me. There were no timers, measurements or weights. I didn’t take notes or maintain dairies. I never thought about camera angles, composition or lighting and plating the food was never a concern for me. I just used to cook and serve.” Now as we can tell from her gorgeous food blog, how amazing a cook can Illa be.
“In the beginning I was not very good at taking pictures, as I didn’t even know how to use a digital camera,” admits Illa.
She continues, “Every dish has taught me to cook better and to improvise in all aspects. I still remember the day I first cooked and took pictures. I was nervous. Being a shy person I never liked anybody other than my family members in my kitchen and here I was giving a peep of my kitchen to people through my cooking. But this thought bothered me only the first day. I love to share my recipes with everyone. It gives me immense joy to cook and post new recipes in my blog. My blog has taught me many good things and has made me a more confident person.”
The other challenge was that sometimes many ingredients were not easily available in the market. She recalls, “Initially I searched a lot of different markets to find the right baking trays, cups, measuring spoons, ingredients or greens. Anshuman was a great help, he looked up on the Internet the places I could visit to find the specific items.”
The training called life
Illa has not received any kind of formal training in cooking. Her mother was a great cook who loved trying different styles of food and was a quick learner who could easily replicate a dish, just by tasting it just once.
“But I could not learn much from her since I was away from home in a boarding school and later in a college hostel. In fact cooking was distant for me. When I got married I only knew how to cook the traditional mutton curry and aloo bhujia and few more simple vegetables. Cooking something as simple as rice was also difficult. Most of the time I would over cook it,” smiles Illa.
Just after one year of college education she got married and never had the chance to stay at her in-law’s home and learn new recipes. What she learnt was through her husband and her sister-in-law.
“But very soon I picked up and started trying recipes from some of the magazines available at home such as Illustrated Weekly.”
Her blog, her life
20 years ago a very close friend had gifted Illa a book called Cooking Delights of The Maharajas by Digvijaya Singh.
“It was my first cookery book and I have made a few delicious and tasty dishes following the recipes from there and that’s how I came up with the name for my very own cooking blog,” mentions Illa.
She created her food blog to make cooking easy for her children and their friends who live away from home. Some of the recipes found on the blog are traditional, with some favourites but most are first time cooked or baked recipes.
“I always try recipes which fascinate me and which I think my family would enjoy. My recipes are written in detail with pictures. Putting pictures of different stages of cooking or baking makes cooking very easy. With the right measurement, accurate cooking time and temperature and following each step makes it easy to cook efficiently,” explains Illa.
She further adds, “My blog Cooking Delights, has made me more mobile and now I travel a lot more. I travel all over Delhi in the Metro to find the ingredients I need. Because of the blog, I am now very comfortable with travelling alone to different markets in Delhi and I enjoy using the Metro.”
If she gets all the ingredients for a new dish and the dish comes out well, Illa derives an immense sense of satisfaction.
“Success makes me move on and failure makes me learn and think about my mistakes and to improvise on them. Sometimes I don’t know what is more challenging – cooking, baking, plating or taking pictures. It’s a long way ahead and I am still learning. For me, every dish is a challenge and I do not post it on my blog until I am satisfied. I am still learning and keep on visiting and watching other videos online where I get to know about new dishes and different cuisines of other countries,” says a modest Illa.
Cooking Delights has opened a window for Illa where she can see the beautiful world of talented people trying out new cuisines and cooking. She can learn more about cooking styles in various corners of the world. Cooking Delights is not her hobby anymore, but it has become a part of her.
“These recipes fascinate me. It is always a pleasure preparing them. I also like making fruit salad and summer pudding, which are my very own recipes,” adds Illa.
The response that Illa gets is tremendous, as anyone who has tasted her cooking has loved it!
“Food is never repeated and there is always an element of surprise for them. I get a lot of – “So what’s for dinner?” or “What’s for dessert?” and I am always looking for something new to make. Some desserts, which I have recently made has pleasantly surprised my family members.
Baking goodies fresh off the oven always tastes delicious. The texture is soft and tender. For example, chocolate éclairs, profiteroles and chocolate cupcakes are the super hit at the dinner table for her family members.
She recalls, “Amitesh (my son -in -law) has a sweet tooth and he loves the desserts and cupcakes I make. When I had made chocolate éclairs for the first time, he was overjoyed. It brought back memories from school when he used to go to Wenger’s (a confectionary shop in Connaught Place, Delhi) just to get a taste of his favourite chocolate éclairs. He was thrilled to know that it could be made at home! It made me very happy to make it for him.”
Now how we wish that we could take the first flight to Delhi to indulge in some really delightful cooking by Illa!
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