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It was Vikram, I think, who correctly described Indian cooking as hard to capture as appealing in photography - brown glop, yellow glop, green glop.

It's very difficult to take photos that really grab the eye with cooked Indian food. The ingredients, on the other hand, are beautiful and can be used to good dramatic effect. So, the better attempts at Indian food photography (in my opinion) have cretively paired the finished products with the ingredients and sometimes with striking Indian fabrics in the background.

The best Indian cookbook visuals that I've seen are in the 'Bombay Brasserie cookbook', a volume put out by that now-storied London restaurant. The whole book has extremely high production values, the photos are all very good (and use ingredients just as I describe above).

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monica,

most books that have a lot of good pictures usually give credit to to the photographer somewhere in the book. While the brown, green and yellow blobs are to some extent true there are numerous books that have captured Indian food quite favourably. 50 great curries is one and then there are books like Wazwan, Traditional Kashmiri Cuisine, by Roli Books where they have utilized imaginative serving dishes and backgrounds to actually make these blobs look pretty good.

bhasin

Bombay Curry Company

3110 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305. 703. 836-6363

Delhi Club

Arlington, Virginia

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Royal Indian Recipes by the Master Chefs of The Ashok Group of Hotels has nice photos too.

There are blobs of food in them as well, but the main thing is having the chunks of solid food in the sauce cut into identical shapes. Or if it's a piled blob of something, then to have fresh garnish in contrasting colors, and also sliced or slivered attractively, sometimes to create symmetrical circular patterns. Or to fan out the identical food chunks and ladle the sauce over the lower half of the fan while leaving the upper half exposed, and so on. Plus messing with cream and yogurt to swirl shapes into the middle of bowls of soup.

The photographer is Deepak Budhraja.

Pat, hasn't attemped to cook anything out of this book yet

"I... like... FOOD!" -Red Valkyrie, Gauntlet Legends-

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My Williams-Sonoma Savoring India cookbook is exquisite. The recipe photography was done by Andre Martin. Alas, I can't prove it with a link, but trust me, it's as tasteful as everything Williams-Sonoma produces. You can practically smell the food.

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My Williams-Sonoma Savoring India cookbook is exquisite. The recipe photography was done by Andre Martin. Alas, I can't prove it with a link, but trust me, it's as tasteful as everything Williams-Sonoma produces. You can practically smell the food.

Yes, I have this and like it very much. I think the photos are fantastic

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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It's very difficult to take photos that really grab the eye with cooked Indian food. The ingredients, on the other hand, are beautiful and can be used to good dramatic effect. So, the better attempts at Indian food photography (in my opinion) have cretively paired the finished products with the ingredients and sometimes with striking Indian fabrics in the background.

It was actually Karen Anand who gave me the brown glop, yellow glop, green glop quote. I've seen tons of Indian food photography, from lots of really terrible ones, some OK shots and a very very few good examples. The ones I liked best - and admittedly this might reflect a personal taste for minimalistic presentation - are the ones that, as bhelpuri says, focus on the ingredients, though I can do without the exotic India effect of traditional textiles in the background.

The books I've really liked here have tended to be British ones. Das Sreedharan's book on Malayali cooking has a beautiful, spare layout and exquisitely styled close-ups of the food against plain white backdrops. You saw the ingredients, you saw what the dish consisted of and what the final product looked like, all really plain and beautiful - in fact almost too much so, I've never seen Malayali food look like this after years of eating it.

Sunil Vijaykar's 30-Minute Indian also had really good photos, as one might expect since Vijaykar was pretty much India's first really professional food stylist before he moved to London. This takes the close-up of ingredients approach - part of the style for that whole 30-Minute series - and the results were very good.

There are blobs of food in them as well, but the main thing is having the chunks of solid food in the sauce cut into identical shapes. Or if it's a piled blob of something, then to have fresh garnish in contrasting colors, and also sliced or slivered attractively, sometimes to create symmetrical circular patterns. Or to fan out the identical food chunks and ladle the sauce over the lower half of the fan while leaving the upper half exposed, and so on. Plus messing with cream and yogurt to swirl shapes into the middle of bowls of soup.

I loathe this approach. Why don't I think its not a coincidence that you haven't attempted to cook from this book yet?

Vikram

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just a thought, dont u think a food stylistst can make a difference

Edited by M65 (log)

"Burgundy makes you think of silly things, Bordeaux

makes you talk about them, and Champagne makes you do them." Brillat-Savarin

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I loathe this approach. Why don't I think its not a coincidence that you haven't attempted to cook from this book yet?

Yeah how true now that you mention it!

While the pictures were pretty, I'd probably never do it at home. Also, one thing I kept thinking was how little sauce there was. That's one reason why the blobs of Indian food never bothered me... sauce was a promise of good things to sop up with bread and rice! Shouldn't that be appetizing to everyone? :wub:

The recipes themselves seem tasty, I'll probably try making something at some point, just without the fancy knife work. I really don't need every piece of paneer in a perfect 3 petal flower shape! (re: The Ashok Group's Paneer Akbari) :laugh:

Er, unless those of you in the know about the hotel industry think their food isn't worth the effort. :unsure:

Pat

Edited by Sleepy_Dragon (log)

"I... like... FOOD!" -Red Valkyrie, Gauntlet Legends-

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I've just seen some excellent photography of Indian food in an interesting cookbook called 'Hiltl. Virtuoso Vegetarian' that a colleague got back from a trip to Switzerland. The book is a collection of recipes from the Hiltl restaurant in Zurich which has recently celebrated its centenary as the oldest vegetarian restaurant in Switzerland.

Its founder, Ambrosius Hiltl, was converted to the virtues of a vegetarian diet when it cured him of the effects of rheumatoid arthritis and he started the restaurant which his family has continued. Not surprisingly the restaurant was popular with Indian visitors to Zurich and interacting with them made the owners interested in Indian food. Hiltl's daughter-in-law was a delegate to a World Vegetarian Congress that was held in India in 1951, and she returned determined to add Indian dishes to the menu.

As can be imagined, this was hardly easy in Fifties Switzerland when getting spices was next to impossible. The book says Indian friends helped them get these and now I'm wondering if my grandparents could have been among them, since my grandfather was with the Indian Foreign Service in Geneva in the Fifties (except that as good Malayalis they loved their fish too much to be true vegetarians).

The restaurant obviously solved its problem somehow since Indian dishes have been part of the menu since then and several recipes are given that sound a little odd, especially when their descriptions are given, but they seem sound enough: Kacharis ("turnovers with a spicy filling"), Ravaya, Dushin Rothli ("spicy courgette cakes"), Coriander Pilaff, Himalayan Mushrooms, Bengali Vegetables, White Curry .

But the book is very well produced, simple and with big pictures that provide close-ups of the food. They have focused on the ingredients and also on the food being prepared - but usually the cook's hands aren't show. Its like in mid-prep, in a skillet, veggies cooking and the chef has vanished. The advantage is that it allows close-ups, is visually interesting and not static and gives some idea of the final form of the dish, before its settled into glop mode.

Vikram

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DAKSHIN, by Chandra Padmanabhan is the book which impressed me most with the photographs of the food. This book makes me DROOL every time I open it up. Are we allowed to take pictures of pictures? Maybe not...but if it would be ok I would love to take a pic of one of my favourite pictures in the book, of stuffed eggplants. That usually doesn't look so great in person(or in eggplant!) but this picture kills me every time I see it, and I did make the recipe and tried to make it look like that. Well, it didn't but it was not TOO far off..

I prefer pictures of recipes which are not too far from what they will really look like. Fancy swirls of sauces which look like Wolfgang Puck or Alice Waters or whoever is " in " this year's creations..are fine but what I really want is to know how in the heck the thing is SUPPOSED to look when I cook it...so I will know if I did it right or not. I am just a lady in her home kitchen trying to make stuff that tastes good!

By the way, the photos in DAKSHIN are by Jon Bader, and the stylist is Georgina Dolling. The actual vessels in which these glorious foods are displayed are beautiful and there are fabrics and things in the background which also enhance the photos. The food itself is naturally FANTASTIC AND DELIRIOUSLY MOUTHWATERING , being South Indian, by it's very nature.....so who needs a lot of fancy stuff to spruce up something which is inherently DIVINE in the first place?

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DAKSHIN, by Chandra Padmanabhan is the book which impressed me most with the photographs of the food.

I have this book, and I have to say that I am impressed by the photos as well. Not to mention the quality of the recipes presented. I had never cooked south-indian food before in my life, and it was still easy for me to follow along with the recipes presented in this book and come up with fairly decent renderings. I especially love her menu suggestions.

You can peek at some photos here:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/9625935274/ref=sib_rdr_ex

[Edit: correct minor typo]

Edited by bong (log)
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is this book related to the restaurant?

and is it an indian publication?

No, nothing to do with the restaurant. In fact its by the wife of the publisher, who runs a Madras based distribution and publishing business, Affiliated East-West. But it might have been reprinted by someone else - the version on Amazon doesn't look like the original which came out years back.

Vikram

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I would personally not look exclusively at Indian food photographs in searching for a photographer for an Indian cookbook. Rather, I'd try to find a photographer whose work seems interesting, diverse, and flexible regardless of cuisine.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I would personally not look exclusively at Indian food photographs in searching for a photographer for an Indian cookbook. Rather, I'd try to find a photographer whose work seems interesting, diverse, and flexible regardless of cuisine.

I agree with you, frankly I'd take any photographer who can use lighting to a great advantage and take a fine exposure.

The food stylist is another matter.

I fry by the heat of my pans. ~ Suresh Hinduja

http://www.gourmetindia.com

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I would personally not look exclusively at Indian food photographs in searching for a photographer for an Indian cookbook. Rather, I'd try to find a photographer whose work seems interesting, diverse, and flexible regardless of cuisine.

I agree with you, frankly I'd take any photographer who can use lighting to a great advantage and take a fine exposure.

The food stylist is another matter.

I agree -- I am looking for a someone with experience in Indian food not necessarily an Indian photographer.

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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I agree -- I am looking for a someone with experience in Indian food not necessarily an Indian photographer.

You want it done in US or in India. If it's in India, I can get it done for you at a very reasonable price.

Now that is an offer I will have to think about.. can you email me samples of this persons work.. would they be willing to fly up here (paid ofcourse)?? so many questions ................

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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He would. But that will work out quite expensive as he would miss out on his regular assignments. It will be viable only if you came here.

Nope, three elements have to come together-Author, Stylist and the Photographer.

author and stylist are here :laugh::laugh:

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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There are a number of good food photographers in India. I have during my advertising career handled two food clients and have worked with number of photographers who specialise in food photography and worked on several food photography projects. But the best known photographers will be very expensive for a normal book project . ( I have been away from India for six years now and not in touch with them but I can try and locate some of them or Vikram should be able to help you.)

Some of the best food photographs, I have seen were for Maurya hotels. I think Ian Perera had done that photography.

One of the advantage you will have working with someone with experience in Indian food photography is that there are several tricks, props, ingredients, methods they use to make food apealing which they have perfected over time.

I also worked with a British photography team shooting Indian food for a multinational client and it took them several days to get some of these things right till we got them a Indian food stylist after they were sufficiently worn out and agreed to it. So the food stylist is very critical if you use any photographer.

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Easyguru - budget is not a huge issue right now.. finding the right person

"One of the advantage you will have working with someone with experience in Indian food photography is that there are several tricks, props, ingredients, methods they use to make food apealing which they have perfected over time"..

is exactly why I was considering someone with from India or here with experience in the cuisine.

If you have names you can PM me great... I will take it from there!

thanks again

(PS - I wish you were posting more.. love reading your stuff)

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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