Mother-daughter duo Vijay and Apeksha Haldia run Zayka ka Tadka, a live video cooking platform, where mothers from across India are featured daily.
Vijay Haldiya had a keen interest in cooking since she was a child. She would assist her mother in the kitchen and learnt several recipes from her. After her education, she got married, and in her own words, “wanted to focus on raising her family”.
Guests at her house were always impressed by Vijay’s cooking and asked her to write a recipe book. But her answer was always the same — “I will do it once my children grow up.”
And the 63-year-old lived up to her words.
In 2014, after her husband retired, she decided that it was her time to shine.
She first joined a Facebook group where she would share recipes daily. To her shock, she was blocked from the group. At that time, she was visiting her daughter Apeksha in the United States. It was then that Apeksha took matters into her own hands.
She says, “My mother was very upset at being blocked from the group. She asked me to reach out to the admin and find out the reason for the same, but it was of no use. I saw the joy that cooking a dish, clicking a picture, and sharing the recipe by uploading it to the group gave her.”
“So one fine evening in September 2014, as I sat snacking on my mother’s sooji (semolina) fingers and chai, I decided to open a group on Facebook. I named it ‘Zayka ka Tadka by Vijay Haldiya’. I told my mother that no one can oust you from this group as you are the admin,” Apeksha Haldia tells The Better India.
But the next challenge was getting followers. Vijay says that she was happy having her own group, but whom would she share her recipes with?
What worked to her advantage was her daughter’s digital marketing skills. An engineer with an MBA and Master’s in Sports Management, Apeksha put her skills to good use.
“I set up a WordPress site for my mother and helped her get some followers. In four months, the group had 30,000 followers,” says Apeksha.
What started as a blog and Facebook group for sharing vegetarian recipes moved to a live video cooking platform. Today, Zayka ka Tadka has over 9 million followers across its social media platforms.
Finding her wings at 55
After the Facebook group gained momentum, Apeksha moved to Ahmedabad with her husband, who was pursuing an MBA from IIM there. Her parents were in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. She focused on her dream of working in the Indian Premier League (IPL). But an incident forced the entrepreneur to quit her sports management dream and join her mother for good.
“My mother got an invitation from a newspaper to speak at an event. She spoke in front of 200 people and got a standing ovation. I realised that having her own group and sharing recipes gave her so much confidence. She was finally living her life and fulfilling her dream. So, I thought of helping her even more,” adds Apeksha.
She quit her job in 2016 and established the company. Their USP is keeping it raw and real. Apeksha visits different homes across the country and showcases a mother on a live video every day.
Regular viewers would be familiar with her tagline in every video — ‘Jo dikhta hai wahi banta hai Zayka ka Tadka mein’ (What you see is what you get).
So far, they have showcased 600–800 mothers on their platform, and their team also includes 10–12 mothers.
Vijay says, “Age is just a number. You should have the courage to go after your dreams. My life has just started post-60 and seeing so many mothers on our channel and reading their comments gives me so much happiness. It boosts me to work on more recipes. Don’t think that the best years are behind you. You can achieve anything once you put your mind to it”
She single-handedly manages their Instagram page, which has more than five lakh followers. She even did a photography course to learn how to click pictures for the platform.
But the journey hasn’t been that easy. For the first three years, they hardly had any followers.
Apeksha shares, “Since our platform is all about mother’s recipes, it is unique. As it is a novel concept, it took time to take off. I put in all my savings in the first three years. We were stuck on one lakh followers. But thanks to the support of my family, we could sustain and today it’s paid off.”
Apeksha says that getting mothers to feature in a live video was a challenge initially, but once they saw the response to their videos, their happiness was infectious.
Their platform aims to give confidence to mothers and help them gain recognition. For example, a 90-year-old grandmother cooked a recipe live on the channel, supported by her walker.
What was amazing was her husband’s reaction, who said that he was proud of her for the first time!
Some mothers like Shveta Seth, Archana Chakravarthy, and Shraddha Thakrar, are stars in their own right as their recipes are featured regularly on the platform.
“I can see a big transformation in myself. I was so hesitant and had so much fear before I was featured on this platform. Now, all my fear has disappeared. I feel like I can do anything through cooking. We generally feel so underconfident, but I realised my own strength thanks to Zayka ka Tadka,” says Shveta Seth, one of the mothers who features regularly.
“These stories and responses by mothers keep us going. That dadi (grandmother) was so happy as she finally felt recognised. Once they come in front of the camera and get these words of encouragement from their family and our viewers, they realise that they too can do anything. Many of our mothers have started small home cooking businesses after they were featured here, and some have used recipes from our platform,” says Apeksha.
Apart from encouraging mothers, they also want to be a treasure trove of recipes.
“While our mothers helped theirs in the kitchen, most of us never entered it while growing up. Cooking is an essential life skill which everyone, be it man or woman, should know. Our platform features 100-year-old recipes that are passed on through generations,” says Apeksha.
Recipes using everyday ingredients
One of the differentiators between other recipe videos and Zayka ka Tadka is the simplicity of the videos and ingredients. Everything is made using everyday household ingredients. Also, since the video is streamed in real-time, the viewers would know how much time it would take for them to cook the dish at home.
“Preparing three meals a day is a big challenge, which we all struggle with. I’ve been following Zayka ka Tadka for a long time and it’s really made my life easy. Being a mom myself, my children don’t like some vegetables like lauki (bottle gourd), padwal (snake gourd) etc. But after watching some recipes like lauki idli and kofta on the page, I cooked it for my children so that they eat these vegetables too,” says Rashmi, a viewer of the channel.
There are also many recipes that show what to make using leftover rice and rotis. They also have timed recipes, showing what you can make in 10–15 minutes for your office or children’s dabba (lunch box).
“Every day when I wake up, the first thing I see is what is getting old and will spoil soon. I then make something using that. This is what moms do everywhere, and we are just helping to showcase that. As our videos are live, many times the first dosa or cheela will not come well, but we never edit that. This helps young mothers realise that this is a problem faced by everyone, and they too get the confidence to try cooking new items,” says Vijay.
Now, they plan to start shows on their platform to show recipes that can be cooked with just one or two ingredients.
Furthermore, as Apeksha didn’t get to work in the IPL, she now runs her own ‘Zayka Premier League’ that has teams from different cities competing with food.
“We want to reach and uplift more mothers in the coming years. I strongly believe that if you empower a mother, you empower the entire family. I was there to support my mother’s dreams and want to do the same for others who don’t have familial support,” says Apeksha.
Here’s a simple onion sabzi recipe by Vijay Haldiya, when you don’t have any vegetables at home.
Edited by Pranita Bhat