Story Behind Cookbook: Recipes from a Diary

by on July 13, 2015

Story behind cookbook: The Bokaria family thrive on surprising each other at any and every occasion. So much so, that it has become a way of life for them. When Indu was approaching her sixtieth birthday, she was undoubtedly expecting a surprise, while they were at their wits end trying to figure out just what to do and how to do it!
vegetarian cookbook launch

In June 2014, I got a call from my friend Pradeep Bokaria. He came to see me about making a cookbook for his bhabhi, Indu Bokaria. I agreed immediately because I am always excited about family recipes. In this case, I was familiar with Induji’s culinary skills. I also knew Pradeep well enough to know he will make the entire process full of fun and cheer.


I first met Induji almost two decades ago at a club where she was demonstrating how to make different varieties of Sandesh. The memory of her passion and skill seemed to have stayed fresh in my memory.
Indian sweets Demonstration of sandesh


When Pradeep told me that this was to be a surprise for Induji, I shook my head. How would we write the recipes without her guidance? He responded saying that he would bring her recipe diary which she had carefully maintained over many years. I continued to have many reservations. What if she had tweaked some recipes over the years without updating them in her diary? What if she had stopped liking the taste of certain dishes? It was also very likely that she had her set of favourite recipes. How were we to know all this without interacting with her?


Pradeep was determined to keep the surprise. He told me that it was Indu’s daughter Vimki Giria who had come up with the idea that would make her mother truly happy. The family agreed whole heartedly that a cookbook full of Indu’s cherished recipes would hit the right note. Now that they had an amazing idea, they wanted to make it even more special by making it a surprise. The challenge was set – the family had to find a way to get Indu to participate and share her recipes without her knowing they would be turned into a book.


The family also knew that Indu was extremely possessive about her diary. If they took it, she would immediately know and “boil” over!


So the family conspired further, and told Indu that they would create a website for her recipes. She agreed to part with the recipes, albeit half-heartedly, for she had always dreamt of publishing a cookbook of her recipes. She did not have much interest in websites and blogs.


Under the guise of creating the website, I met Indu for our initial chat over hot tea and snacks – Indu only discovered much later that this interview became the foreword and laid the foundation for the tone of the book. I met her many times over the next month and was always amazed and delighted at her excitement with recipes and food related conversations. Her mind was constantly ticking with new ideas.


I was also astonished at how her husband Prakashji, daughters Varsha and Vimki, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nephews and nieces were roped in and all tip-toed in hushed silence, lending a hand without letting Indu know what was really cooking!


As luck would have it, I immediately found a team of editors for the recipes and their descriptions, and friends who agreed to test the recipes. Vimki took over the book designing and layout. Sanjeeta KK agreed to photograph the recipes. As always, my brother, Prabodh Jain, offered his support and inspiration at every stage of the project.
vegetarian Recipes from a Diary


More than ten dishes were rustled up each day by the Bokaria women; to taste, select and photograph. Sanjeeta photographed the mouth-watering dishes, adding character to the book. The team worked diligently and finally on Indu’s birthday at a family holiday in Yelagiri, she unveiled her “website” only to discover that it was a full-fledged cookbook!


I will never forget the surprise and delight in Induji’s voice when she called me from Yelagiri. It simply made every effort worthwhile.
author Pratibha Jain & foodie Indu Bokaria


Now available to you, seasoned liberally with love, flavoured with passion, tempered with a generous helping of experience, Indu Bokaria’s cookbook “Recipes from a Diary” is peppered with more than just recipes. For me, it is all about family bonding, family favourites and family secrets; a fairytale story behind cookbook.

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