Staying true to Marathi flavours

YouTuber Madhura Bachal talks about focussing on Maharashtrian food and ingredients for her four million subscribers

Pune-based Madhura Bachal started her digital journey when YouTube was launched in India. Madhura who is a banker, says, “In 2009, I was only beginning to look at what YouTube offers us.”

At the time, her digital knowledge was limited to browsing, recording and camera basics. She did not foresee retiring from her bank job when she created her cookery channel and posted her first video. Now, Madhura who has over four million YouTube subscribers and six million followers on social media platforms, feels it is her responsibility to keep the recipes rolling.

Madhura claims she is the first Maharashtrian woman to start her own Maharashtrian cuisine channel on YouTube; that was in 2009.

“My main objective in starting this channel was to post traditional Maharashtrian recipes and spread it across the world,” she says. “When YouTube was launched in India, there was no dearth of recipes for all kinds of cuisine, but I couldn’t find anything on authentic Maharashtrian cuisine which is so diversified. I wanted to leverage the platform to popularise authentic recipes from all regions of Maharashtra. The focus was on keeping it less complicated and with simple ingredients.”

The first recipe she posted on her channel was for misal pav. Traditionally, the elaborate recipe involves roasting of spices and several other steps. “I decided to simplify it with easy solutions to make it less laborious. That recipe is still popular, and to date receives comments. I want Maharashtrian food to be understood correctly. It is a misconception that Marathi food uses a lot of groundnuts. A popular saying about Marathi food goes: ‘Whatever is easily found in the region and can be ground, is made into food,’ says Madhura.

She adds, “I try to dig into recipes that are forgotten, and simplify them for contemporary use. Most of the time we turn to our grandmothers for old favourite recipes; I went deeper and did lots of research, including visiting various places in Maharashtra, to understand the use of spices, ingredients and procedures.”

To date, she has posted more than 3,000 recipes on her channel and website; in 2018, she also published her first recipe book Madhura’s Recipes in Marathi, that is on the bestseller list on Amazon.

Diverse enterprises

“I also launched Madhura’s Recipe Masala, a range of authentic Maharashtrian spices like Goda Masala, Kanda Lasun and Byagdi chilli. The spices are in demand because they can be used easily with vegetarian and non-vegetarian food,” she says.

Being a vegetarian does not stop Madhura from cooking dishes with fish and chicken. “I test all my non-vegetarian dishes on my husband’s family. They don’t complain and I am happy to get honest feedback,” she laughs.

She recently came up with a new concept: Angat Pangat, a food festival focussed on Maharastrian food. This festival invites homemakers to cook traditional Maharastrian food at a venue.

Any advice for beginners? “Start with easy dishes. Look for many recipes of the same dish and try the simplest one. That will help you get a hang of what went right and what could have been better,” she says.

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