By Shatabdi Chakrabarti
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Videographer / Director: Chandra Sena
Producer: Shatabdi Chakrabarti, Ruby Coote
Editor: Joshua Douglas
Great grandmother Mastanamma has just celebrated her 106th birthday - making her the oldest YouTuber.
Mastanamma - or Granny as she is lovingly known - has gained over 200,000 subscribers on her channel Country Foods thanks to great grandson Laxman for showing off her culinary skills.
He had the idea one evening when him and his friends decided to make a cooking tutorial video and upload it on to YouTube.
He then thought of using Granny’s recipes when he understood the importance of preserving the traditional cooking methods.
He said: “People staying in cities have completely forgotten the traditional recipes and the traditional ways of cooking.
"Kids these days are not aware of these ways, like how to cook outdoors in a clay pot.
I wanted to show people all this. So I started thinking of a suitable person to do this. And that’s how I thought of my Mastanamma.”
Country Foods is not even a year old but has already gained a huge following, with the channel topping over 44 million views.
Laxman started the channel in August 2016 and the videos soon went viral. Mastanamma didn’t understand what all the fuss was about.
Laxman said: “Initially, she didn’t realise what was happening. She found it funny. It took her time to understand it all. But when she realised that people are watching her videos and liking them so much, she was very happy and started enjoying it.”
Watermelon chicken, Village KFC, Egg Omelette in Cucumber and Goat Leg Soup are just some of the quirky and lip-smacking recipes that Granny has taught her followers on her channel.
Handling all the ingredients with ease, from king crabs to prawns to a duck, Granny enjoys what she does.
Laxman believes very strongly that the taste in Mastanamma’s cooking and her popularity are both a result of her traditional cooking methods and her personality.
He said: “Without using any extra spices and masala, she prepares the dish amazingly. It’s how she cuts the vegetables and how she uses the spoon in the reverse direction to mix the gravy. The way she peels tomatoes and ginger - I feel everyone should learn these methods."
Growing up in a small village in Andhra Pradesh, the great-grandmother of five was married off at age 11. She never went to school and her life was spent doing household chores and taking care of the family fields and agricultural lands.
However, she always had a passion for cooking.
She said: “I didn’t study. I just used to cook. Me and my friends used to sit together and cook. That’s how we learnt. It was long back but still I remember. No one taught me. I learnt it at a very young age."
People in and around Gudivada, where she now lives, are astonished at her capabilities as a cook. Using traditional methods of cooking, Granny prepares delicious dishes in an open fire and is very proud of the fact that she is self taught.
She said: “Everyone says, ‘Mastanamma, you cook really well, where did you learn all this?’"
Mastanamma is proud of her skills. She recalls a story where she was challenged by a neighbour about her cooking.
She said: “Sukodi was talking about by pumpkin curry, saying that I was doing it wrong. I cut it, cleaned it and properly cooked it, placing it on the fire. And she kept saying I was doing it incorrectly and that it will not cook properly.
"So I got angry and challenged her for 1000 rupees. How can she say I am wrong? I have so much of experience! At the end, she said, 'Okay, I don’t know' and then she left.”
Loved by everyone around her, Mastanamma is living proof that age should never be a barrier.
She said: “It's not a mistake to learn to work, it’s a good thing. We have to just work and we can survive, that’s it.”
Laxman, who put in a lot of thought and planning to celebrate Granny’s 106th birthday said: “She loves everybody. Look at her smile. She is one of the best persons on this earth.”