Market for cookbooks booms in India

April 20th, 2008 - 1:13 pm ICT by admin  

(Feature)
By Madhusree Chatterjee
New Delhi, April 20 (IANS) The Indian palate generates good business. With kitchens becoming hi-tech in cities and the television beaming more than a dozen cookery capsules every week, the market for cookbooks is booming. “The market for cookbooks has grown by at least 40 percent and is moving very fast because people are constantly looking for fast food, easy recipes that they can rustle up at home in their designer kitchens. People are also buying cook books for their coffee table collections,” Rajiv Sharma, marketing in-charge of Roli Books, told IANS.

Roli Books has four new cookbooks in the pipeline. These include “Indian Fast Food” and “Awadhi Kitchen” by Pushpesh Pant, “The Emperor’s Table: The Art of Mughal Cuisine” and “Pure and Simple Vegetarian Cookbook” by Vidhu Mittal.

From books on fast food, fun food and spiritual soul food to the great Indian traveller’s food chronicles, regional recipes and delights from the Awadhi and Mughal kitchens, the market is flooded.

“We have at least six books in the pipeline. One of them is Micheal Swamy’s ‘Enduring Flavours’, which explores traditional Indian recipes,” Kapish G. Mehra, publisher of Rupa, told IANS.

Rupa has “close to 50 cookbooks” in its kitty.

“Indians are finally venturing into different kinds of cuisines with the arrival of different flavours from across the globe brought by the star hotels and stand alones eateries. People are now also seriously interested in learning how to cook because the kitchen looks and feels a lot better than before,” Mehra said.

Such is the demand for cookery books in India that Roli Books last year printed 9,000 extra copies of food writer and docu-filmmaker Pushpesh Pant’s “Food Path”, a chronicle of culinary traditions along the historic Grand Trunk Road from Kabul to Kolkata.

The profile of the buyers has also changed.

“Earlier, only women purchased cookbooks. But now men and women of all age groups - from children, young adults, singletons, parents and grandparents - are making a beeline for the latest cookbooks in the market,” Mehra said.

Penguin Books India is still high on the success of award-winning writer Chitrita Banerjee’s “Eating India”, published in January. The book, which has been widely acclaimed, looks at the cross-cultural influences in traditional cuisine. “It is doing very well,” said Smriti Khanna of Penguin Book India.

Four other cookbooks published by Penguin India that are still in demand include “Rude Food” by Vir Sanghvi, “Feast of Love” and “Parsi Food and Customs” by Bhicoo Manekshaw and “Curries” by David Thompson that has been published by Dorling-Kindersley and distributed by Penguin.

According to Rajiv Sharma of Roli Books, pricing also plays an important part. Most of the cookbooks available in the market are affordable because they have special Indian price tags.

Roli has a set of 25 books from different kitchens across India known as the chef series, priced at Rs.95 each - and a hamper of four fun cookbooks for the harried new age mother and urban yuppie for Rs.195 each. Sanghvi’s “Rude Food” is priced at Rs.375 while Banerjee’s “Eating India” costs Rs.350.

Author Manish Gujral, whose “Moti Mahal Cookbook” listing the spicy traditional north Indian recipes from one of the capital’s oldest eateries, was voted the best Indian cookbook in London at the annual Curry Night last October, says cookbooks of the future will have to be innovative and simple.

“There are so many books on Indian cuisine floating in the market that the recipes tend to become repetitive. If you go through the recipe for ‘dum aloo’ in one book, you know how to make it with your little variations. But all books list recipes of ‘dum aloo’,” Gujral told IANS.

The needs have changed, said Gujral.

“Easy-to-do tasty, healthy and interactive recipes that do not take time are the order of the day,” said the author, who is currently working on the second part of the “Moti Mahal Cookbook”.

Agrees author Pushpesh Pant. “Modern cookbooks are written much better. The recipes are so user-friendly, the cookbooks available in the markets now are more like infotainment and travel books. The new generation of cookbooks will have to have good photographs and tell great stories. Moreover, they have to be affordable,” Pant, who has also authored two religious cookbooks, said.

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