Hey Friends, in our Blogger’s Interview series we are here with an awesome she blogger – Nagalakshmi Viswanathan. Being a fulltime professional she is always in a quest of quick homemade dishes and loves to try out and come up with some. Her blog Edible Garden is a must visit for anyone who wants to cook on the go and are new to cooking.
Nagalakshmi or Nags is one of the top Indian food bloggers who has a fulltime job, a couple of part-time jobs and a list of to-dos! She loves to learn new skills and experiment with food. Nagalakshmi started blogging with an intent to prepare meals under 30 minutes. And her recipes are made interesting with her instinct sense of humour.
In this interview with WPB360, she has discussed about how to develop a healthy food habit for someone with a busy schedule, her ways to manage a top-notch blog along with a stable career and the needed elements for creating stunning food photographs. We are very much thankful to Nags for taking time to answer all the questions. So without much ado, let’s jump into the discussion now.
Manidipa: Hi Nags, welcome to WPB360. Could you please share a bit about yourself and how you came to the field of food blogging?
Nags: I am a small town girl from Kottayam, Kerala, where my family has lived for a few generations now. We are originally Telugu Reddiars and my ancestors migrated to Kerala via the South of Tamil Nadu so our food is a very interesting mix of Andhra + Tamil + Kerala.
I started Edible Garden when I was living in Hyderabad and working at Google. I was barely cooking then and used food blogs to teach myself some basics. Soon I was cooking a lot more and wanted to start my own blog. The rest is history.
Manidipa: What were your initial goals when you started Edible Garden?
Nags: I was a bachelorette sharing an apartment with another girl in Hyderabad at that time. The idea was to share very simple recipes and meals under 30 minutes for people similar to me – new to cooking with not many appliances or ingredients to cook an elaborate meal. My recipes have a tutorial feel to them and I try to make it interesting with my weird sense of humour 🙂
Manidipa: Did you face any beginner’s challenges of blogging? How did you fix them?
Nags: I started blogging on Blogger which is easy to set up even for people who don’t know much about coding or technology. Once you get comfortable with that and want to customise your blog, the challenges begin. I taught myself basic HTML and followed countless online tutorials to get my blog into a decent shape. It was an obsessive time where I tried out various templates and menus on the blog. It was a tiring but fun phase.
Manidipa: Nags, you share some drool worthy photos of your recipes. What are the elements that go into them?
Nags: Thank you! I took a very keen interest in food photography from the early days and it was a key driver to keep blogging. At some point during the blogging journey, I started focusing more on the learning and teaching so the photographs just became means to an end. I still love taking them but these days it’s just about showing the final dish in a clear and non-fussy manner. I use minimal props and backdrops.
Manidipa: Which part of blogging do you enjoy the most – the recipe development, preparing the post or the camera-work?
Nags: That’s an interesting question. The easiest thing for me is to choose a recipe to try. I have a ton of pictures and recipes yet to be shared. Preparing the post and typing it out takes the longest and I usually do it in bits and pieces whenever I get the time. I still enjoy the photography but spend much less time on making the picture special.
Nags: More often than not, it’s spur of the moment and often driven by what I crave. If I feel like I want to eat a good chocolate cake, I go about finding a good base recipe, tweak it, and just bake it. The same for cooking recipes too. The recipes I share are what my husband and I eat on a regular or semi-regular basis.
Manidipa: It is truly commendable Nags, how efficiently you are managing your blog along with a full-time career. What are your ways to handle everything so well?
Nags: I often get this question and the answer has always been the same. I personally don’t believe in saying “I don’t have time”. It’s all about passion and priorities. If you genuinely want to do something, you will find the time. Everything else is just excuses. That said, it’s very difficult to sit and do an entire recipe in one go for me. So I get around that by typing up some text as and when I can.
Manidipa: Among all the types of cooking, which one is your personal favorite?
Nags: I love making traditional South Indian food and baking desserts.
Manidipa: What is your suggestion for someone with busy schedule, who wants to implement a healthy food habit?
Nags: Plan and prepare. Also, don’t be too fussy about things. For example, I would much rather make a big portion of dal and freeze some for later rather than eat a take-out meal that’s freshly prepared because I still believe homemade food is healthier. It doesn’t mean we don’t eat out, we certainly do, but planning and preparing homemade meals can really make a difference.
Manidipa: Would you like to share about the most appreciated dish, you prepared for your family?
Manidipa: What is your best blogging moment so far?
Nags: I started monetising the blog a few months after starting to blog and I saved up the money that came from it for a couple of years and took my husband on a trip to Egypt, one of this dream destinations. That will always remain a special memory.
Manidipa: Would you like to talk about your future blogging plans?
Nags: I honestly don’t have any major groundbreaking plans. I’d love to do videos but it’s just not a priority for me right now and would also involve teaching myself new skills and technology tools. If I am able to continue what I am doing on a regular basis, that itself is success to me.
Manidipa: Nags, What do you love to do when you get some time for yourself? (I know you are fully packed though 🙂 )
Nags: I am a homebody and love lounging on our couch and watching TV. My husband and I also love desserts and we love exploring new cafes in Singapore. We also travel a fair bit, averaging 3 trips a year. Planning for all this takes time!
Manidipa: Would you like to share some tips for the people who are planning to start a food blog in near future?
Nags: Before starting a food blog, or any blog for that matter, ask yourself why you are doing it. There’s no right or wrong answer but it’s important to have some goal. These goals may change and evolve as you go and that’s fine. Take small steps and the most important thing is consistency. Keep at it and surely you’ll figure out how to get where you want to go.
Thanks again Nags for sharing your insights with the readers of WPB360. In case you want to know any other tips on blogging, please feel free to ask in the comments below.