Nambie Jessica Marak’s recipe video for roselle and beef begins with her picking fresh roselle leaves from her garden, where her corn plants have exceeded her height. Along the way, she collects wood for a fire and a few stray plums that have fallen to the ground. On her ‘Eat Your Kappa’ channel, the cooking often doesn’t start until halfway through the video, with her young daughter and mother’s chatter in the background. “The food I cook is rustic village food, cooked outdoors in sooty utensils by people wearing everyday clothes,” Marak explains in an interview with Condé Nast Traveler India. “Certainly not something outside of the MasterChef sets.”
Born and raised in Shillong, Marak shoots all of her videos in Upper Rangsa, a village nestled in the forests of the West Khasi Hills of Meghalaya, where her family is from. But the idea of creating a YouTube channel on the gastronomy of her region came to her while she was studying for a Masters in Communication in Chennai. “Ten years ago, when I landed in Chennai, the only things I could approach from the northeast were the momos,” she says. So Marak took matters into her own hands and started learning to cook the foods she loved instead. But the Internet has not been of much help to him. Northeast Indian recipes were scarce, and the few that she managed to find were in languages she did not understand. Marak saw an opportunity: “I had the idea to start a Northeastern food chain that would cater to all the different tribes in northeastern India, would be easy to understand and in English.
The long journey home
His videos first circulated among his friends and family and slowly new subscribers began to arrive. When her channel was recognized by a digital publication in 2017, views suddenly increased. But with that came the trolls, who posted comments insulting her clothes, the utensils she used, and the food she cooked. “The trolling was so bad I just thought about giving up,” she says. “But my friends and family were supportive of me, so I kept making my videos without being ashamed of my cheap plastic shoes, house clothes, or sooty utensils.” Today, Eat Your Kappa has over 35,000 subscribers.