So You Want to Write a Cookbook? Careful What You Wish For!

August 26, 2013

Messy is good. In fact, it’s great. That was the good news from my meeting this morning with my publisher. Based out of Evanston, Illinois, he took a chance on my first book and now we’re onto number three together. Today’s coffee was just the push I needed to not only get re-motivated with my recipe testing, but to get kicking with this blog.

“Anupy, you’re a perfectionist.” In some books that would be an asset. In my case, it’s a deterrent. My desire to produce the perfect blog post is preventing me from showing all of you the actual process of writing a book – a far-from-perfect process that is in fact downright messy. Especially when you’re talking cookbooks.

Add to that life. Case in point, our coffee was cut short because of my sick 8-year-old who decided after getting dressed for school that she was indeed “coming down with something”. A quick shuffle meant leaving her home with the hubbie, taking the older one to school and figuring out a way to scramble back for the other half to make his 11:30 lunch. See? Messy.

The first topic of discussion was my deadline. We were aiming for a Spring 2014 release, but after trying my best to stay on target, and realizing I just don’t want to risk a breakdown this time around, I asked if we could push that release to October 2014 – meaning that I have till Jan. 1 to finish the manuscript and shooting the pictures. This gives me more time to test each recipe. More time to post on this blog. And, more time to have all of you test the recipes I post and get back to me with your feedback.

We’re talking real-time blogging as I test each and every recipe…giving all of you a window into the world of actually writing a cookbook. And a window into my world of doing it as a mom with two young girls.

The topic of the new book is restaurant-Indian. All the recipes you’ll find on an Indian restaurant menu in America, you’ll find in my next book. They’ll be authentic recipes that include all the fat and cream, BUT at the end you’ll find ways to not only lighten them up, but even ways to Vegan-ize them. Being Indian food, obviously many recipes are already plant-strong, but even with the Chicken Curry and Lamb Korma, I’ll give you just-as-amazing tasting alternatives minus the meat and dairy. As I tell everyone, that’s how I cook for myself. My husband is the carnivore in the house and so he’s the one that gets to test all the meat-based dishes as do our friends.

But, don’t expect this to be an easy process. I am going to walk you through the trials and tribulations of writing a cookbook. Many of you want to do it, but know that it’s often a hellish process. Writing itself is tough to do: getting your ass into a chair and not leaving until you have words (sensible – awe-inspiring – moving words) on a page. The other part that makes it tough here is that we’re talking cooking. It’s not just about writing – but about testing recipes that don’t always go as planned. It’s about running out and feeding the time-suck that is grocery shopping. It’s having a sick kid on your hands already and finding that your day’s productivity is shattered. And it’s days when you just break it all down and all you have is a feeling of complete and utter failure. Helplessness.

Yesterday was one of those days. After running around for a meeting at the girls’ school and other errands I got to come home to my husband. Normally, that would be great. But, in my world where the only quiet time I get working from home is when my hubbie travels and the kids are out of the house, having him home throws a wrench into everything. So, at 2 p.m, an hour before I have to stop everything and head out the door for kiddie pick up, he gets a call…puts its on speaker phone, and proceeds to yell into the phone for 45 minutes of intense discussions.

Seriously? I wanted to scream. Well – truth-be-told I was screaming on the inside. If you’re even a little creative you get what I mean. I can’t write through all the noise. I should be able to. But, instead, I felt a little tension start from the base of my neck and crawl to the top of my forehead. And I cried. I did. He got off the phone and I just cried.

“Do you get how annoying you are? Do you get that I can’t get anything done with you screaming into the phone? And do you get that I have so much to do? Do you get this process of writing? And do you get that you don’t get any of it?”

His response? “Well. Okay. Then I’ll just travel.”


Well. We finally worked it out. He agreed to never put anyone on speaker again when working in the house – AND … (Did I mention that I have an 8-year-old with the sniffles hanging over my right shoulder right now reading every word out loud?) AND…he agreed that I do need some space to finish my work. At least that’s a start.

This week’s food adventure? To tackle Gobi Mussallam (Mussallam means whole). In this recipe the whole cauliflower is cooked intact, smothered in a curried sauce, and then baked whole. It’s served this ways as well and is an amazingly beautiful treat for guests when entertaining – but so simple to actually make.

I also am thinking of perfecting my spinach pakoras. Fried spinach fritters mixed with spiced chickpea flour and friend. The recent cold Chicago days are making me hungry for a hot plate of these delicious fritters with a side of Tamarind Chutney.

It’s all coming folks.

And now you know.

Life is messy over here! But shhhhhhhhh…don’t tell anyone. That’s OUR little secret!

Thanks for visiting. If you are on Facebook, please please help me hit my target of 20,000 Likes on my Facebook Fan page, Indian As Apple Pie. I post tons of fun pictures and tips over there. This site is reserved for recipes and the upcoming book!

Anupy Singla
Anupy Singla


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