Name: Teenuja and Kevin
Blog name: Veganlovlie
Where were you born? We were both born in Mauritius — a small island in the Indian Ocean; it’s just a dot but it’s there.
Where are you living now? We are now living in Saint-Lambert, Quebec. We moved to Canada three and a half years ago after living in a few countries.
Why did you start your blog?
The Veganlovlie blog was started by Teenuja in 2008 and Kevin eventually joined in this amazing adventure. This blog was initially a way for me (Teenuja) to learn more, explore and share experiences of my then new vegan journey. Gradually, as our recipes became more liked, tried and appreciated, we decided to experiment with the YouTube channel. The channel brought a totally new dimension of interaction and this gave us the opportunity to better showcase our recipes in a more artistic, concise manner and be closer to our audience.
How did you decide on your blog name?
Lovlie or Lovliebutterfly is an online pseudonym that I (Teenuja) was often using before I started the blog. Since the blog started with me and I was going to write about vegan food and vegan related topics, I picked the name VeganLovlie without much thought to it. When Kevin joined in, we did consider changing the name but a lot of people recognise the blog by this name, so for the moment we’ve put the idea aside.
What do you blog about?
We mostly share vegan recipes that depict a Mauritian fusion cuisine style. We intend to inspire and shine the light on Mauritian cuisine and share its uniqueness with the world. As we’ve been travelling and enjoying the cuisine of different countries and cultures for quite a while, we’ve developed and perfected a fusion kind of approach in the variety of recipes that we present.
What post on your blog most encapsulates you?
Well, one post is probably not going to entirely encapsulate us. So here are two.
Mauritian cuisine is really an amalgam of various cultures that results in something really unique. It is very common to have dishes from various cuisines to be part of the same meal. For that reason, it is really not easy to encapsulate the blog through one post only. But we feel the Mauritian Rougaille probably portrays the essence of the Mauritian cuisine where modest ingredients come together to create a really flavoursome Creole-style dish.
As simple as a rougaille dish is to make, its uniqueness and complex flavours come from the combination of the fresh French herbs like thyme and parsley and Indian notes from the coriander and curry leaves. Added to that, a bold layer of heat from the chilli (as is typical in many Mauritian dishes), used alongside the base components of a tomato sauce that is onions, garlic and ginger. Traditionally, it is very common to prepare the rougaille in a cast iron pan; this gives it another depth of flavour. The rougaille is a versatile dish and other ingredients can be added to the base sauce. Our Red Kidney Beans and Mushroom Rougaille is a delicious vegan version.
This post is not our usual recipe one; from time to time we like to let more of ourselves to shine through. What Kevin and I put out there is what we are; this goes beyond recipe posts and videos. Through this particular post — that also comes with a video — as I make a pumpkin chocolate cake, I share some thoughts on living in the present moment from my life experience and from what I’ve learnt by observing my sister who is pretty laid-back, carefree and relatively slow-moving, by definition.
We are all so focused on achievement and working towards our goal for the next big thing to happen that very often we forget the beauty with which life unfolds. If enjoyment is not there, then it is not worth it.
From time to time we need to stop, and smell the roses, or eat chocolate cake, for there are no ordinary moments in life. This post as well as the video encapsulates the fundamental aspect by which Kevin and I approach life.
Which post do you wish received more love and why?
Our Mauritian Biryani with Okra and Soya Chunks recipe. This is a highly aromatic rice dish that can be prepared with various vegetables and/or meat. Our vegan version is a simplified and adapted one that makes it easier to prepare at home.
Even though this one-pot dish sounds a little daunting, it is no more difficult than a curry to do. Once the vegetables are mixed with the spice gravy, they are then layered with rice into the pot with the required amount of water and then cooked on low heat, or in the oven, until the rice is done.
We truly encourage anyone who love a good biryani ordered at an Indian restaurant to give this homemade Mauritian version a try. It’s a little different from the Indian version in terms of spices and also the addition of fried potatoes and onions.
Which post’s success surprised you and why?
We actually have two posts — one on the YouTube channel and another which is both on the blog and the channel.
On the YouTube channel: Stir-fried Vegetable Spaghetti recipe.
We have no idea how this video took off and went viral. It’s not our best video that we’ve put out there. It is among the first videos we made. There are so many spaghetti recipes from bigger channels than ours so, we still haven’t figured it out. We do think the recipe is really an original one though and one that we also make regularly.
On the blog: Sweet Potato Flatbread / Roti recipe.
This one has been successful on the channel too. When we shared this recipe, which only require two ingredients, we had no idea it would be so well liked. It’s one of our most shared recipes on social media and we have received many emails and photos from people who have made and loved it.
What’s your biggest challenge as a blogger?
Both of us left our jobs to devote ourselves full-time to the blog and channel.
We have resolved ourselves to try and include a video with every recipe post. So, things get a little more time consuming. A video shoot does not always turn out to be how we anticipated. There is a difference between making a cake, for example, in one go and filming the making of it. Leave the batter for a little too long and the cake won’t rise properly. So, we sometimes end up re-shooting part of some recipes. Very often we find ourselves with a lot of food to eat!
We’ve set up a schedule of one post/video per week. Even with the two of us, this is a tight schedule. Editing and rendering videos (with the quality that we strive to obtain) do take time, given that we also have rather basic equipment and quite small space at the moment. Apart from this, sometimes rendering takes longer than anticipated or we spot minor editing errors afterward.
Share a couple of your favourite food blogs to read. Why do you like them? (include URLs).
I tend to read more food blogs than Kevin does. He is more into the filming, video editing, technical, social and occasional recipe creation side. So, I’ll give you my two favourite food blogs.
Bittersweet Blog by Hannah Kaminsky. I have been reading Hannah’s blog ever since I started blogging back in 2008. At that time there was a real community on the blogosphere. Many of the blogs I used to read are no longer active now but Hannah’s is still around and I’ve enjoyed seeing the evolution of the blog, her gorgeous photography and beautiful writing. I love the variety of her posts, ranging from recipes to reviews and occasionally just a silent stream of photo storytelling.
Meghan Telpner. I only quite recently started reading Meghan’s blog after I had the chance to see her in person at the FBC Conference in Montreal in 2015. Her radiance and joie de vivre has captivated me ever since. In her speech at the FBC Conference, she was asked about what is the most challenging thing for her. She said to remain true to yourself no matter what you are doing. This really hit home as I could instantly relate. Her blog is really varied in topics and a lot of them are things that interest me like natural beauty care and her “Life + Love” section where she shares thoughtful insights on life. I enjoy her video shows too, especially the live ones that she does from time to time.
Favourite food – care to share a recipe or a restaurant destination?
Being food enthusiasts and recipe bloggers, we have more than one. But we recently revived one of our childhood favourite recipes and made a vegan version of it. It’s the Mauritian-style Macaroni Fricassee with Bean Curd Skin. Despite being very simple, this dish is absolutely tasty. Both Kevin and I really enjoyed how this recipe turned out; the taste was really reminiscent of the dish our mums used to make and this is exactly what we wanted to achieve. So, that’s our current favourite. Otherwise, the Vegetable Biryani (that we shared above) is our all-time favourite.
What are you working on next for your blog?
We are mostly focussed on the YouTube channel at the moment. In terms of new recipes, we are working on more exciting original and creative recipes. We are also looking forward to do some collabs with other bloggers/channels in the near future. So, if anyone out there who is in the same niche as us, is interested, please do get in touch.
What else should we know about you that may or not be in your “About Me” page?
We are both artists and designers. When we are not cooking, blogging or making videos, we spend our time making art. I enjoy painting, making crafts and some handmade jewellery from time to time although I tend to do less of these now. If there are any pieces of paper lying around the house, Kevin is sure going to be drawing some cool illustration on it. He has previously worked as a Concept Artist and Lead Illustrator in the game and film industry. He occasionally does some freelancing. We both enjoy watching Japanese animes; the Dragon Ball series and One Piece are our favourites!
What makes your blog unique?
What gives our blog its uniqueness is that we really made it into a unique kind of Mauritian cuisine by veganizing everything and adding a good dollop of the culinary influence from the countries that we have visited and lived in. This has resulted into a beautiful fusion and opened up endless creative possibilities. In our videos, we also take care to show in detail how the ingredients are being prepared, the chopping and step by step cooking process to show those who might be intimidated by the whole process of cooking that it is not difficult. We strive to make it look fun and something to look forward to.
What part of the FBC site do you find most useful?
The Blogger Resources. We cannot pick a particular sub category as they are all invaluable. It’s a fabulous section from which we keep learning. I also like the Spice Box as I am so fond of spices and use them all the time in our recipes.
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