Recipe and The Ingredients In order to make delicious food good ingredients are no doubt essential. But the right recipe is even more important. Many are obsessed with materials and fail to recognise the fact that recipe is more important than the ingredients. Good cooks swear that you can manage with not so good ingredients provided the recipe is good. But if the recipe is bad even the worlds best ingredients will fail to produce tasty dishes. I have a friend who is sucessfully running a small restaurant which is noted for its tasty idlies, dosas and other South Indian delicacies. One fine morning he casually mentioned that tandoori dishes like Nan, Roti will also be available in his joint. I asked him, "That's great. How could you pull that one? Have you employed any north Indian cooks for making tandoori dishes?" "No. Looks like you do not know much about the hotel trade. It is the south Indian dishes that are difficult to make and require experienced chefs. But these northern items are very easy to make. You make your chapathis a little harder and put some butter over them. You get butter nan. You put cheese and masala items in the oven and you end up with cheese masala. You fry potatoes and tomatoes to-gether and boom! you get another side dish." The North Indian Section had to be closed down within a few months. "I have been offering north Indian dishes at almost half their cost. Still no one buys it. I am surprised." But I would have been surprised only if the North Indian section had thrived. What he did was violating something fundamental like the law of gravitation. At times people mess up and accidentally land in new recipes. But that is besides the point. There is a straight contrast to this incident. A group of South Indians were once staying in Taj at Udaipur. They had been eating north-indian dishes all along and they longed for some south Indian food - atleast the curd rice. They expressed their longing to the Chef. The Chef said that he could give rice and curd separately and they could do whatever they want with that. "Instead of serving them separately why don't you mix them up throw in some cut mangoes or cucumber add a good measure of chillies for taste and serve as 'curd-rice'?" "When one ingredient and another is mixed it becomes a dish. We cannot risk our reputation by serving some random mixture as you like. Taj has a rule. Without an approved recipe we cannot serve a dish." The parleys continued for a while. Finally the exasperated Chef called his counterpart at Chennai Taj and asked for the recipe for making curd rice. Chennai Taj faxed a page and a half recipe which the Udaipur Taj religiously followed to the last letter. Within an hour Curd Rice was served with fresh mango pickles on the side. The customers swore that they had never tasted such a delicious curd rice in their lives.