Isolation Cooks is a social media project chronicling our collective food journey in times of global isolation

A simple idea started over a conversation in the kitchen, has led to an initiative which curates quarantine cooking stories as a window into how people are coping in the midst of a pandemic

Sonali Shenoy Published :  05th April 2020 07:11 PM   |   Published :   |  05th April 2020 07:11 PM


Cooking = coping. And that's what inspired 'Isolation Cooks'  - a social media initiative documenting what's going on in kitchens around the world -  as a window to how people are dealing with fears and anxieties in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Started four days ago, by a group of friends in India, working from home under the 21-day nation-wide lockdown, the idea we are told was birthed from a conversation in the kitchen. Kavita Kishore, a freelance journalist (36) shares with us, "My friend Avinash has been staying over during the lockdown, and we've been taking turns cooking. Avinash and I have been wanting to start a project documenting recipes across the country for a while now, and we were talking about it, and then one of us commented that everyone was suddenly sharing recipes during the lockdown. A lot of these people had never cooked before, and others were trying to make dishes they would ordinarily order, because they were either not available, or people were too scared to order in. That's when we realised that documenting what's happening in people's kitchens could give us a different insight into how people were coping during this stressful period."

This realisation quickly led to Kavita and friend Avinash Chandrashekar, freelance software developer (30) based out of Chennai to reach out to more friends - Mihir Ranganathan, a graphic designer and illustrator (39) also in the same city and Nivya Vijayan, a freelance social media marketer (22) who lives in Pune. 

Over a short span of time, of putting the word out - the four-member team now has submissions from multiple cities within India like Mumbai, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Pune, Bengaluru and union territory, Puducherry, as well a growing list from parts of the US and UK. "We want recipes, anecdotes, funny images... I really want someone to send us a picture of a sink piled high with dirty dishes," she says with a laugh, reflecting a domestic boo-hoo we can all currently relate to.

Running through the Isolation Cooks Instagram grid, we discover that comfort via food and cooking it comes in so many different forms. @supersterr in New York prepares South-Indian style Lemon rice and vendakkai (okra) poriyal for a taste of home. Meanwhile, @captain_catpain in Chennai draws a sense of calm from the heady aroma of onions being slow-cooked and caramelised in ghee.

Now, sharing cooking stories and recipes is not new. We've all seen the increased number of recipes popping across the Internet with the need for Do It Yourself meals, while living in quarantine. But the hope with this project is to go beyond the practical how-tos, stocking tips and instructional videos. And instead whip up a melting pot of shared kitchen experiences, in the very real daily struggle of isolation.

Kavita says, "Food is something that always brings people together. Everyone needs to eat, and everyone is cooking. Maybe by putting it all together, it's possible that people feel a little less lonely."

Follow @Isolationcooks on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. You can WhatsApp your submissions to +919345213613, email or simply #isolationcooks on your next social media food post.