Dish It Out: Tea Podu

Jul 28 2022. views 531

How do our food experts cook and eat? This week, vloggers of ‘Tea Podu’ – a YouTube food vlog with over 18k subscriptions and 53k followers on TikTok, Usama Naufer, Yusuf Jawed and camera handler Mohammed Rinaz take our Q&A!

What started Tea Podu? 
I have always looked up to Youtubers since childhood because I was amazed at what an individual can create with a single camera. My passion for vlogging and my love for food has been the significant reason to start Tea Podu and the criticisms I’ve received, especially from my close circle, has been the biggest motivation that has kept me going. It is called Tea Podu(which means ‘pour some tea’ in Tamil) because it’s like the Sri Lanka version of “Have a break, have a KitKat”. We Sri Lankans love tea for a break!

What was the first Tea Podu vlog that started it all? 
The first Tea Podu vlog started with a reply message to our review request DM on Instagram from Food Cycle Colombo. It is with the smallest hope we sent a message requesting to review their food and restaurant because we did not expect a reply considering the number of subscribers we had. We truly appreciate Food Cycle Colombo for giving us the opportunity to review them regardless of the number of subscribers we had.

Handling the camera work for the vlogs, what’s the favourite vlog you’ve shot so far? 
Rinaz: Definitely the Beruwala series, because that day was packed with adventures. We were able to explore so many places because we had to shoot multiple cuisines from different places on the same day, which was four videos in one day.

Your pet-peeves when you are reviewing restaurants? 
Poor customer service in terms of delay in serving. Some restaurants take a long time to prepare themselves for the video which ends up costing our time too. However, I must say it has improved.

You travel around Sri Lanka a lot to try food from different places – what’s a surprising town that had some good food? 
Akkaipattu was one place that surprised us with how unique their food tastes. Their way of seasoning even the simplest snacks such as fried tapioca differs from other parts of the country. We have not made any videos there as of now, but we’re looking forward to it. 

What’s a not-so-popular dish in Sri Lanka that people must try? 
Kizhi Parotta. It is a very popular dish in India but not in Sri Lanka because it is slightly over-priced. However, we hope more restaurants will introduce it in Sri Lanka too. 

What was your favourite childhood meal? 
Spicy poori that we used to buy from our school canteen, and of course anything related to school is now a sweet memory!

What’s a meal someone can make to impress you?
Chicken Biriyani. It’s amazing how many varieties and ways it can be made in. As of now, we have tried above twenty varieties of biriyani out of which the Karachi Sindhi Biriyani is a personal favourite.

What was the most challenging food challenge you’ve done so far? 
The world's spiciest noodles and the world's spiciest chip (Jolo Chips) challenge. We would have never tried it if were not for the video. However, it was adventurous and we enjoyed it.

Your worst dining experience?
Surprisingly, it was a restaurant at Pudhu Kada. The restaurant was so ill-prepared that we were unable to upload our vlog on the channel, since we did not want to negatively project a restaurant due to their circumstance and poor preparation.

If you could travel to any country to explore their cuisine, where would you go? 
We would love to fly to Turkey or Malaysia. We want to fly to Turkey especially to try their Authentic Kebab and experience their culture. We want to fly to Malaysia because Malaysia is rich in street food and we believe the Malaysian flavours are a unique combination of sweet, sour and spicy, unlike any other country.

What does it take for a restaurant to get a 5/5 from you?
We believe factors like friendly staff, good customer service, reasonable price, good hygiene and the ambience of a restaurant matters as much as the food to get a 5/5 from us.

When you both review the food – would you say you have similar or opposite tastes in food? 
We share the same taste in food most of the time, especially when it comes to Indian cuisine or food prepared in Jaffna style. However, there are times when we don’t agree on the same thing, which is also a good thing because our audience could learn the possibilities.

Your favourite part about being a food blogger?
The food! We’re so glad we get the opportunity to explore different food from different places.


If you could have one dish in one restaurant forever?
Butter Chicken Tikka Masala with Butter Naan from Chanas without a doubt. We love everything about that meal from taste to texture.

What’s the most exotic food you’ve eaten?
Fried Octopus when we were in Dubai.

3 months back, when the country was going through food shortages, you decided to pause vlogging and reviewing – what made you take that decision and how can vloggers and food influencers sensitively help during this time while doing what they do? 
We decided to pause vlogging and reviewing food and restaurants during the food crisis to show our compassion and support for the people of our country. It is important for bloggers to empathize with their audience to give the appropriate content. We believed our food content may not be the most preferable thing during a food shortage and suffering.



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