Vikhroli Cucina

6 Steps to writing a recipe that the world can cook

05 September 2018 , 0 comments / 0 likes
Do you think developing recipes can be tricky? Wait till you start writing them. Recipes and cookbooks are often straightforward and to-the-point. But we rarely realise that recipes can be written and told as narratives too. While you are noting down every little thing your reader needs to know, you tend to miss out on some tiny details that can make cooking an exhilarating experience.

A masterclass presented by Godrej Veg Oils at the recently concluded Culinary Chroniclers Conclave explored the nuances of writing emphatic recipes. Ankiet Gulabani, Founder & Editor, Belly Over Mind, the stream champion doled out interesting tips on recreating recipes on paper with the same magic they create on the plate.

Writing for a global audience
Recipes spark conversations; they bring people together and introduce them to different cultures. Hence, writing recipes in structures that resound globally is critical especially when you are taking Indian recipes global. If you break down the recipe into one standard structure, everyone, everywhere can understand.

The visual appeal
A picture is worth a thousand words, but words can paint a magical picture too. While writing recipes, give visual cues throughout it. If something has to be roasted till it turns a golden yellow, specify it. Tell your reader what to expect from a particular step. A visual cue is helpful when you are writing methods that are not well known.

Images and straps
When recipe books don’t have pictures, the reader doesn’t know what the outcome should look. Everything is left to the imagination. The reader can only hope that their recipe turns out exactly how the writer intended to. We have moved into a digital age where visuals drive engagement and readership. You need to support your recipe with an image of the final dish now more than ever. Along with an image, you must also add a strap or a small introduction which gives your reader a gist of your recipe.

Style
Style guides help you bring uniformity to your recipe. They help you list your ingredients better and write precise methods. Select a style that you are most comfortable with. You can choose between one where you list the ingredient first, followed by its quantity (Flour 125 g) and then the method or the one where you list the quantity followed by the ingredient (125g flour) and the method.

List the ingredients in the order of their appearance in the recipe. Making a list saves a lot of time. If an ingredient has to be prepped a certain way, mention that as well. Your recipe should handhold the reader to do their prep.

While listing ingredients, numbers don’t go well together. For example, you should write 1 (250 ml) small can of condensed milk and not 1 250 ml can of condensed milk. It can confuse the reader. If the ingredient name starts with an alphabet, it must be in upper case.

Remember that you are writing for a global audience. Use generic names for ingredients and avoid specifying local brand names of the product because your reader might not have access to the brand and may get confused.

Breaking down the recipe
If it is a long recipe, which has many sections, break it down. The ingredients also need to be divided as per the section. Likewise, if you are using the same ingredient in two sections, mention it in the ingredient list for both the components.

While writing the method, every new section should begin in a new paragraph. If you need your reader to shift their focus from a task at hand, break the paragraph. When a recipe is short and if an ingredient has to be used three or four times, then you must add – divided/ plus extra after the ingredient. For example, if you need to divide the ingredient into parts, you write 2 cups of sugar divided. You can write 2 cups of sugar plus extra where you want the reader to suit their taste or where a little extra sugar won’t make a difference.

Method
Recipes are often described in linear, cutthroat manner. We often tend to forget that recipes can also be narrated beautifully. You can share your experiences while cooking the recipe. Describe the sound and the colour of the food. It makes the recipe more interesting for the reader and gives him a better idea of what to expect from the step.

Words such as folding, blending, blanching are standard terms and widely used in international cuisines. While writing an Indian recipe book, try to put Indian cooking into standard cooking terms. Use these words wherever they deem fit.

Another critical thing to note while writing a method is to mention the size and make of your cookware. Each cookware is different with different evaporation rates, different material which imparts a different taste to the food.

Stovetop heat indication is vital throughout the recipe. Give specific instructions about the intensity of the flame and also about the time a particular ingredient has to be cooked. State the cooking time for the process you are describing with ample visual cues.

Storage and serving instructions are another integral part of your recipe. The weather can play spoilsport ruining your dish. Specify how the food should be stored and if it is to be refrigerated until ready to serve.

Have some more questions about recipe writing? Share them with us!

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