14 Oct The Chatkhor Swati Raman
Avid cooks have long recognized the therapeutic power of kitchen. It’s creativity with some measure of pleasure, and you can enjoy the results right away, that’s how most describe it. The latest addition to the bandwagon was the lovely Swati Raman who after spending little less than a decade in number crunching and data management for various startups and companies like Amdocs, oracle etc is back to what soothes her soul – “Cooking”. Swati aka Chatkhor is the reigning queen of The Food Saga and is amongst the most flamboyant food bloggers from India’s Silicon Valley. She welcomed us to her humble aboard and took us through her culinary escapades.
Swati a TamBram grew up in Jamshedpur with plethora of communities like Parsi, Bengali, Punjabi living in the same periphery which made her exploration to food just not limited to Sambhar rice. Sharing of meals and food in the neighborhood was a given practice. The cook-offs, which are catching up in the country now, were part of her childhood days. Swati lost her mother at a very tender age and cooking became a necessity. But this never burdened her and gradually she started to enjoy the process of learning and experimenting. ‘Since I was exposed to so many cuisines I always tried to inculcate the recipes or the techniques in my daily cooking, which I still do’. Oh By the way, we forgot to mention Swati was making for us Nutella Brownies and she checked if we will be ok for sangria. We only had a grin on our face to this as an answer.
While she prepared the batter with some generous amount of butter and chocolate and Nutella she reminisced how after 8 years in IT sector, she realised her true calling and and started her blog as a medium to document rather save the recipes I have been collecting. She still like learning from elders because they have seen the ups and downs in the cooking and exactly knows what works and what doesn’t. ‘I am very old school; I still go and bug the order generation for the recipes’.
Just like every episode in her life, marriage also happened early with most of the couples friends were bachelors. So needless to say they had people all the time for FOOD. ‘All our weekend mornings were spent preparing the menu and the evenings in cooking. Also, we didn’t like to go out much as we were cooking up a storm in the kitchen all the time’.
One thing Swati doesn’t understand is repetition so be it her hubby’s lunch pack or snack boxes for the clients, you will always find something new each time. ‘For the orders I take, I ask my clients to give me the liberty to experiment with flavours and in return what they get has thankfully never disappointed them’ she says with a giggle putting the batter in the oven. With Internet as the most important bible to a budding chef and Master Chef Australia as a guiding light I got exposed to so much more in the culinary world, she tells us as she recalls the time she won a Gourmet trip to Australia in a contest. ‘I wrote to some of my favourite contestants of Master Chef Australia and even met a few on that trip.’ Lucky you !!
Even though major cooking was always happening baking happened to her after she started the blog.
Cooking is in our genes but for baking we have to let go of the inhibitions and take it up. By this time her cute little baking room smelt of warm brownies. Now it was time to move to Sangria, Swati takes out the freshest Kiwis, Mangoes and strawberries that pleased our eyes. I love playing with seasonal fruits be it for my desserts or drinks. I love cooking more elaborate meals and desserts when I am stressed and I never restrict myself while trying new elements, textures and flavours. Well few hobbies relax the mind and soothe the hungry soul in quite the way that baking and cooking does to her.
After salivating and giving pendulum glances at both oven and fridge, Swati presented her Nutella brownies and Sangria to us. One bite and we were transported to heaven. We sipped in our yummy sangria, and we knew its finally time to relax. Some afternoons with our Home Culinaires are just meant for that. Tucking our batch of brownies we bid our farewell until to the next one.