Hooked on cookbooks?

COLLECTING RECIPESIt's never enough!   | Photo Credit: Photo: K. Ananthan

We may never use them. But, why can't we ever stop obsessively hoarding recipes and recipe books?

Ok, not all of us call the chef and kiss him on both the cheeks in appreciation of his chow mien, but we certainly do the next best thing — wide-eyed, we ask: how did you make it? It's irresistible, this urge to know how the dish — any dish — is made. We listen to recipes, read them, watch the dish made. We puff up when others coax us into sharing secrets behind the mawa gujia and the mint pakoda. We start a cookery blog, and look up for more.

And, copy-paste one more recipe when we have a hundred untried ones; hoard cookbooks even if we only cook from memory. Let's face it — collecting recipes is our culinary obsession.

Spectacular pictures

Says Madhavi C., HR executive with an MNC: “I buy cookbooks in the hope of becoming a good cook some day. I flip through the pages, but don't have the discipline to translate it into cooking. I try one item, and it bombs — that puts me off, and I don't try anything for a long time. She finds the dishes spectacular in the pictures, and feels there's comfort in stuffing a drawer with them. “Folks such as me, who don't get out of the comfort zone and don't have a large repertoire, surround themselves with books.”

You will agree recipe exchange is comfort conversation; a way for family bonding. “My mother loved to collect recipes from newspapers, food packets, TV / radio programmes, restaurants… anywhere she could find them,” says Rajani. “She got me to collect recipes while I was in elementary school.”

And, now she creates a recipe book every year. “I do this to honour my mom's love for collecting recipes,” she says. “Would love to see others do it too, so they get a chance to share and taste their traditional family food.”

The reasons for collecting recipes are aplenty — hobby; for just going through glossy cookbooks; to know about other countries' specialities; different approaches to the same food; to learn more…

And, there are those who make a profession out of recipe-collecting — think celebrity cook Mallika Badrinath! She started as a recipe-collecting homemaker, and at one point, decided to sort out her huge collection, tried each one of them, and put the “easiest and the best” into cyclostyled booklets. Feedback from friends was enough to convert them into books that have sold in thousands. Today, she has 12 recipe books in English, 10 books in Tamil, and three books each in Kannada and Telugu to he credit, and owns a publishing house.

How you store them is equally a la carte — on the desktop, stick them under a magnet on the refrigerator door… “Once I've tried a magazine recipe, I write it down in a notebook,” says receptionist Irene. “I also use virtual recipe boxes on websites, and add favourite website addresses and names of cookbooks and magazines.”

And, she also helps friends who throw up their hands in despair: “I really need to organise my recipe collection. I have so many I haven't tried, because I couldn't search through them. And, I still keep collecting them!” Well, that pretty much brings us to our obsession with recipe-collecting, doesn't it?

Tried these?

* My Life in France — Julia

* Child Lord Krishna’s Cuisine — Yamuna Devi

* The Joys of Vegetarian Cooking — Tarla Dalal

* A Taste of India — Madhur Jaffrey Stylish

* Indian in Minutes — Monisha Bhadwaj

* Dakshin: Vegetarian

Cuisine from South India — Chandra Padmanabhan

* Sanjeev Kapoor’s books