Bringing a family’s culinary legacy to life through the Andhra cookbook

Melodies from my kitchen title
Open spread of the book's seasoning page.

Melodies from my kitchen is a collection of vegetarian Andhra recipes by Komala Sista Rao. These recipes carry with them the creativity, labour and love of generations of women in the author’s family, finely crafted and perfected over the years.

Spine of the book with the title text, Melodies from my kitchen, Andhra vegetarian home cooking.

What’s Cookin’?

What will you do, when your mother is a sublime cook and she always wanted to make a collection of the heirloom recipes? You’ll make it happen and gift it for her birthday, of course. Aarti Rao-Shetty, Narasimha Rao and their siblings had the same idea and asked me if I would help them put this book together. This is how we did it.

Pen sketches of the page layout.

First Taste

I started by familiarising myself with the recipes, figuring out a rough overall structure for the book and sketching possible layout directions. Arati and Narasimha had most of the recipes ready and they were working on getting the remaining recipes ready.

Title section of the Spicy Yoghurt Stew recipe page.

Popcorn on a Skillet

From the full recipe list, around 30 were picked for the shoot. We planned the shoot for 4 days, with an extra day as backup. We started around 9 in the morning, with photography equipments and cooking preparations setup in the same space, shooting till 10–11 in the night and having the same food once the shoot was done.

Ingredients section of the Spicy Yoghurt Stew recipe page.
Collage of a vegetable category spread and a recipe spread pages.

Cook to Perfection

After a quick round of shot selection and feedback, I started editing the photos and developing the recipe page layouts. Test prints were made for few recipe pages before continuing with the rest of the book. Through out the design process, the layout and visual elements underwent reviews and tweaks till we reached the final version of the book.

  • Variation with boiled bitter gourd
  • Variation with green banana
  • Variation with split green gram
  • Variation with split red gram
  • Variation with bitter gourd
  • Variation with patoli
  • Variation with raw tamarind
  • Variation with spinach
  • A recipe page featuring variation titles, photo.
  • Contents page spread.
  • Seasoning page spread.
  • Organisation page spread.
  • Eggplant page spread.
  • Ok, this thing brought tears to my eyes… (not the chillis!). Ten years waiting to see this.

  • Green Banana page spread.
  • Meal page spread.
  • Glossary page spread.
  • Eggplant Chutneys page spread.

Out of the frying pan, into the world

The final version of the book was printed on time for the author’s birthday. A few extra copies were printed for the family. After a long search, the author’s family have partnered with Jaico Publishing House and the book is out now. It is now known as The Andhra Cookbook, and available through major retail and online shops.

  • Closeup of the tomato chutney recipe page spread.
  • Closeup of the green banana with split green gram and coconut recipe page spread.
  • Closeup of the green beans with coconut recipe page spread.
  • Closeup of the broad beans and eggplant recipe page spread.
    Broad Beans and Eggplant page spread.
  • Closeup of the author’s signature on the foreword page spread.
    Foreword page spread.
  • 172 Pages
  • 65 Recipes
  • 43 Food Photos
Front cover of the book.

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