Three Indian virtual food communities launched during the pandemic

Simple Recipes for Complex Times

founded by peter griffin

Where: Facebook

When: March 2020

As restrictions were being imposed early in the pandemic in 2020, author and journalist Peter Griffin says many people like him “who never had to cook were suddenly having to fend for themselves”. When he found himself asking friends on social media for advice about some simple recipes, Peter received a stream of friendly advice and suggestions, and not just people he knew.

Peter wondered how many more people could do with this kind of help. He started a Facebook group that grew to a few thousand followers in a week. “Requests, tips, recipes, hacks… they kept coming and they were given prompt and practical advice. I asked some friends, Nikita Barton and Ayesha Thomas, to help moderate the group, and it’s been – mostly – smoothly since then,” says Peter. He talks about how even the most experienced cooks were finding the ingredients scarce, and the stress of cooking for the entire household without interruption or respite.

He explains how people tell stories about food, their memories, struggles and triumphs. “For me, and for many others as well, learning was not just about cooking X or hacking Y set of ingredients; It was about understanding how food affects every aspect of our lives. There was insight into gender equations, caste restrictions, community, religion, history, geography, and more,” says Peter of the community, which still sees people getting involved. “Everyone eats, but who eats , what he can or cannot eat, how the same things are prepared in different cultures, etcetera are all interesting. Whether you approach food in a very functional way or are deeply invested in some aspect of it, there’s a lot to learn,” he says.

As for what he’s enjoyed most about the virtual group, Peter says it’s the acceptance. “No one brags about their skills and novices are met with grace and generosity.” And many lessons too, he says. “I learned to make dosas and adai; that the white part of watermelon makes a good vegetable; how to cook different types of meat… so much,” he says, adding that he also “lurks” at a few other recipe groups and “Thomas Zacharias the Locavore, The Saving Grain Movement by Elizabeth York and Anusha Murthy follows the insight of Kurush Dalal. In the history and culture of food, the research that Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal shares, Vikram Doctor’s posts, Krish Ashoka’s science-based information, etc.

book cover

book cover | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement


Co-Founded by Deval Deliwala

Where: Online

When: 2020

This learning platform for seniors was started with an aim to connect older adults and introduce them to new experiences of life. “We offer our members exciting cooking classes and demos that cover a range of topics from healthy cooking and meal planning to nutrition,” says Deval. GetSetUp Kitchen: A Global Culinary JourneyA cookbook that brings together recipes from its community members around the world.

He says the idea for the book took shape during the years of lockdown when he conducted virtual cooking classes and kitchen tours. “We have seen firsthand how food has the power to connect people around the world. A recipe is about culture, history and the story of a family on a plate,” he says.

Archana R.  K Makhana Pea Balls

Archana RK Makhana Matar Balls | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

This, he says, got the team thinking about how they could capture these traditions and recipes. “We want to showcase the amazing diversity of food and culture that exists in our community and preserve these traditions for future generations to cherish,” he says.

In the book, traditional Indian recipes are adapted in a contemporary way to include healthier options. For example, bajra khichdi, green peas cheela and curd with gram flour cauliflower. “We have also shared stories of our members – some started cooking out of necessity and others saw their grandmothers and fathers making different masalas in the kitchen,” says Deval.

Details at

eat Pray Love

Founded by Yogita Uchil

Where: WhatsApp

When: 2019

Here’s a group that brings together chefs (Kappa Chakka Kandhari’s Reggie Mathew, Goa’s Avinash Martins, among others) hotel and restaurant owners, home cooks, food historians and food enthusiasts. “I started the group with the intention of bringing the food community together,” says founder Yogita Uchil, a Chennai-based HR professional who prefers to call herself a “food evangelist,” about the network of over 300 members. I have interviews that discuss everything from getting the best seafood and dining recommendations to restaurant offers and workshops.

An offline meeting with some of the members of Eat Pray Love

An offline meeting with some of the members of Eat Pray Love. Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Given the popularity of the group, does she plan to create similar communities offline? After meeting some members at a recent Sunday brunch, Yogita says, while another group is unlikely, she is looking forward to working with members of the group for their offline meetings and workshops starting in 2022. This was followed by dinner prepared by Chef Shri Bala. Most of our members have three big gatherings coming together where we promote each other’s businesses,” says Yogita, who is also working towards curating experiential dining experiences that highlight regional cuisine .

To join the group, contact on Instagram @yogitauchil

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