Of the Women, By the Women, and For the Women

An Interview with Blogger, Manjusha Praveen of “Pramanj’s Foodie Lounge“

Manjusha Smart indian Women

Manjusha Smart indian Women

Thanks for taking the time to chat with SIW. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your blog.     

Manjusha : Well,SIW team, pleasure is all mine ! As a matter of fact, my heartfelt thanks to you for giving me this honor to share a space with all the talented inspiring women featured in SIW especially.

Salaam Namastey gals! Myself, Manjusha Praveen, a pampered daughter, caring yet annoying sister, a friend in need, a shudh desi romantic wife and most importantly, a no-nonsense yet carefree, fun filled, thankful human being.

I was born in south India, Kerala, brought up in North India, Bokaro Steel city and post marriage residing in US of A.I am an IT professional who quit her full time job because of her health issues and now a part time freelancer, a blogger, a Vlogger (my you tube channel- My FoodMagicShow -subscribe and a happy homemaker .

I always loved to experiment and develop new recipes more than just cooking per se .Post marriage,    “necessity became the mother of all my edible inventions in my kitchen!” In the real world ,tired of scribbling recipe notes here, there, everywhere like a crazy-messy cooking scientist and stuck with amnesia at times  ,I realized it’s high time ,better to find a space in the virtual world to jot down my culinary saga in a more organized & colorful way. So, that’s how mywonderkitchen.blogspot to CDM-CookingDivaManjusha.com was born!

My blog is an edible memoir, a documentation & a celebration of my cooking adventures post marriage far away from my mother & motherland (India)- from trials to triumphs , how to wow, disasters to signatures, blunders to wonders in my cooking lab, “My wonder kitchen”  (My previous blog’s name on blogger/My launchpad).

My blog has a wonderful combination of recipes from my native place Kerala, other South Indian recipes, north Indian recipes and interesting recipes around the world .They are traditional yet modern , easy yet unique and mostly healthy .The recipes tried, tested and trusted by my near and dear ones are only featured in my blog.

Moreover, this virtual little space of mine is also my ultimate outlet to rejuvenate my three not-yet-expert passions  – Cooking, Writing & Photography (no wonder why my mom would always say, “Cooking is one of a kind art” .Here, I cook with love, write straight from my heart ,rekindle ,recreate and capture a memory forever. Welcome to CookingDivaManjusha.com !

Manissha Smart Indian Women 2 Manissha Smart Indian Women 1

What makes your blog so unique and why should people read it?          

Manjusha : I believe ,my blog’s USP is that it is not just another food blog exclusively ; “Athukkum mele” meaning “more than that” – it is “Food + Fun + Facts “!!

My blog’s main intention is to bring the best out of me, inspire others and make a difference by-

  1. My writing -I hope my stories or information shared will touch others, educate them somehow, make them smile/lol (even if it is @ my expense), ponder and have a positive impact on their life.
  2. My recipes – Every Expert (I’ve still a long way to go but I am better than I was before) was once a beginner. Cooking is fun especially when you put your own twist into a traditional recipe or recreate successfully your mom’s or grandma’s that finger licking recipe or turn an unhealthy recipe into a healthy one .When you cook hot and fresh food for your family and that brings a hearty smile on your family’s face . Cooking is so worth it .I call it my nirvana! I want to make it contagious in my way to others as well.

3.My photography – Photography is so magical if you dive deep into it ,but don’t force yourself until you’ve a strong reason to invest in a DSLR/Hi-Fi camera to take awesome pictures, even ordinary cameras can take extraordinary pictures ,all you need is a little creativity and pictures can also speak for itself in its most simplest way .

4.Blogging – is not a child’s play .Do it only because YOU really want to, in your best possible way and don’t be an addict especially at the expense of you, your well being and your family’s expense. Don’t compare or compete with anyone, be your own competition and motivation. Make your own path. Don’t forget to enjoy life beyond that.

So, my blog is as unique as me, a virtual version of unapologetic ME. Rest, why don’t you pay a visit to my blog and find it out for yourself. You know where to find me.

How often do you blog?              

Manjusha : I don’t maintain a specific time frame as such ; try my best to blog twice or thrice a week ,sometimes I disappear from my virtual world for not days, weeks but even months. You see there are other priorities in life too and I don’t want to be obsessed with it as it is just my personal blog.so whenever time and mood permits.

What has been your most successful blog post to date and what was it about?

Manjusha : For me success is when my writing or recipes made someone’s day .Whenever I get a comment on my recipes it is always, “though I’ve tried many other versions from other blog, your proportions are apt and I got loads of compliments from my husband” or someone would email me saying you are hilarious .that’s my successful post actually !

By max pageviews, it is my very simple recipe “Pavakka mezhukkupuratti aka bitter gourd stir fry Kerala style “, I’ve a video to show how to chop those bitter gourds properly.

By max shares (20+ & counting organic G+shares), I’ve “How to make paneer with broken milk -how to store milk longer and fresher and reuse milk safely after it’s sell by date” and similarly the other one is “Tri color popsicles made with natural colors and is quite healthy ” and other tricolor food recipes which are like one of a kind only available in my blog were well received.

In that way, I was expecting my soft yummy cake made on stove top just on a pizza pan, to be the most successful one as no one has made a cake like that before. But not yet. Hopefully one day that should be the one, that I am most proud of !

What do you find most challenging about blogging?     

Manjusha : Blogging is a herculean task ,if you’ve got a lot of interesting things to share but hardly any audience or the”” right audience”” per se to share it with and further.

My challenges:

  1. Before blogging, I thought I was a good photographer but food blogging proved me wrong and since then, I am constantly torturing my camera. Now I wonder if I am even creative anymore. Food photography is quite challenging indeed!!
  2. To take a picture that speaks 1000 words aptly by using the right food props to enhance my food recipe, I find it utter waste of money to buy some stuffs/props just for that sake. I do have a few in my pantry ,which at times makes me feel guilty ,I would have spend that money for a better use. I am controlling that urge now. Learning how to highlight my food with bare minimums.
  3. As much as I would love to, I barely find time to interact and keep in touch with my fellow bloggers. My networking skill, like that, sucks big time. But then I was & I am not much interested in hopping from one blog to another and commenting anymore.no time for that! And since blogging is more like give and take (comments especially), I hardly have any and my blog is also not that known to others therefore.
  4. I am also not good at promoting my stuff unless I’ve a very useful, one of a kind recipe or information that I think should be shared by hook or crook.so, my blog maintains a very low profile. I am trying to learn how to promote to the right audience and also master the SEO tips and tricks for my blog.
  5. So, my blog is self-made and self-motivated. I may not have a huge fan following yet or anyone to motivate me every now and then but I also got the right attention at the right time and I learned it in a hard way that in life, do not ever rely on others completely, but always, ALWAYS believe in yourself and keep going.it takes nothing to follow a crowd but it takes true strength to walk alone .it won’t be easy but it’ll be worth it one day .

What are some of your favorite author blogs and why?

Manjusha : Show me any blog from blogosphere, I don’t care if it’s a big shot one or a new one or a small one, for me they are like my fingers. All different but equally important and interesting in their own ways. I admire everyone’s work .I follow many but don’t want to pinpoint any. However my most favorite ones are those blogs that even though don’t have many fans/followers or loaded with comments, still keep on going, doing their best without really caring for anyone’s approval. They keep me inspired! And least favorites are those, where a blogger is crazily obsessed with their blog especially if it is a personal blog as if they don’t have any life outside it.

What are your favorite books that you would recommend SIW family?

Manjusha : I don’t own a cookbook( till date) to recommend ,as everything is available online nowadays.( I’ve one though ,which was gifted by my Japanese colleague at work during my farewell, but then that’s it which I’ve not even tried yet !)

I am not an avid reader per se but if I find something interesting to read, I can finish it within minutes to a few days .I like any book that touches my soul and inspires me to be a better person .So, I recommend these books for you –

  1. You can You will – Joel Osteen (#1 New York Times bestselling author) – Though I don’t believe in priests, godly men-woman as such but of course God. Here is one pastor whom I can’t stop listening to in YouTube or reading his books.so inspiring from his real life experiences not just from the Bible – no you don’t have to become a Christian, you will become a very good human being eventually !!

2.Contagious optimism – David Mezzapelle – Whenever I want a quick jot of inspiration ,to keep up my hope , keep going and to spread the positivity all around. This is my “go-to” book for that.

  1. You can if you think you can – Norman Vincent Peale -Another classic book of positivity booster!

Can we really make a living by Blogging? If yes, how we can do that?

Manjusha : Now that is something even I am exploring on lately. However, my life-guide, Google says, there are a lot of people who are INDEED but I am not one yet.

But then, though I don’t have any intention to make a living by blogging ,as it is ,by God’s grace ,well taken care of and I am content with what I’ve (Fingers crossed !) ,I’ve recently started to monetize my blog by using affiliate marketing like Google adsense, Amazon etc , didn’t earn much yet and since my blog is all about making a difference and doing it’s bit ,my main aim is to use any money earned through my blog for supporting a cause started by me, close to my heart called “Project care card” all about helping a homeless by giving them not money directly but a gift card so that they can buy anything for their basic needs like food ,cloths etc and they won’t use it for wrong use like drugs etc hopefully. So, any penny will be saved to support such causes and more.

So, I am afraid I am not the apt person to guide you at present for that matter but may be in future.Let’s see! Meanwhile please Google it, you’ll get some idea and if possible let me know that as well. “Where there is a will, there is always a way”!

What advice would you give to young women readers of SIW who want to follow a similar career path as you?               

Manjusha : Advise? If I start, you’ll call me grandma. Well, any word if that can soothe any soul that is my intention after all. Anyways, I’ll tell from my life experience and what I sincerely believe in.

Since you asked career path. I am an ex-IT professional who quit her full time job for good and I am on a long break I’ll say. I may or may not return to join the IT world again but yes, it is always best to be financially independent.

At present I am a happy homemaker and let me tell you I am so enjoying this role – I don’t have to work under someone, I don’t have any deadlines to meet, I’ve  24 hours (which I find very less) a day to do whatever I want to do – learn so many new things which I never had time before  and create new hobbies ,prepare fresh, healthy, homemade foods for my family.no housemaids and so keep my house clean as much as possible by myself which in fact keeps my mood fresh, when I am sick I don’t have to request leave. I do the needful and take rest .most important thing spend quality time with my family without any compromise .I even do freelance work which may not pay me a lot but enough as a pocket money which is also helpful .I take care of myself, keep my passion alive by blogging or creating DIY stuffs or videos etc,as and when time permits. What can I say, I love being at home and taking care of myself and my family. Their smile and health matters to me above anything else and yes, I make the best use of time to the fullest!

Since I know the best of both the worlds all I will say to whomever it may concern, whichever path you choose, even if it is blogging – Choose it because YOU really love to do,that would keep you really happy not because someone wants you to or someone else is doing or someone disapproves your worth but then don’t do it at the expense of your well being or your family’s .

If circumstances forces you to choose the way you don’t prefer otherwise, then I hope you will still find peace with it and turn any frustration into a motivation and inspire others along the way. You have got one life make the best out of it .All the best!

As my blog post always end, Eat, love, live. DELICIOUSLY!

Sorry that’s too long, if you read that all. Appreciate your patience, but then that’s me.

Thanks once again SIW team for this opportunity. Really appreciate it!

Smart Indian and all WOMEN Jai ho!!

Dil se,

Manjusha

Blog URL : Cookingdivamanjusha.com

Category : Foodie

All images are property of “Manjusha” and required permissions have been taken to publish it on www.smartindianwomen.com website.

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