Aloo Bodi Tama
Aloo Bodi Tama is a Nepali curry with bamboo-shoot, potatoes, and black-eyed peas. Naturally vegan, gluten-free, aloo bodi tama makes a great side with plain rice (cauliflower fried rice or any other grains such as quinoa, couscous, freekeh) or can be enjoyed by itself as a hearty stew. How many of you look back at your old pictures and wonder what the heck were you thinking? I love to compare my early blog photos to what I have grown into today. I am nowhere near where I'd like to be but still it's a pretty awesome feeling to see the gradual progress. One of those recipes is Aloo Bodi Tama I shared back in 2013. I had a point and shoot camera, absolutely no clue about the importance of natural light but had a burning desire to share recipes I enjoyed cooking. Fast forward 2015, I have a Cannon T3i (don't buy the additional lens that comes with it if you want to do mainly food photography) and Cannon EF 50 mm f/1.8 II lens, which I use exclusively for photos under natural light. I was at a nutrition conference this weekend (more details to follow) and a few of my friends commented on how beautiful my photos looked and asked how do I do it?. So friends, I thought I would put together a short post about my food photography experience/tips.You don't need a fancy camera: If you are just starting out and want to get a feel in this field first or don't have a budget yet, your smart phone will work just fine. Nice camera and lens do make a difference but my friend Emily from Zen & Spice used her Samsung S6 to take food photos until recently and they were just gorgeous!!! Here is another great post by Lindsay from Cotter Crunch about Food Photography & Smart Phone.
Practice, practice, and practice: There are a ton of books and resources out there to learn about food photography but for me those didn't really work. I learned by taking 100's of photos regularly and playing with different settings. I follow a few food photographers I respect and adore so I am constantly inspired by their style and I try to incorporate bits and pieces from everyone. Some of my favorite food photography blogs include - A Brown Table, my name is yeh, Kiran Tarun, Honestly Yum and Oh, Lady Cakes.Natural light is your friend: I have tried taking photos indoor with the help of DIY lightbox and whatnot but none of that worked for me. Depending upon the amount of lighting and the orientation of your apartment/house, find an area that has natural light shining through and the best time. Experiment different corner, different times and find what works best for you. I love gloomy weather right before the rainfall, early morning until 10 - 11 am, and sometimes evening works too. For me, being located where I am, North light works the best. Ashley from Edible Perspectives have a whole page dedicated to photography (make sure to check it).Props: Props such as backdrops, table cloths, utensils are things used to enhance your food and set the mood for the overall recipe. Everyone has their own style and preference for props, so I think it's something you will naturally develop overtime. I am personally more attracted towards minimal, natural, and clean looking photos. When it comes to props, I mostly use white plates/bowls from Ikea and change the backdrop/table cloths depending upon the mood. I have found some cool pieces at the thrift store too, so make a trip there. I love these ten household items to improve food photography by Lindsay from Pinch of Yum.
Editing: I have found that taking photos in natural light does not need much editing. I have never really looked into editing my photos with software such photoshop, light room etc. I use Picasa (free) to mostly adjust lighting, exposure, and crop. If I need to add text or create a collage, I go with PicMonkey, which is also free and does other photo editing as well. Personally, I am not a big fan of adding text on my picture but I hear that it helps with traffic on pinterest. I hope this post was somewhat informational and inspirational to get you started on taking pictures of your delicious food! Just click it and start sharing. If you'd like to talk about food photography in detail, leave a comment below and I will do my best to answer it.
Now back to the recipe, Aloo Bodi Tama, I loosely followed the recipe I shared before with more specific measurements and better instructions. If you are not familiar with bambooo shoots - they are usually at Asian or International aisle at most grocery stores in a can. If you go to an Asian store, I guarantee you can find them in all shapes/sizes/jar/can. Make sure to get the sliced ones in a can (or jar if you are going to use it regularly). The recipe itself takes less than 30 minutes but please remember to soak the black-eyed peas overnight. The method below is for a pressure cooker but you can make some adjustments below and cook aloo bodi tama in a pot as well. If you have an instant pot, I have added few notes for the instant version as well.
- 1 cup black eyed peas (soaked overnight)
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 3-4 garlic cloves, mined
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1-8 oz can sliced bamboo shoots
- 2-3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 2 medium tomato,chopped
- 2 green chillies, finely chopped, optional
- 2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin powder
- 2 teaspoon red chili powder, optional
- salt to taste
- 4-6 cups water, add more or less per your liking
- cilantro leaves, chopped (for garnish)
- lemon juice, optional
- Heat oil in a pressure cooker over medium heat. Fry onions for 5-7 minutes until lightly brown. Add garlic and ginger to the cooker and let cook for few minutes.
- Add salt, turmeric, cumin powder and let it cook for additional 2-3 stirring everything together.
- followed by potatoes.
- Add bamboo shoots, peas, tomatoes, chilies and stir everything together for few more minutes then add 4 cups of water.
- Close the pressure cooker and let it cook for 15-20 minutes until potatoes and black eyed peas are no longer hard.
- Add water if necessary and let it simmer until it reaches the desired consistency. Adjust taste as necessary.
- Remove from heat and garnish with cilantro leaves before serving. To make it more sour, squeeze lemon juice before serving.
Do you guys go back and look at your old pictures?
What food photography tips do you have? I'd love to hear.