October is Cookbook Month. With technology stepping into the kitchen big time, is it the end of the road for the traditional recipe book?

Technology has pervaded our homes so much so that LED TVs are installed in kitchens to watch cookery shows. Laptops and tablets which come with cooking and baking apps flaunt interesting features like descriptive narratives, embedded pictures, infographics, animated videos, links and even built-in timers and are a common sight in the kitchen. With October being observed as National Cookbook Month, one wonders if technology has sounded the death knell for cookbooks, the kind that are covered with splatters of batter, scrimped jotting and sticky notes. Given that working in a kitchen calls for good organisational skills, Mihika Guha, a newlywed says: “It can be quite daunting to have hefty cookbooks lie on the kitchen counter and it’s a tad difficult to keep referring to a written recipe. I love baking and websites like joyofbaking.com have made life a whole lot simpler for me. If I’ve got my tablet or phone with me, I go to popular apps such as Big Oven and Recipe Finder. My favourite is Betty Crocker’s Mobile Cookbook. It’s economical too!”

Vaishnavi Reddy, owner of a home-baking enterprise, The Sugar Goddess, says: “I rely on a lot of food blogs for my recipes. Hence, it is easier for me to use the iPad in the kitchen. That said, I don't think laptops and tablets have come to replace cookbooks. I still use all of my cookbooks. I use my iPad only for the recipes from blogs and for other information which may not be there in a cookbook.”

For Vinesh Johnny, owner and chef at Lavonne, “Some cookbooks have a special place in my heart and on my kitchen shelf but keeping abreast with the times is also necessary which is why I do have a few apps installed on my phone that I refer to at times.” He adds: “I think it is convenience that has made room for laptops and tablets in our kitchens. With an interface as good as the one that tablets boast of now, you can swipe, scroll, switch tabs, zoom, tap, etc so one’s experience of cooking itself becomes quite engaging and interesting.”

According to Jeeva George, economist and founder of Jeeva-Glutenfreeliv.in, “Tablets and laptops are great because they help with mobility. One might argue that you could take a book and place it on your kitchen counter but most cookbooks are heavy and you don't want it being covered with your cooking ingredients. With a tablet, phone or an iPad you can access it from anywhere, bookmark the recipe. Not having to take a printout is the best thing!”

While tabs and smartphones are here to stay, Jeeva doesn’t suppose they will immediately replace the cookbook. “I feel that there is something truly enticing and magical about cookbooks — it is like the argument, will the e-book replace paper and the answer for now is ‘no’! I buy a lot of e-cook books on my Kindle but I really enjoy going through cookbooks and the photographs in some of them are such eye candy. They definitely increase the drool quotient.”

With the gazillion recipe sites, food blogs and mobile apps for cooking and baking that are so easily available, for some it is only a matter of time before cookbooks become classic memorabilia that are too dear to part with yet too limited to use on a daily basis. And for a whole lot of others, a cookbook will always tug at one’s heartstrings with nostalgia, taking you back to another place and time, allowing you a small getaway from the here and now!