In 2018, when Tasiya Tariq wanted to prepare the Pulaw after her marriage, she decided to trawl the internet for recipes. Though she found a good number of recipes, she was disappointed that none of them were from Kashmir.
“There were lot of videos on the recipe of Kashmiri pulaw but none of them taught the ethnic and authentic dish. I was disheartened to see the preparation of Kashmiri dishes including pulaw being taught by people, who didn’t have any knowhow of our food,” she said.
She asked her husband if he could ask their family chef about the original recipe of pulav and that’s how she made the wazwan pulao at home for the first time.
“It turned out to be super yum. After this, I looked up for most Kashmiri recipes on YouTube and yet again saw all non-Kashmiri chefs making something else in the name of our cuisine. That’s when it struck me that I should start a YouTube channel where I would teach young girls and boys, men and women the real wazwan,” said Tasiya.
Tasiya, who has a masters in English, started the channel ‘Kashmir Food Fusion’ with the help of her husband. They reached out to Kashmiri professional cooks, the wazas, to learn and prepare wazwan for her online subscribers. Hers was one of the first such initiatives.
Hailing from Srinagar’s Batamaloo area, she set out on a mission to preserve Kashmir’s indigenous food culture by making the local recipes to reach out to wider audience.
Within two years she crossed one lakh subscribers and even received a silver button from YouTube. She became the first female YouTuber in the valley. Today, she has nearly 2.5 lakh subscribers.
“Initially, it was just a passion, a love for our culture but now we are professional. I am able to earn through the channel as brands approach us for promoting their product,” she said.
Tasiya said she knew basics of cooking but she learnt a lot from her mother-in-law and sister-in-law. She started the YouTube channel with the support and help of her husband.
“I knew many recipes myself as my mother taught me but I learnt these exotic recipes from my in laws. As I was very young when I got married, I wasn’t much into cooking traditional old recipes so my cooking skills improved a lot after marriage,” she said.
Tasiya started the YouTube channel with an aim to aware people how to make actual recipes and to promote and preserve the local food culture.Since then, the Kashmir Food Fusion has evolved as the favourite destination for food buffs when it comes to Kashmiri Wazwan. The channel is particularly emerging as a hot favourite among the newlywed brides, novices in cooking.
She makes videos of different local food recipes like methi maaz, gushtaba and all varieties of wazwaan. She also makes daily recipes like beams, chicken yakhni, muttion yakhni, roganjosh, fish roganjosh, nadruu (Lotus stem), chatni, tabak maaz, chicken biryani, eggplant, local snacks and other recipes and shows it to world audiences.
Currently pursuing B.Ed. from University of Kashmir, she said now on the request of people she makes the videos of recipes on their choice at her family kitchen in order to guide them.
“Our initiative was shared by people through word of mouth. When we started YouTube in 2018 we would hardly get some 600 views on our videos,” she said.
Tasiya said initially, it was very difficult to get an audience but then young Kashmiris studying or working outside the Valley started reaching out to her.
“Even the young generation of Kashmiri Pandits who miss many of their trademark dishes started following us,” she said.
Over the past four years Tasiya has been working hard. Today, apart from locals, people from India and abroad call and send her messages to make more recipes.
“I feel very happy when people of different regions and cultures call me and ask me for more videos. I even get calls from Kashmiri who live abroad in the US and UK,” she said.
“Thanks to the internet that gave me a platform to promote our local food and recipes to the viewers across the world and the response of people is very encouraging,” Tasiya said.
The young food vlogger said even people keep asking her about the availability of the recipes she makes in her home kitchen.
“Even some traditional and locals food recipes are not available in restaurants. I also get messages from tourists and they ask us for recommendations where to have food,” she said.
“I keep receiving the gratitude messages from the newly-wed brides and their stories of how my channel assisted them in creating their ‘first impression’ before the very eyes of their in-laws,” the 30-year-old Tasiya said.
She said food is related to humans deeply and connects with each other, inspiring her, even more, to serve indigenous Kashmir cuisine virtually.
Tasiya said she was amazed when an elderly man, who had visited Kashmir in 1947 texted her to show his gratitude. “I have had Rista (meatballs cooked in spicy gravy) on my visit to Kashmir in 1947 and now I am having it again through your channel. It made me happy,” the man wrote to her.
She said food is a very important part of our lives and it connects people.“I want all the Kashmiri food lovers to know that cooking all kinds of food is no rocket science. If one wishes, we can make all kinds of dishes at home in a cleaner environment. It’s never too late to learn how to cook. I have followers who are men aged 60 and above and they message me that they love watching my recipes and making them,” she said.
“So, I want to tell everyone that let’s preserve our culture, our cuisine. Let’s learn how to make it and pass it on to our future generations,” she said adding “Having a pizza is good but nothing can beat our own Wazwan or Muji Gaad or Kashmiri pickle or Harisa.”
Apart from food recipes, she also made videos of refreshing drinks including Badam drink. Three weeks ago she uploaded a video of lemon mojito which was shared widely and has got eight thousand views.
While talking about her future plans, Tasiya said she plans to open a restaurant in Srinagar and want to write a recipe book and make an app where she shares the recipes.
“I intend to start my own restaurant where I not only sell Kashmiri dishes but other Kashmiri stuff as well. I get a lot of requests from my subscribers that they want to purchase recipes from us. So hopefully in the future, I plan to start something of my own,’ she said.
On the other side, Tasiya has started a winter special series on her channel teaching the winter culinary of Kashmir predominantly Kashmiri Harissa, Pharri (smoked fish) and various dried vegetables even as more specialties are in the offing.