[App Fridays] Shake your phone and cook up a storm with Recipe BookRashi Varshney
Cooked up by three young techies to solve their archetypal ‘kitchen conundrums’, Recipe Book is here to make cooking easy with hundreds of local and global recipes.
Hunger pangs can have a ripple effect on people - some turn into Masterchefs, some get stressed, while others stay hungry and foolish (literally). Some resign to cooking instant noodles, while others ponder over ‘what to eat’. There are some who just accept whatever their dabbawallas and cooks have made for them and some stare at the ingredients lying in their kitchens, wondering how it can transform into a meal.
Faced with such ‘kitchen conundrums’, three young techies created Recipe Book in 2015, aimed at making cooking easy with hundreds of recipes, local or global. Incubated at the NASSCOM Warehouse in Kochi, Recipe Book is a recipe discovery app that curates recipes across cuisines like Indian, Korean, Italian, Mexican, Thai, Malaysian, Arabian and German.
While recipe apps have been around for a while, The app was listed on Google’s “Editor’s Choice” apps for its search facility, which lets you find Indian and global recipes and save them for offline and online use. It also lets users follow international chefs, food critics and food blogs via curated feeds using “Follow your interests” feature.
At present, it has garnered a million-plus Android downloads and is rated 4.2 out of 5. Most recently, Recipe Book was among the top five Indian apps that made it to Google Play Store’s ‘Best of 2018’ list.
Setting up the kitchen
Let’s dive right in. The first thing you notice is that this is one of the few apps you can start using without having to sign up. Of course, if you want to use all of its features, you will need to sign up. The app allows you to use a Google or Facebook account for this.
There are five tabs on the app - Feeds, Explore, Upload, Notifications and Profile. There is a menu at the top left with Contests, Shopping List, Explore Channels and Settings. The app opens on the Explore Tab with a ‘Search’ bar at the top. The Explore tab holds all the recipes, categorising them under Editor’s Choice with categories (some seasonal, some not) like Winter Special, Best of Tricolour Recipes, Keto, Pasta, Indian Recipes and even Cocktails.
The recipe categorisation is very helpful as the app even has niche lists like Kerala Recipes, Diabetes Friendly Recipes, Kids Recipes and so on. The app lets users add ingredients they don’t have to their shopping lists directly from each recipe so you know exactly what is missing for you to ace that perfect dish.
How the app uses Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Two different AI-driven search options at the top of the Explore tab are a nice touch: search by ingredients and search with image.
Search by ingredients, named Shake ‘N’ Make, is a boon when you have only a few things at hand or are in the mood for something in particular but aren’t sure how to cook it up. It lets you select ingredients and condiments you have and shake your phone to get a list of recipes based on them.
I selected carrots, onions and garlic and shook the phone, a long list of recipes did come up. But it didn’t work as well as expected. Despite choosing only vegetables, the app listed several non-vegetarian recipes as well. This was despite selecting the Veg option.
Now for the ‘Snap n Cook’. This allows you to click a picture or choose one from your phone’s gallery of the ingredients you have at hand and Recipe Book will identify them through image recognition and suggest recipes. When I tried, the feature did not recognise peas and egg, but it recognised ginger in a second.
Social media for recipes
Recipe Book is interactive in that it allows users to upvote and share recipes through various social media platforms, leave comments and save your favourites.
You can also upload your own recipes for regular contests announced on the app. For instance, the ongoing contest is on ‘Let’s Preserve’, which invites users to share how they preserve food items. So far, it has 150 entries including carrot pickle, amla candy, dried rice papad, etc.
You can even start your very own channel to share recipes with other users.
Everyone belongs in the kitchen
Overall the app interface is simple and easy-to-navigate with a very clean look. It is also useful for users who want to follow a specific diet, or want to up their cooking game, or simply want to learn how to cook.
Recipe Book is also available in Hindi, a feature that makes it more user-friendly in large parts of India.
So, if you want someone other than your family and friends to help you whip up the perfect three-course meal for that Sunday brunch or rustle up a quick dinner for one - Recipe Book can help you out.