F I V E   M O R S E L S   O F   L O V E 
art direction & graphic design
of a South Indian cookbook 


Five Morsels of Love is a collection of over 100 heirloom recipes based on G Nirmala Reddy’s 1974 South Indian cookbook Vanita Vanṭakālu. In Five Morsels of Love, Nirmala Reddy’s granddaughter Archana captures a cross-section of their family recipes along with anecdotal stories and narrative introducing the reader to the flavors of the South Indian state Andhra Pradesh. The cookbook has detailed, well-curated and tested recipes ranging from wholesome vegetarian curries to spicy chicken curries to fiery spice powders to flavorful biryanis to celebratory sweets and all day snacks. With stunning photographs, great design and soulful writing there is so much to love about this book!

I worked on the graphic design and art direction of the book from Jan 2016 till the project completion in April 2016. 
As this is a translation of a book more than 40 years old into a modern text I wanted the design to be contemporary without losing sight of the traditional heritage it is based on.

One of the very first things I did for the project was design the logo for the book. I wanted the logo to represent the book at several levels. The book is titled Five Morsels of Love as Nirmala Reddy’s five grand children pay a tribute to their grandmother for all the happy childhood recollections around food she cooked for them. I hence designed a pattern with 5 grains of rice (the author now has a tattoo of the five rice grains pattern as well!). 

I chose to design a classic cloth bound cover for the book. The color of the cloth bound cover is inspired by turmeric which is integral to South Indian cooking and is also considered auspicious all over India. The title and end papers are a shade of dark green representing the color of the authors' grandmother’s  glass bangles.  The ribbon is vermillion red, another color considered auspicious in Indian culture and it beautifully contrasts the turmeric cloth bound cover.

I chose a minimal and balanced design layout for the recipe pages to complement the colorful and stunning food photographs. 
The book is divided into 6 sections - vegetables, meat & fish, rice, pickles and spice powders, all day snacks and sweets. I designed a double spread section separator for the beginning of each section with colors and patterns pertinent to the recipes in that section. Every hand drawn pattern represents the number five. 

The font used for the title and main headings is Arkhip (Fontfabric). Garamond was used for all other text. 

This was a very interesting project personally for me as I had to keep the contemporary vs traditional balance alive through every design element and also learn about a culture that was completely new to me. I worked with the author remotely as she was based in Bangalore for most part of the work. I did travel to India for the final two weeks to put everything together and be at the printers to see the work come alive. It was an amazing, life changing journey in South India.

Author – Archana Pidathala
Photography – Chinmayie Bhat
Editing – Sonya Balasubramanyam
Graphic Design, Art Direction – Eszter Laki
Print – Pragati, Hyderabad

W   fivemorselsoflove.com

If you would like to own your copy, please click here


© photography by Balázs Glódi & Archana Pidathala