For Delhi-based young blogger Nikita Aggarwal, blogging helps her deal with the stress of life. She is a person who loves travelling to new places and explore different cuisines. It’s mainly because of this love, Nikita got the inspiration to start a blog on food in early 2016. Her blog, A Girl with Fork, is now 1-year-old and it is all about her experiences with food at different places. Other than being a food blogger, Nikita is also an IT professional and works in a reputed IT firm as a SAP Developer and Consultant. However, in the future, she also has plans to take up food blogging as her full-time profession.
Nikita Aggarwal, the young girl with fork, joins us in this interview session with conflatingVisions to share her story. In this conversation, she not only tells us about her blog on food, but also reveals how an aspiring food blogger can start a food blog!
Hi Nikita, welcome to this interview session of conflatingVisions. To start with, please tell us a few lines about yourself.
Hi! I am Nikita Aggarwal, a Delhi born and brought up girl. I studied Telecom Engineering from SRM University, Chennai and graduated in 2014. Currently working in an IT firm as a SAP Developer and Consultant. As a child, I was not sure what I wanted to be. I always had the adrenaline rush of travelling to new places. At that time, there was no job that will pay you for travelling (In 2010, I wasn’t aware of the words blogging and bloggers). As a bright academic child, I was expected to take wiser decisions. So, I went on to pursue Engineering in Chennai.
When did you decide to start a food blog? What inspired you to take this decision?
A Girl with Fork was never pre-decided. I never had plans to start a blog. I was not even aware if I could even write a blog or take pictures. After completing Engineering and Job Training, I was back to Delhi after almost 5 years. I was doing a 9-5 job and preparing to write the MBA entrance examinations.
During my entire college or job training days, I was kind of an expert to whom everyone will come and asks for suggestions on which places to go and which all restaurants to choose for eating out. I tried food in almost every restaurant in Chennai and travelled extensively to many places of South India during my college days.
When I was in Ahmedabad for job training, I used to take trips on every weekend. I went to Jaisalmer, Mount Abu, Udaipur and Diu. I was the planner who would sketch out the entire trip for my group, book cabs, hotels, find all the restaurants and the must visit places. For my friends, I was like a Zomato and MakeMyTrip. Though, I never mind that.
My friends kept telling me that I should be doing something with travelling. One fine day, I got a call from a friend in Hyderabad. She started writing food reviews and was keen on starting a food blog. So, I was helping her to provide my inputs from Delhi. During that time, I met a lot of other bloggers and foodies. Soon, I became a part of this food society and community of bloggers. I felt this is where I belong. So just on a random day, I was waiting for my Maggi and I had a fork in my hand, I was just playing around and murmured I am a girl with fork, give me my Maggi!
Please tell us about your blog A Girl with Fork.
A Girl with Fork is a journey of a girl who has this long lasting relationship with fork. It is a food journal that I put across. I love travelling, so time to time I share my travel muse with people. I sometimes cook, so it’s a food laboratory where I share cooking recipes with people and share recipes of the chefs or home cooks. Soon enough, I will be sharing stories of great people whom I met in this amazing food journey. A girl with fork is a simple way of depicting – we eat, we travel, we click and we repeat!
Nikita, as you told that you also work for an IT company apart from running this blog. How do you split your time between your passion and profession?
A Girl with Fork is a stress buster for me. As you know an IT job is not a very happy job to do. After working 9 hours a day, I have something to look forward to or go back to. I also conduct food events for restaurants and consult them. At times I feel I am juggling between a lot of balls and I tend to drop a few of them. But at the end of the day, I efficiently manage family, friends, work, blogging and events.
I really love staying occupied and can’t just sit idle. I like the feeling that when I get back home I am completely tired and I can sleep just in a fraction of a second.
What according to you is the best cuisine that you have ever eaten?
Best Cuisine, that’s a tricky one. I enjoy Italian cuisines and love having Italian foods. But there is a kind of intensity I have for South Indian cuisines. Most people confine themselves to Dosa, Idly and Uttapam. But it has so much more to it. There are wide varieties of Andhra, Kerala and Karnataka food. There is Appam with Curry. Then there is Lemon Rice, Puliyogare Rice, Avaial and Pongal. Also, there is a very simple meal made of Podi (dry powder of lentils), Rice and Ghee. It’s wonderful!
Nikita, how often do you eat outside?
Ha Ha Ha. Fork Eats. I diet.
How do you prevent yourself from gaining excessive weight?
That’s the most common question I get. I try to control and monitor what I eat in a day. If I am eating lunch or dinner outside, I keep the other meal light. And, most importantly, I always have people to share food. I explore lots of street food, so whenever I get a dish, I separate a small portion of it for myself and rest of it I give it away to the needy people around me.
Quite a couple of food photographs on your blog are excellent. Did you photograph them or do you have your own food photographers?
I clicked all of them and have no photographer or intern right now. I do all content and photos by myself. When it comes to what I put on my blog, I tend to become very choosy. However, I watch tutorials and follow a few food photographers quite regularly to get the food pictures right.
Do you love cooking? What is your favourite cooking recipe?
I do love cooking, though, I am not a regular in my kitchen. But, whenever I get time I love cooking for my Dad. Be it Pasta or Spaghetti or Pizza. Lately, my favourite recipe is a Chocolate Cake I learnt with all nuts and berries.
Nikita, how do you go about building a decent traffic for your blog?
I believe good contents and writing on a regular basis will keep people engaged. You can’t just do 3 blogs a week and then just not write for another 3 weeks. It has to be regular and the content you deliver is important.
There are many persons who eats for a living. Do you have any plans to become a full-time food critic/reviewer in the near future?
I say to everyone that I am not a food critic or food reviewer and I never say a dish is good or bad. I just share my experience. It will be ruthless if I judge food cooked by chefs who underwent formal culinary trainings and maybe has more knowledge than me. Coming back to the question, yes, I would love to see my passion turn into my profession in the future.
If an aspiring blogger asks you “How to start a food blog?” then what would be your reply?
I have been getting a lot of such similar questions and my answer is simple. Blogging on food is not a rocket science. But there is a difference between hanging out at a new restaurant and food blogging. It seem like a good fancy thing to do. But it’s really not like that. You just don’t eat food, you read and write food too and click food.
So, make sure you really understand food and write what you feel. You may like some dish that other person won’t. Don’t let your opinion affect your writings.
Anything else you want to share…
I think I have shared a lot to things until now. In a year, A Girl with Fork has done a lot of things to me. The blog has been my strength. It helped me make friends all across the world. It’s amazing and exciting how food can connect you to so many people. The feeling is just wonderful. There are a lot of people in Mumbai who invited me to stay with them, take me around the city. I have second most followership/readership from Mumbai. There are a lot of people from abroad who keep telling me how much they miss India just by going through my posts.
A sweet thing happened a few days back. I helped a navy guy in choosing a restaurant for a date with his fiancé and a few days later I got a mail and wedding invitation. Above and beyond food has connected me with a lot of people, created relationships that’s just incredible!
And one last question of this session Nikita, if you have had one wish…
I really wish and hope to travel all around the globe and discover pretty beautiful cities, their cultures and their foods. I just don’t want to stay at a place as I wish to keep going and growing!