Interview with Rekha Kakkar

Today at your adda, we have someone who cooks yummilicious food and makes it look even more appealing through her lens. All you want to actually do after looking at those mouth-watering pictures is to lay your hands and devour the ever so amazing looking food! Always experimenting and trying out new dishes while maintaining the necessary balance between health and taste is something she loves doing. Introducing, Rekha Kakkar, winner of the Best Blog Award in the Food & Drinks Category at the BlogAdda Blog Awards 2014 as she tells us her story as a food blogger & food photographer.


Q: How did blogging happen to you? Tell us your blog story from the start.

A: Blogging in the sense of real blogging was not something that I had in my mind when I started blogging. Initially I started blogging to share my healthy recipes and the meals that I was eating at home with friends and family, gradually when I saw page views increasing I knew people liked the blog and my food photography. That was an incentive enough to keep blogging week after week.

Q: When and how did you build up interest for cooking? Share with us your first cooking experience.

A: I do not remember exactly when I first cooked any food ; it may be a cup of tea or toasts and such before I got married , because cooking was not my cup of tea {probably my mom is one of the best cook and she made sure we were fed well in terms of tasty and healthy food}.

My real cooking started just after I got married. When I joined my husband in his first unit I was thrilled for a whole new lifestyle in Air Force. I was totally excited to set up our first home, while setting up our kitchen he told me that he loves sarson ka saag with Makki ki roti . It was winter season, bent upon to impress him I called my mother and asked her how to cook sarson ka saag.

Next day when he left for office I really wanted to surprise him, so when he came back from office for I served it to him with full josh. This Guy ate it all, lastly when he finished eating his food he asked me to try it, just to please him I took a spoonful and put it in my mouth and …. Ishhhhhh crap!! It was all sand. Yes one most important step I forgot was to wash it properly. It was the day that I decided that I must learn to cook.

We have this wonderful culture in defence forces where senior ladies freely share their knowledge, and I learned a lot from them in my initial days.

Q: You have tried your hand and excelled in cooking a large number of cuisines. Every cuisine has its own set of specialities. Which one is your personal favourite and tell us why?

A: This is most difficult to answer, as a foodie you tend to cook and eat various cuisines; I can say I have my favourites in most of cuisines. But if I have to choose beside Indian, I love Mediterranean flavours. I particularly like Italian and Mexican food along with some classic Middle Eastern vegetarian classics.

I love most of Italian dishes, one can never have enough of fresh pasta, pizza everything salads, risottos, breads and the fact that it includes lots of fresh veggies and a great amount of tomatoes with some of my favourite fresh herbs and spices.

Q: Tell us a little about your schooling days.

A: I was born and brought up in a small town known as Hisar in Haryana. This is where I studied. In the schooling days in late 70s and mid 80’s, life and studies were much simpler and we were not burdened with loads of activities along with hundred subjects to study like children of today.

Q: Recently, you were featured on the TV channel FoodFood with Chef Vikas Khanna. This indeed is very interesting. Tell us more about your whole experience.

A: It was an exciting experience; this was part of an initiative with a brand I am working with. Having met him before, I always appreciated the way he makes everything sound so simple but if you observe closely he is all wizards when it comes to combining various flavours. One thing I admire most about him is the amazing energy he brings on the set. Whenever I have met him, my respect for him goes up a notch because he is one of most humble people whom I have met. Despite being so famous, he has kept himself grounded and I can go on and on, most of all I like his simplicity and the way he appreciates everyone even for their small achievements.

Q: There is a common belief that health and taste just cannot go hand in hand. You have to compromise on either one of the two. Do you agree with this? What is your take on the same?

A: No, I have never believed in compromising and why would one have to compromise on one thing out of health and taste. According to popular notion, health food is just bland and boiled food devoid of any flavours, but on the contrary healthy food is tasty food.

Who said you have to eat salad without any flavour, add some fresh herbs and some spices to along with a glug of some healthy oil like extra virgin olive oil, cold press flax seed oil and fresh lemon juice or may be some yogurt with tahini sauce, there are hundred other combinations.

I can guarantee that after experimenting with flavours you are bound to discover a new world of healthy to your everyday food.

And why just restrict ourselves to salads, any dish cooked with Wholesome and fresh ingredients and some understanding of spice + herb combination and right cooking method can be made healthy.

Personally I follow 80/20 rule when it comes to eating. 80% of our food is real whole food and 20% we allow ourselves to eat food that is not considered healthy conventionally like sugar in chocolate {we are a family of chocoholics} or may be some deep fried stuff once in a while.

Q: The children nowadays are too choosy when it comes to their lunch boxes. Food that looks appealing, colourful and tasty is naturally the first to get gobbled up. Share with us 3 quick-to-make healthy recipes that our readers can fill their toddlers’ lunch boxes with.

A: Yes, lunch box is a struggle that many moms have talked about. Children are choosy, so if we start introducing variety of food in early years of life, they are less choosy and enjoy better health with variety of food.

Still, presenting healthy things in attractive ways helps a lot if you are packing lunch for a toddler.

A toddler can handle finger food much better than food that he has to eat using spoon or a fork. Sandwiches with variety of fillings like peanut butter and banana, cream cheese with grated veggies like cucumber and cabbage, or boiled eggs with hung yogurt or paneer with grated vegetables are some excellent options to pack for toddler’s lunch box.

If your child loves wraps with the wholewheat chapati with above mentioned fillings.

Idlies sandwiched with variety of fillings like cheese and chutney or may be some tahini yogurt and grated veggie spread is a great option too.

Pair the above options with fresh fruits and veggies cut up in interesting shapes and your lunchbox struggle will be sorted.

Q: Health always comes with a price is a notion that most people have. Is healthy food actually costlier than its counterparts? What do you have to say about it?

A: This is a big myth; healthy food may not necessarily be expensive. Healthy food is all about making choices, combining various complementary foods together to extract maximum nutrition out of them. Most importantly try to include variety in terms of ingredients and cooking methods.

You really do not need to buy exotic fruits and grains to eat healthy. Just locally available seasonal fruits and vegetables along with widely available whole grains or whole grain flours like corn, bajra, oats, ragi etc. are a good way to eat healthy without adding extra burden on wallet.

Q: You love food and photography! If you had to choose one, what would your first love be? To cook or to click?

A: Both the things are close to my heart, so I would love to click food cooked by me.

Q: Is your husband a foodie too? Does he enjoy the cooking or prefers sampling the recipes you create and try out? Tell us the one dish that you cook which he believes you make the best and absolutely devours.

A: He loves good food, He is my guinea pig so he has to try out all what I cook {oh wait … Do husbands have choice}. On a serious note, he enjoys what I cook; he is the most fuss free eater I have ever seen. It is my son who is the foodie in the family and my worst critic.

My husband absolutely loves baigan ka bharta and the pasta cooked by me.

Q: How important is it for the blogger to interact with their readers? Do you respond to all the comments that you receive?

A: I think it is important to interact with your readers, though mostly blogs are written for your own satisfaction, but your readers who take out time to connect with you , read it and give you their feedback deserve your reply. In the process you yourself learn so much. So interaction is necessary.

These days not just blog, social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram or micro blogging platforms like Twitter are also extensions of a blog, so interaction is an important factor in the life of any blogger.

Q: How has blogging helped you in your entire journey from where you started to where you are today?

A: Blogging has helped me a lot; it helped me connect with like minded people, I have made some very good friends because of blogging.

Professionally it has helped me to showcase the work I do, and many good opportunities came my way because of my blogs.

Q: You won the Best Blog Award for the Food & Drinks Category by BlogAdda at WIN. How did you and your loved ones react to this?

A: Awards and accolades always encourage you and make you happy, and last year has been particularly good in terms of appreciation I got in terms of awards and otherwise.

When one friend from Mumbai who happened to be attending WIN called to tell me about it, we all were so happy to hear the news and they are very proud of me.

Q: What would be 3 important pieces of advice you would give to someone who wants to start a food & photography blog?

  •  Blog because you want to, not because food blogging is popular and that is why you too want to join the bandwagon.
  • Never compromise on quality of content.
  • Do not start a blog because it may fetch you some good money, or make you popular overnight do it because you love it and interaction with people excites you.

Q: What is the future of food blogging in India according to you?

A: The way everyday new blogs are started and even popular personalities have started their own blogs to express their opinions and make their reach among masses tells me that blogging is here to stay. But with such a huge number of blogs out there, only those who will maintain the quality and share their experience honestly will withstand the test of time.

Connect with Rekha Kakkar: Blog, BlogAdda, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram.

Thank You Rekha for a brilliant interview!

For all those who missed #WIN14, you can relive it through the photos!

Bloggers, we hope you enjoyed reading this Interview with Rekha where she tells us everything about her journey from learning cooking to becoming a food blogger, stylist and photographer.

We look forward to your feedback about this interview.

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