Celebrate your family's heirloom recipes with this new project by The Alipore Post and recipe journal, Nivaala
Homemade food really works like a balm. We discovered this recently after a bout of COVID-19 when love poured from all over in the form of home-cooked food. In the spirit of honouring this bond that everyone has with traditional recipes, popular newsletter The Alipore Post and recipe journal Nivaala have launched a new project called Recipe Postcard Exchange.
"The inception of Nivaala came about from a personal loss that I faced a few years back when I lost my mother, and realised that I hadn't written down or learnt any of our family recipes," tells the founder Shruti Taneja. She along with Rohini Kejriwal, the founder of The Alipore Post, combined their shared love for food and letter writing in this project. We speak to them about the project and what's in store for food lovers out there:
Tell us a little about Nivaala.
Shruti: Nivaala is a brand rooted in food and culture, uniting people who are passionate about their familial food and preserving their culinary legacy. With a mission to inspire people to treasure family recipes as heirlooms, which are just as significant as the saris and jewellery that we inherit, I created Nivaala, an heirloom recipe journal.
What's your aim with this recipe exchange programme?
S: It’s been said that cooking for someone is one the most profound ways to show that you care. Considering we’re not able to cook for anyone now, sharing a secret family recipe is a way to show that you care.
The aim is simply to spread a little joy while we’re all stuck at home, and who wouldn’t love to receive a personalised handwritten mail. It’s one of the easiest ways to make someone’s day, we feel!
What is it about postcards that you both love so much?
Rohini: I personally love the brevity of postcards. It’s a short, thoughtful way of telling someone you thought of them. I won’t call myself a collector but I also love stamps for their imagery. So sticking stamps and dropping the postcard into the postbox is another moment of joy in this process. Oh, and I love that the postcard has travelled, maybe even read by others, but it eventually reaches safely in the hands of the intended recipient.
S: I think there is something magical about handwritten notes, which are written especially for you. It’s something that you treasure safely and never throw away, maybe even leave it in a book you’re reading and stumble upon it years later - and it’s guaranteed to leave a smile on your face. To me, postcards are just a way to show that love exists in the little things.
According to you, what is the importance of preserving recipes?
S: Every family has a story about the food they cook. Even the bad cooks in the family remain part of the family stories. Preserving these recipes is tied to preserving the family history; it’s about saving and honouring the heritage so that future generations can continue to strengthen those ties.
Like photo albums that capture our moments in photographs, recipes of the food cooked just the way it was meant to bring alive the moment. As the next generation, we need to take over these family traditions. We cannot wait until it’s too late and there is no one to learn from, or the older generation is too weak to teach.
How did this collaboration happen?
R: Shruti presented this incredible sounding collaboration idea to me and I was smitten. I had heard of Nivaala through Goya Journal but when I saw the labour of love and how beautifully storytelling is woven into the brand, new ideas kept pouring out. I don’t know what it was but Shruti’s energy combined with the idea of food, storytelling, postcards and stamps made this flow very organically.
S: I’ve been following The Alipore Post for a while now, and I remembered reading about the Chitthi Exchange too. This one morning while scrolling through Instagram, I had a light bulb moment and thought that Nivaala would be a perfect fit with The Alipore Post and we should encourage people to exchange recipes using postcards. And I decided to take a leap of faith by sending a cold direct message (DM) to Rohini, and to my surprise, she replied within two hours (despite Nivaala being such a small brand!) and we both just texted back and forth the entire day to flesh out the idea. We launched a week later.
How has the response been so far?
R: So positive and joyful! Everyone I’ve mentioned this project to has liked the idea, especially during the pandemic when we’re spending so much time in our kitchens.
Have you faced any challenges?
R: The only challenge, I can think of, is to reach the right people. We’ve had people ask us questions like ‘Why should I send my recipe on a postcard and not WhatsApp?’ It’s been a fun challenge to convince them that the postcard writing community worldwide is alive and well. And, we’re here to stay! Handwritten notes and letters are evergreen, they’ll never get old.
Here is how it works:
1. Share your recipe: Order your postcard and tell them your favourite family recipe.
2. Tell them the recipient: Send the name and address of the lucky person you’re sending the
3. Wait for the magic: The duo will handwrite your recipe on the postcard, affix the stamps and drop it
off at the post office.