Annammachedathi Special, the septuagenarian YouTube channel, features traditional as well as new-age dishes.
For Annamma Pulivelil, aka Annamma chedathi, it is a happy Christmas. Her YouTube cookery channel, Annammachedathi Special, has completed one year and has crossed 8.5 lakhs in her subscriber count.
Clad in chatta-mundu (traditional dress of Christian women in Kerala), the 78-year-old from Nadavayal in Kerala’s Wayanad district cooked up a YouTube storm with her recipes, presentation style, and that hearty smile. Back from a trip to Kaippuzha in Kottayam district, where she comes from, the septuagenarian was congratulated at a meeting of YouTubers for being the oldest YouTuber from the state. Says Annamma from Wayanad over the phone.
Speaking of Christmas festivals, Annamma says, “We had to fast on Christmas eve in Kottayam, so no non-vegetarian dishes were prepared at home. But on Christmas eve, here in Wayanad, we make kappa biryani (tapioca mashed and mixed with beef).” On Christmas day, Kozhi and pidi (curried chicken and rice dumplings) are a must. Then we make kallappam (appam made with toddy), beef curry, and the like,” she says. In the company of her son, Babu Stephen Pulivelil, Annamma cooks all the channel recipes.”
It was Sachin Thankachan, their neighbor and vlogger, who took the duo into the limelight. I had a YouTube channel and was looking for an elderly Christian woman for one episode to present a plate. It was my dad who met Annamma Chedathi. She prepared her signature fish curry, which among those who know her has quite a large fan following. I suggested starting a channel when that video went viral and she was up for it.
According to Sachin, who shoots videos with his wife, Pinchu Sachin. The couple are already running a channel on YouTube, Come On Everybody.
Sachin adds that before she met the camera, Annamma didn’t need any guidance. What was required was vachakam and pachakam (talking) (cooking). And she’s got oodles of it! She just goes with the flow, laughing a lot and cracking jokes,” says Sachin. There’s no script. The videos are taken behind Annamma’s house in a shed.
Snacks and savories are cooked by the pair in addition to non-vegetarian dishes (seafood, chicken and beef). Every month, at least 15 videos are uploaded, says Sachin. Episodes about the personal life of Annamma have earned lakhs of opinions.
I was not aware of YouTube or cooking channels until Sachin came up with this idea. I do not follow any other networks, even now. After they are posted, I watch my videos and always wonder how I managed to pull them off! ‘She’s smiling.
Cooking, she adds, has been a part of her life. Since the age of nine, she has been cooking. To take care of eight siblings, seven of them younger than her, she had to drop out of school. At the age of 18, after her marriage, she moved to Wayanad. A mother of six, she had been cooking for 11 years for the inmates of a shelter near her home.
She says, “It is an organic process when her family and relatives gush about her cooking.” I’ve been doing this for so many years now.’
Annamma and Babu have also been exhibiting goods that are not conventional. Babu, who has a hotel management diploma, says: “I’ve been working for some time in Kuwait and later in Iraq at the American military base camp.” So, I’m familiar with various kinds of cooking. I try them out when viewers ask for variety, and Ammachi is always excited about making them. We prepared the paneer masala and we made rasagulla and gulab jamun for Deepavali.
Annamma adds: “It must go on with the show, right?” I look forward to trying new recipes out there. I wish I had known that curdled milk is made from paneer! I am playing with those dishes as well. We produced a chicken curry, for example, which followed the method of preparing a fish curry.
Sachin adds that after each video is posted, Annamma makes it a point to check the number of views. People from all over the world call her, and she speaks patiently to all of them. As Babu Chettan reads out the comments on the page, she is all ears. In reality, as “ente makkal” she addresses her subscribers (my children). So, she believes she now has over 8.5 lakh kids! ”