Poems Of The Week 014: Write Your Poem In The Form Of A Recipe

Cooking is an art, and writing poetry is a bit like cooking a meal. The measurement of your ingredients can be perfect, and the process of cooking can be to the book, but sometimes you cannot help but drop in a little extra sugar, take away a little salt, add in an ingredient from your grandma’s recipe to call your dish your own, the one that you will love more than anything else, or the one that will fly you back home.

Keeping this in mind, we thought it would be interesting for this week’s prompt to be based on this idea of what makes your recipe yours. That is to say, what is the perspective that you give something. How do you think certain things come into being, how do you look at them, how do you find the source behind them, and as far as this idea of really questioning and navigating one’s way to finding the source is concerned, here’s a special mention to how Shaoni Rakshit dealt with it her poem in these beautiful lines: “are you sad/or is your sadness you / Decide who gave birth to whom. / (There’s only one right answer: the other is a lie / you let simmer from the very beginning.)”

The prompt for the previous week was:

Write your poem in the form of a recipe.

This was also the first prompt after a completely packed month of April with NaPoWriMo, the everyday writing challenge going on where poets created one poem every day for 30 days. We have to say this poets, take a bow for doing it!

Hence, we wanted to keep this one open for the possibility of the poets taking it as being completely charged from NaPoWriMo, or as something where they can have a lot of fun.

Either way, the results were absolutely lovely. We got to read all kinds of recipe-poems, some sad, some extremely haunting, some super fun, and most very beautiful.


By the time I followed in my mother’s footsteps,
Stirred tea leaves have already drenched half lit truths to strangers who spent years squeezing the pulp out of tangerine hopes
Gently sipping comfort from our own ghosts, dripping wet from three cups that brim with minced rumours
while bit of a ginger and a garlic clove cue in the smell of hard toils as old
as my grandfather’s biscuit jar and his simmering patriarchal blessings.

A frictioned pan sits struggling upon all of the little heat, the salt and sweat marinates mother’s dismissed dreams. Ancestral recipe, as I knew it to be. Its unhinged palette leaves a lasting impression on the guests
as they dig into the tender legs of family feuds, skinned to the bones
served fresh on fine China, with knives and forks tearing apart
women who have been bleeding tears through centuries within four walls.

I scream at the table, futile like plastic spoons hitting
the rich mousse, a souvenir of the evening
that left no secrets undisclosed,
But mother’s thinly sliced smiles
Spread over her deep buried happiness;
only a pinch of chaos dilated her pupils
as the washbasin fills up once again.

— Monosija Banerjee


Preparation time: From the edge of sigh to sigh


i) Cement and water
ii) a wistful wind
iii) some coloured stones
iv) the smell of cut grass

How to:

Gather bruised hands,
bruised sounds
find spaces carved to
weed out silences.

Stitch a home out of cupped palms.
Secrets make birdhouses heavier,
so place ruby whispers in hollows.

Find some dreams too-
unpeeled, slightly soft on the inside.
These will flutter out of chirps

In the end,
let it hang on your bone.
in here,
you are never empty.

— Rishitha Shetty

How to not think of the crow’s blue eggs as your mother in three parts

1. Simmer

Watch a trail of nine black-necked cranes across the thinning sky
Wait for them to pass as you utter a small prayer
Then in an act of repeating their migration by which I mean of the soul
Lightly parse the hard stones from a bowl of black gram
And empty them in a bird-shaped pool of water
It is then alright to leave things be till they get soggy enough
To simmer out of meaning

2. Fillet
Stand with toes upturned like elven shoes
As you salt your foot’s thumb,
Depending on how much suffering it can take
Then pour a tumbler of ice-cold water to numb the skin
(You will see the faint maroon of clotted blood gathering like veins)
Feel a pachyderm’s limb fall off

3. Julienne

Pry open the insides of an okra stem
And trace the old feeling of your mother’s fingers holding the knife,
Filling the stem with love that smells of turmeric
Pulp the memory three times to drain it of emotion
Then let your lips whistle as your teeth chew on sunflower seeds
And try not to think of smashing the crow’s blue eggs at your window

— Kunjana Parashar


These are excerpts from some poems or at some places complete poems that deserve a special shout-out. Give them a read:

  1. Adrit Mishra

धैर्य के धीमे आंच पे,
जज़्बात के पतीले को ज़रा सा सेको;
उम्मीद की वो हलकी सी मिठास छिड़क के,
परिश्रम के चमच्च से धीरे धीरे उस मिश्रण को घोलो;

देखो कैसे गुरूर के वो बुलबुले,
भाप बनके हवा में ग़ुम हो रहे हैं,
ख्वाइशों की पत्ती डाली है अभी,
तमाम एहसास, सारे जज़्बे,
अपने ही फ़िराक में,
कभी ऊपर, कभी नीचे,
और पल भर में ओझल,

वक़्त के छन्नी से छानते हुए,
सफलता की इस चुस्की का ज़रा ज़ायका तो लो,
फ़िक्र की तमाम फ़िज़ाओं में,
ज़िन्दगी के इस स्वाद का मज़ा कुछ अलग ही है.

2. Sunil Bhandari

Recipe for Disaster

Ingredients -
1. One brilliant morning
2. One woman — yours
3. Two other women — not yours
4. One-fourth of an unwisely chosen song
5. Two choked sentences
6. One half-hearted apology
7. Half-an-awkward hug
8. One peg of neat whiskey
9. One Sofa
10. Truckload of uncertainty

Preparation time -
From here to eternity

The Preparation -
Start the day with a smile
Think Zen thoughts
Kiss her gently as you go
Call her ‘honeypie’ softly
Hit the walking track full of beans
Look at the jacaranda, heavy on the branches
Pick a snail off the path, else it gets crushed
Say ‘good morning’ to Joie, the terrified snake
Wish back (but don’t stop) when Rizwan wishes
Stop when Deepti wishes
Forget to look up at the balcony of your flat
Finish the walk and join Sandra as she exercises in the community garden
Again forget to look up at the balcony of your flat
Climb 175 stairs to your floor
Enter flat humming ‘Aaj unse pehli mulaqat hogi’
Immediately understand that the pressure cooker is on
See stony face
Stop humming
Say “Hello darling, what’s up?”
Get stony silence.
Try again “Kya hua, priyatama, bahut grim lag rahi ho?”
Get accurately-thrown rocks thrown by stony eyes
Realize that there are clouds in the perfect day
Forget Zen lessons
Suddenly remember Deepti and Sandra
Let penny fall
Realize that the day’s screwed
Fade away
Leave for office early
Order for an extravagant bouquet of tulips & lilies
Stop at Kali Ma Mandir on the way back home
Turn keys to flat ever so gently
Open liquor cabinet, take a straight shot
See cold dinner on table
Read note which says “If you want a hot meal, go to them”
Consider offer
Reject offer
Wait in drawing room for simmering hot to turn to cool
Decide to sleep on sofa
Wait for another morning, another day
Eschew morning walks for a month

Serve yourself all helpings.
Eat, though throat remains constricted.

3. Aishwarya Shrivastav

“You are not here to complete each other sentences or to say things you don’t mean. Maybe later but not now. Converse. Ask and tell. Help each other escape the clutches of locked up passion and if you can’t, then stop and try again but avoid hurting. You both are still strangers and you can safely act like that without pretending to know each other’s skins as if you sleep close each night. As if you know the sound of the steps when they climbed the staircase in their favourite shoes or how they always answer ‘it’s me’ before you open the door and your house glowed like a home.”

4. Rukhsar Sheikh

When I forget who I am
When sometimes I feel myself go sour
I look at my family’s recipe book
I hope in there I find the right combination
Of flour and milk that will make me eatable again
I thumb over the pages of hurried writing
Three generations of women glued to
Paper connected by their spine bound
By aging, once white thread
Each woman offering me
A different dish of myself
Depending on the nourishment I need
Their faces ageing backwards in my memory
To when all of their faces looked just like me
And then, there I am
Half cup great grandma
One cup grandma
Three cups mother
Written on floral stationary glued to lined paper.
Here the end of my life’s recipe.

5. Aarushi Kataria

“This is how you bake fear with
Equatorial heat thickening itself like a quilt in summer around my chest;
This is how you decorate a cake that weighs as much as your mind-
You hold your face like a knife and dive right into the mirror glaze
Reminding yourself that: yes, yes,
You will love yourself, again.”

If you’re wondering what the 2018 100-Poem Challenge is all about, you can read about it here!

See you next week, where we’ll bring the best of week 015 for you!

Disclaimer: The copyright for each poem included in this blog belongs to the poet to which they have been attributed.

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