Some of you may not know her name, but someone on your Facebook may have once shared a video of Mastanamma, a grey-haired grandmother from Andhra Pradesh, who became an unlikely YouTube sensation through her channel 'Country Foods' thanks to her unique style of traditional cooking. But as of today, you won't see Mastanamma slave away in the paddy fields in her cotton sari anymore, you won't see her toothless grin, as the 107-year-old social media star breathed her last in Andhra Pradesh's Guntur on Tuesday.
Mastanamma was the personification of 'it's never too late' and 'thinking-out-of-the-box', her channel was started well-after she had lived over a hundred years, and although she had no birth certificate, it was hard to contest someone who could cook chicken inside a watermelon.
Her channel, was started by K Laxman, a distant relative of Mastanamma's and his friend Srinath Reddy, and in just two years it became one of the most widely viewed channels with around 12 lakh subscribers. Some of her videos have as many as 12 million views.
What made Mastanamma unique was that nothing she did needed gimmicks, her adoring smile and love for food left everyone with warmth, most of the comments on her videos would either commend her cooking skills, or gush about how she reminded people of their own grandmothers.
The vast paddy field was her kitchen, she cooked with fresh and easily available ingredients, spices that she foraged from the fields, no fancy cooktops, just her open hand-made mud stove, and her grand-daughter Ragini assissting her every once in a while. The centenarian would even go to the lengths of peeling vegetable with her hands. Some of her most recipes include emu egg fry, chicken with sorrel leaves, chicken biryani cooked in smoked bamboo, curries made with lamb intestines, quail eggs, goat legs, lamb head and even beef paya. And while she stuck to traditional recipes, insisting that seafood was her speciality, on being coaxed by Laxman and Reddy, she did make a chicken burger and KFC chicken too.
Other than cooking, Mastanamma would often share anecdotes from her life, in one video, she spoke about being teased by two boys in her village when she was young, she said, "One guy touched my hand and I threw him into the river. His brother asked me to save him, I said how dare he touch me! Finally, I saved him," Mastanamma grinned toothlessly, adding "From then, nobody teased me again."
A lot of wisdom is lost when great chefs like Mastanamma pass away, her loss is a great one to the culinary world, amateurs and professionals alike, we here at IFN will truly miss you.