Vikhroli Cucina

Five tips on how to publish a cookbook

26 February 2016 , 0 comments / 3 likes
There is magic in opening a new cookbook, leafing through it and deciding which recipes to cook. But have you ever wondered how a cookbook is made? Contestants at Vikhroli Cucina Season 2 got a taste of the process as they put together some fantastic pasta dishes during the Great Publishing Race
The second edition of Vikhroli Cucina played host to a race of a different kind. The unique event called Great Publishing Race was curated by the APB Food Book Club which is run by cookbook aficionado Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal.

According to Rushina, a cook off can be a fun way to create a recipe for a cookbook. "I wanted to give cookbook aficionados an insight into the process of creation of a cookbook: the planning, the recipe trials, the documentation, the photo shoot and marketing the idea," says Rushina, who is a corporate food consultant for Godrej Nature's Basket as well as the head of APB Cook Studio.

Creating a cookbook is not easy. Knowledge is important, Rushina says. "Assess your strengths, be honest about them and study the subject deeply. Only when you have a solid cooking foundation will you be able to build on it." Just as important is having a solid book proposal. "It is your introduction to an editor and will set you apart from other authors in your field," says Rushina. According to her, a well thought out book proposal also plays another important role: It becomes a map to work with as you write the book.

The most important part of a cookbook is the recipe. The Great Publishing Race event thus became a live demo of the process of creating recipes.

The Challenge
Three teams of four food lovers, comprising a motley mix of popular food bloggers and hotel management students competed against one another to cook an innovative dish while simultaneously compiling a recipe. Each team had 35 minutes to pick a recipe name, collect the ingredients, strategise, prep, cook, plate, photograph and put up one recipe.

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The mystery box
The contestants had to toss up classic pasta dishes with a twist using a mystery box of fresh ingredients and herbs sourced from The Trees' urban farm. The contestants were given the names and the ingredients. They had to figure the recipe out on their own and document it. "Ensure each recipe is as precise, clear and intuitive as possible. Recipes should be properly written so that anyone can successfully cook them," points out Rushina.

The panel
The judges for the event were Mohit Khattar, CEO of Godrej Nature's Basket; Rushina and Kunal Vijaykar, renowned television show host and food enthusiast.

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The judging criteria
The three classic dishes picked were Creamy Mushroom Pasta, Macaroni and Cheese, and Aglio e Olio with Cherry Tomatoes. The contestants would be scored on the basis of their teamwork, innovation, recipe organisational ability and food-styling skills, and most importantly, the taste of their final creation.

The teams could work with ingredients from their Godrej Nature's Basket mystery boxes. In addition, they had to use two organic ingredients from the urban farm, either as part of the dish or as garnish. On offer were herbs, edible flowers and baby vegetables.

The race
The excitement in the make-shift kitchen was palpable. On receiving the green light from Rushina, the teams rushed to pick up the ingredients. Knife skills of the participants were on display as they chopped, quartered and julienned fresh produce for their dishes. Pans sizzled and the heady aroma of spices wafted into the air.

While two team members cooked, the other two were in charge of writing the recipe down and getting the final pictures printed. The pictures were extremely important because as Rushina explains, "Well styled photographs greatly enhance a cookbook. Ensure your recipe matches the image."

Chef Irfan Pabaney of The Sassy Spoon assessed the contestants' progress and boosted their morale as they raced against time to plate up.

Once the final bell had sounded, the contestants presented their preparations to the judges who lauded their impeccable plating skills. Team three brought in a unique twist to the rustic Aglio e Olio by adding laal maat, spinach and herb oil for garnish. Team two revived Macaroni and Cheese, an old comfort food, by serving it with a side of tangy salsa. Ultimately, it was team one's Indian spin on the Creamy Mushroom Pasta that kept the judges going back for more. They were impressed with the clever blend of Indian palak and quintessential Italian flavours in a Lasooni Palak Creamy Mushroom Pasta.

Given the time limitation, one thing that the contestants could not do is test their recipes. But Rushina says that aspiring cookbook authors should not skip this crucial step. "Test your recipes at least twice. Pay close attention to weights and measures. Ensure they work or you will acquire a reputation of badly tested recipes."

And the winner is...
The judges lavished praise on the contestants for their brilliant renditions of classic pasta recipes. A self-confessed pasta hater, Kunal Vijaykar was fascinated by the various flavours infused into the food. Talking about their plating skills, Mohit Khattar complimented the contestants for their thorough job. And the winners, Purabi Naha, Disha Khurana, Pari Vasisht and Mitul Manghani walked away with irresistible goodies and the knowledge that they had floored the judges with their mouth-watering dish, the Lasooni Palak Creamy Mushroom Pasta.
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