Two Desis and the Other One- Anjali Mani

Well, there has been quite a shift in the focus of our project for this semester. JetSet has disbanded, but there is a lot more ahead. Isha and I decided that we wanted to work together on the next project, so we began to brainstorm. We debated ideas from a workout plan, a college application organizer, a way to clean up glitter (the herpes of the art world), or a mass device charger. We both happen to be Indian, so we began to explore options we have both faced in India such as: a scanner to eat street food safely, a sealant to keep bad jewelry from causing infections, a special clothing design that keeps the wearer cool, redesign a mosquito net. None of these options seemed totally practical, but then we both realized that we’re interested in nutrition, vegetarianism, and Indian cooking, we created our plan.

This is a comparison of traditional South Indian food and classic Gujarati  food.
This is a comparison of traditional South Indian food and classic Gujarati food.

I am most familiar with South Indian cuisine which features lots of rice, fish, coconut and spices like cardamom. Isha has more experience with Gudjrati, primarily vegetarian food that is spicy, sweet and salty at the same time. With our varied backgrounds, we decided to make a vegetarian, Indian cookbook with a focus on the composition of regional meals and the science behind their health benefits. And we were all set to find recipes and subject our families and friends to the results when we added someone else to our team: Oceane.

Oceane is not Indian, can’t really cook and has spice tolerance so low that cracked pepper causes problems, so she didn’t exactly seem like the logical addition to our team. But then we realized that our cookbook is going to be for people with little to no experience with Indian cooking, varied skill levels in the kitchen and with different tastes, and we would have to learn to cater to so many different people. Given all of this information, Oceane then seemed like an excellent choice with the mentality “If Oceane can do it, anyone can!” (Slogan pending approval).

Indian Food Made Easy: If Oceane Can Do It, So Can You!
Indian Food Made Easy: If Oceane Can Do It, So Can You!

So now we are moving forward with our new idea. Last class we worked through most of the planning phase, where we made a lovely and organized calendar with tasks per day, and fleshed out the idea of our cookbook. We’re still thinking about what we want to include in the final version so please feel free to voice your opinion in the comments!

  • Recipe organized by regions of India
  • Short historical feature on each region or on specific dishes
  • Blurb on health benefits of different ingredients in the glossary
  • Sections for “Oceane’s Opinion and Feedback”
  • Space for Anjali and Isha’s personal connections to certain dishes
  • Background which explains why different ingredients work together to create a balanced meal
  • How recipes can be adapted to a western kitchen with more common substitutes

I am really excited to begin this new chapter (get it, it’s a book joke) to explore something that I am personally interested in and create something educational and hopefully, delicious.

4 thoughts on “Two Desis and the Other One- Anjali Mani

Add yours

  1. I really like this idea and I feel that you guys have a good mix of people and flavor (food joke that is not so funny in retrospect), to pull this off. However, one suggestion. When I look through cook books, I notice that they only give pictures of some of the dishes, when it’s useful (in my view) to have an idea of all of them. Try to add as many pictures as possible, not just of the final meal, but any techniques that need to be mastered and certain foods that are absolutely required for the dish. Personally, I’ve never tried Indian food, and I appreciate the fact that you have a person in my same situation (Oceane) giving feedback on the food.

    Another thing.This is just an idea, evolve it how you will, but instead of this book being just a cookbook, you could expand it include things such as historical landmarks in certain regions of India (based on what dish you’re doing/ where that dish is from) and cool festivals and hang-out spots. I only suggested this because of your idea to include your own personal experience in your cookbook. It would be nice if you could give your readers a chance to have a taste of India (again, a food joke that is altogether natural to place here, yet not very funny).

    Anyway, your project seems really interesting and I hope all goes well for you.

    -R. Howard

  2. I absolutely love this idea and I’m looking forward to see how it turns out! I think connecting your personal experiences to the dishes in the recipe book would be a great touch, and probably appeal to a larger audience such as other teenagers or young adults, anyone besides the usual grandmothers. I know that in this day and age, there are a lot of cooking blogs and I think one of the many reasons why they’re so popular is because their instructions are written with a easy natural voice, and not with a robot tone. I definitely think that voice is something you should consider while writing your book, as well as vocabulary since one of your focuses are appealing to people with little to no experience. I suggest looking up cooking blogs of people who are making dishes similar to yours and see what factors of it you liked/disliked, maybe even have Oceanne see if she understands the instructions?
    As someone who constantly attempts to cook, and fails nearly 3/4 of the time, I agree with the comment above that you should consider adding as many pictures as you can, especially of certain ingredients that aren’t very common, maybe you should consider adding a glossary for ingredients and cooking terms, maybe you could even add the health benefits in that section?
    Again I think this is such a cool thing to do, good luck with your project!
    -D. Horr

  3. How exciting! I have never really ventured out of my comfort zone to try Indian cuisine…but with your new cookbook I’d definitely want to try out some of these different recipes. I like that your second semester project is really different. I can tell that an Indian cookbook is something you all would be passionate about! Would you add a “nutrition facts” section for each recipe? You’ve mentioned that you want to include health benefits for each meal, maybe a small blurb about the calorie count, fat, sodium, sugar, protein, etc. would be helpful?
    Another suggestion would be to make several cooking videos, especially if there is a particularly hard dish to create. You could even add a QR code to the dishes that have a cooking video link. Ryanne’s idea about including pictures for all the dishes is great! I agree, it’ somewhat annoying when I have no idea how a dish is supposed to turn out just by reading the recipe.
    Best of luck with your cookbook, and let me know when it’s finished…I’d love to try out some of the recipes!

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