Exploring Tamil Cuisine: A Journey with Adharsh Kumar and 'Not Your Amma's Kitchen'
Adharsh Kumar is the creative force behind Not Your Amma's Kitchen, crafting cinematic Tamil and Indian cuisine.
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Tamil food is globally renowned for its rich flavours, vibrant colours, and aromatic spices that elevate each dish. Adharsh Kumar offers a fresh perspective on Tamil cuisine by presenting it in cinematic and visually stunning cooking videos. His approach to cooking and capturing Tamil food sets him apart from how your Amma traditionally cooks home meals–referring to himself as "Not Your Amma's Kitchen."

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Adharsh Kumar, the creative force behind Not Your Amma's Kitchen, has taken the social media world by storm. Since its launch in January 2024, Not Your Amma's Kitchen has amassed an impressive following, with over 78K followers on Instagram and more than 27K followers on TikTok and counting. This success is a testament to the captivating content that showcases the preparation of classic Tamil dishes like 'Rasam' and 'Sambar,' skillfully capturing the essence of each ingredient in a cinematic style.

I interviewed Adharsh Kumar to learn about the inspiration behind his page, his experience as an emerging influencer, and how Tamil culture influences his video creation.

Adharsh is an Indian Tamil originally from the US but was raised in Singapore, bringing a blend of Western and Indian influences to his content. After studying marketing and finance in New York, he ventured into fashion before transitioning to analytics in Texas during the pandemic. His journey into food content creation stemmed from a passion for cooking and a desire for transparent recipes, bridging cultural gaps between first-generation individuals who follow traditional recipes without exact measurements and second-generation cooks who are Westernized but want to prepare traditional dishes. Not Your Amma's Kitchen emphasizes visual creativity and recipe transparency, departing from conventional cooking videos dominated by Indian aunties online. Inspired by a need for more diversity in Indian food content, he aims to modernize the genre with visually appealing content. Despite his unexpected viral success, he remains focused on producing engaging content and growing his platform.

I asked Adharsh what inspired him to choose the name "Not Your Amma's Kitchen" for his brand. 

I thought it was hilarious," he says. Adharsh explains that initially, he intended to annoy his mom. "There's this tongue-in-cheek dynamic many South Asians have with their moms—they're strict authority figures, and I see myself as a bit rebellious. It's a way of playfully poking at that relationship dynamic, which I think many Indians can relate to.

Adharsh shares that the second reason for his brand's name is to break away from the stereotype of Indian moms influencing their children's diet. "For example, my mom might say a dish is high in protein and low in carbs, but I'd argue otherwise based on its macronutrient content."

For this reason, the name Not Your Amma's Kitchen was chosen to align with his long-term goal of developing recipes that cater to individuals who crave the traditional flavors of their mother's cooking while also being mindful of the nutritional and macronutrient profile of the food they consume.

Adharsh's content showcases traditional dishes in a cinematic and aesthetically pleasing manner, prompting me to ask, "What motivated you to start creating content in this particular style?"

"The reason behind it is because it looks cool," says Adharsh. He shares that his video style has evolved throughout his creative process. However, he consistently showcases his ingredients because each possesses its own unique characteristics, and it's intriguing to visually emphasize their color or texture.

"For example, I showcased a recipe using “cholam,” it's a grain that some people in the comments were unfamiliar with, sparking curiosity."

Adharsh stands out by using close-ups, syncing with music, and making the content dynamic. "In a saturated market, these techniques help differentiate my content and engage viewers."

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I asked Adharsh, "What challenges have you faced in building your brand as a relatively new internet cooking influencer? How have you overcome these challenges?"

Adharsh finds it challenging to balance his full-time job with video creation. "I spend 20 to 30 hours filming, planning, and editing these videos—it's like having another full-time job."

Another challenge he faces is differentiation and brand building. Adharsh predicts that similar content will surface on social platforms sooner or later. Thus, he understands that he needs to be frequent and consistent with his content to build a well-known brand.

Adharsh also struggles with monetization as a content creator. "I'd love to do this full-time, but it's tricky to navigate as an independent creator. I want to build brand partnerships with products that align with my content without being disingenuous or overly promotional."

He also shares that predicting whether a video will do well is challenging: "Ultimately, I'm at the mercy of the algorithm."

However, Adharsh remains motivated in his journey. He believes this brand could become significant, embodying a unique blend of his heritage, passion for food and nutrition, marketing analytics, and business background. 

Additionally, the positive feedback and excitement from people who resonate with my content keep me going. It's incredibly encouraging to receive comments or messages expressing happiness about seeing their culture represented or finding joy in my videos. I believe a larger movement in cultural representation is happening, where Indian culture, including the diaspora, is gaining more mainstream visibility. Being a part of this movement and contributing to the transparency and visibility of South Indian culture is fulfilling.

I asked Adharsh, "What does Tamil culture represent to you, and how important is it in your videos and the authentic storytelling of your video creation?"

Adharsh shares that he naturally felt drawn to assimilate into the American culture during the transition from being a teenager to an adult in his early twenties. However, upon moving to Austin, he found himself seeking comfort in childhood elements, including his culture.

"I began to appreciate my culture more. Food, in particular, became more significant. Before, if my mom had made spinach dal or sambar, I might have preferred going out to eat. But now, when they visit, I'm asking for home made dishes."

He explains that food, music, and movies evoke nostalgia, and appreciating these cultural aspects helps him connect with his extended family, making them meaningful as they provide a sense of belonging and community.

Growing up as a third-culture kid—born American but not raised in America, living in Singapore but not being Singaporean, being Indian but not growing up in India—was isolating in many ways. This journey with Not Your Amma's Kitchen has been my way of forging a stronger connection with my cultural identity.

The interview concluded with Adharsh sharing some parting advice for aspiring content creators.

"I wouldn't have seen the growth I did without researching what was missing and how I could fill that gap effectively. However, even in a saturated market, content creators can still thrive. Authenticity is crucial. People want to see genuine human experiences, not overly scripted or fake. It's about finding something you genuinely resonate with to showcase because that authenticity shines through. If you connect with it, others will, too. 

Moreover, loving what you do. Ultimately, having a genuine passion for your work will sustain you in the long run. Without that love, burnout becomes a real risk. So, as cliché as it may sound, doing what you love is crucial."

Check out @notyourammaskitchen on Instagram and TikTok for aesthetically pleasing Tamil traditional cooking videos and to learn about South Asian cuisine.

Indojaa Sathiyaseelan
Toronto,  Canada
I have a versatile professional background in marketing, writing, and media. I am p...
I have a versatile professional background in marketing, writing, and media. I am p...
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