On a rainy day, we often think about having 'khichuri,' but not everyone is a connoisseur of cooking and those of us living alone don't have any master chefs around. But we do not sacrifice our cravings either, do we?
Instead, we go on YouTube, search for the best recipes out there. As we do, on top of the list, we find a channel with a rather familiar name, 'Banglar Rannaghor.'
Banglar Rannaghor makes short-form cooking videos primarily featuring South Asian cuisine. Not only do they help you with simple and fulfilling recipes, but the soothing flow of their content is a treat to your eyes as well. Their videos do not feature any talking heads, nor do they use any voice overs. All you get to see is a pair of hands neatly working on the ingredients.
Over the past five years, Banglar Rannaghor has garnered a huge following among netizens, ranging from avid foodies surfing the internet to moms looking for some recipes. As of now, the channel has amassed 1.38 million subscribers on YouTube, 522,000 followers on Instagram and more than 3.7 million likes on Facebook.
Such a massive following has also meant that people got very curious to know about the people behind these high-quality videos. Some speculated they were Bangladeshis based in Australia, while many thought the content was created by Bangalis hailing from Paschim Banga. Until now, however, most people had little idea about the people behind these extremely popular videos.
So how did it all start? And whose 'hands' are in those mouthwatering cooking videos? To find out the answer to these questions (and more), we sat down with one of the creators of the channel.
Banglar Rannghor is the brainchild of Fardeen Sharif and his wife Mariah Zahir, who launched the channel in 2016.
"One fine day, my wife and I were surfing the internet and the content of a popular cooking channel 'Tasty' came across our feed. 'Tasty' also makes short format cooking videos. We suddenly thought we had access to good gear as I used to make travel content. So we should give it a try with Bangladeshi food," said Fardeen.
Fardeen, along with his family, is originally from Dhaka. But they moved to Canada 16 years ago. There, Fardeen worked in corporate sales and as a side hustle, he worked as a DJ as well for years.
Now, he is working relentlessly to make Banglar Rannaghor an influential source in the digital world of cooking. And there are four other team members as well.
"In Banglar Rannaghor, our objective is to reach people's hearts without making things complicated. We want to create recipes with the best ingredients but they must be accessible as well," said Fardeen.
Among the five members of the team, Fardeen's mother Maleka Noor plays the most vital role. She is the main cook of the channel and also its driving force.
"From the very beginning, we were extremely privileged, compared to our peers, as we could still taste authentic Bangla dishes thanks to my Amma," added Fardeen.
"My mother is not only a good cook but she is extremely passionate about cooking. And because of her, we as a family enjoy the whole process of making the content for Banglar Rannaghor," he added.
Fardeen's maternal grandmother's house is in Pirojpur and his grandfather owned a bakery. And consequently, his mother indulged in experimenting with cooking.
But launching a channel usually involves a lot of risks as creators often do not get the response they expect. Luckily, Banglar Rannaghor started to gain popularity from the very first video they uploaded in 2016, which was about making 'Gajorer Halua.'
When they realised that there was a demand for this type of quick video recipe, they started producing content regularly.
The channel generated more buzz when in 2017, 'T-Fal', a world-renowned kitchen and home appliances company collaborated with them. To grab the attention of the South Asian market, the company was looking for cooking channels with a considerably large fanbase.
The news made it to the local newspapers as well.
Banglar Rannaghor easily stands out among other food influencers through their sleek editing, subtle background music and uncomplicated recipes.
When asked about the speciality of their channel, Fardeen said, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So different audiences may find different things appealing in our videos. But we do this with all our heart."
When we follow a recipe randomly taken from a video on the internet, in most cases, our food does not exactly mirror the sample shown in the video. Banglar Rannaghor is aware of this and did not want to disappoint its audience, hence, a lot of focus is given to finding the accurate measurement.
According to Fardeen, "We go through a rigorous process to find out the exact measurement, to ensure that our viewers get to experience the exact cuisine we showed. And a major portion of our investment for the project goes into tasting [experimenting with ingredients] food."
A dish with 'Ricotta' cheese will taste different from one made with local 'ponir.' So the Banglar Rannaghor team follows various recipes with various ingredients and then chooses the one that tastes near perfect and is also easy to cook to feature on their channel.
It is worth noting that Banglar Rannaghor does not only focus on South Asian dishes but they try to represent dishes popular in every region around the world with the simplest recipe possible.
"I consider myself lucky to be living in Toronto, as special ingredients from different continents are widely available in this multicultural city. Still, I try to find alternatives to make things easier for people," said Fardeen.
"For example, sumac is a necessary element to make shawarma. But as an alternative, lemon zest can be used as well. Cooking a great meal can be exotic and accessible at the same time. You just need to research well and be creative," he added.
Fardeen remembered the initial days when people would laugh at him for investing in a project like this. Fast forward six years, now Banglar Rannaghor is one of the leading South Asian cooking channels, specifically representing Bangladeshi cuisine to the world.
"We are overwhelmed with the support and well wishes we get from our followers. To please our viewers is our priority and with the grace of the Almighty, we are successful. We do not ask our viewers to follow or subscribe to our channel, we just want to help them and eventually, that rewards us with a loyal followers base," said Fardeen.
Sponsors are always welcomed by the team, but what Banglar Rannaghor aims for is to win hearts by acting as a cooking assistant and, at the same time, being a quality source of micro entertainment.
"If we focused more on creating sponsored content it would be difficult to give attention to our unique quality content. That will eventually divert us from our core objectives," added Fardeen.
Because of platforms like Banglar Rannaghor, people from all age groups get inspired to cook for pleasure.
In recognition of their contribution, Banglar Rannaghor was handed the best influencer award at the Marvel of Tomorrow Influencers Summit and Award 2021.