It’s the Recipe, Stupid!

Happy Independence Day everyone!

Discussing the big deal about blogging, India Uncut in a recent post, outlined what it means to blog. One of our jobs seems to be that of critic and opinion maker.  Self-criticism cannot be left out.

“Blogging keeps bloggers honest. Bloggers need watchdogs as much as the mainstream media does, and the Blogosphere plays this self-regulating role. Every post you write, every errant sentence, is liable to be taken apart by a fellow blogger somewhere—especially if you write about hot-button topics like politics, economics or Himesh Reshammiya. Trust me, the criticism is never-ending, and while much of it can be superfluous, some of it can also be sharp and precise. The result of that is that you cannot slip up, and be sloppy in either your thinking or your writing.”

The food blogging world may seem less serious (unless we are talking food sustainability and its environmental implication) but here too we must fulfill the responsibilities that come with the freedom of speech and expression, a Fundamental Right enshrined in our Constitution.

I wasn’t planning to bring it up. With time you develop a thick skin and wonder if there is any point. There is a general lack of ethics in our society today which manifests itself in all spheres of our lives. It would be naive to expect the blogosphere to be exempt. There have been umpteen cases of plagiarism in the blogosphere and we have all tried to highlight it every now and then. The Net is vast and there is plenty of room to get lost in the labyrinth. On this hope hang many a blogpost.

But it being Independence Day and all…and maybe the defiance of the offender in this latest episode of unethical behaviour tipped the scales.

We are, by now, used to corporate muscle-flexing when the Biggies are confronted with plagiarism accusations from bloggers.  The Times of India newspaper conglomerate probably tops the list when it comes to stealing content off the Web.  We heard about Meeta’s frustrating experience in dealing with them. I didn’t even bring it up when TOI reproduced pictures from my Shrikhand post in their Hyderabad City Edition even though I was alerted that very day by a reader. What hope of redress did I have after Meeta’s ordeal? In absolute contrast stood out the Hindustan Times. They had used a picture of my gorgeous bread 😀 to illustrate Vir Sanghvi’s Rude Food column on the club sandwich a couple of years ago. I wrote (a month later – not knowing who to write to) to Poonam Saxena (Editor, Brunch), and there was an immediate acknowledgment of the lapse and the gravity of it. That she tried to blame it on the new intern who was unavailable at that moment is another matter. I received what I believe was adequate payment for the use of the photograph (40% of the remuneration was contributed towards Srivalli’s maid’s hospital treatment – the irony!  For some reason the donate-for-heart-campaign page on that blog no longer exists?! ). I have also since noticed that fewer and fewer picture in the HT are without credit. The reason HT retained my respect was because they did not deny what was obviously an copyright infringement, apologised for the lapse, and made amends.

Food blogging, even if generally non-serious, is an area that interests many. Especially in India, where most homes still cook at least two fresh meals a day, there is a lot to share with our readers at large. You don’t need to be a scientist to write about food. Though it is not a disqualification, if you are one! I know more about my own food today than I did before I started this blog, all because of the scholars of culture and cuisine (one in particular) amongst us.

If I have acquired additional knowledge from this glorious Web, the Web has also made it easy for me to acknowledge the source of it. I am bound, ethically and professionally (we all qualify as writers – good or otherwise – when we write blogs!), to cite my references, to not plagiarize. For all the freedom that a recipe allows, it is still bound by certain copyright regulations. A list of ingredients may not be protected by copyright but the recipe is.

Punjabi Chhole Google search

The Punjabi Chhole post is the most viewed post on this blog ever since it was featured in the December of 2007, and has notched up a respectable 62,360 hits till date. It comes up at the top on a Google search for Punjabi Chhole. I have known this for some time. A week ago a reader left a comment saying so and TH got curious and Googled. We then checked the other among the top five. The two that followed were sites that had copied the recipe, pictures and all, and republished them on their site. The Sikhchic site while giving credit is still an unauthorised reproduction. At Pallavaram’s blog Bhagya Laxmi has no qualms about copying my entire post and including a link to it at the bottom of my ‘tips’!

Below these was the post of a blogger known to me. As TH clicked and the post opened, the chhole looked uncannily like mine and I began to read the post… All was not well -this was without doubt my recipe, a recipe that I had perfected over years (the scholar friend tells us that it is not that perfect afterall – it is flawed, but very much mine!!).  Yes, it was rewritten. Yes, I cannot claim copyright to a list of ingredients.  But the quantity of the listed ingredients, the method of preparation including tips and shortcuts, those are not exempt; they are mine to claim.  Rewriting a recipe does not make the recipe yours. If you came across a fellow-blogger’s seemingly original recipe that was exactly like yours would you not say something about the amazing coincidence?!! Or would you instead leave an innocuous comment: “Beautiful anita…I came to look at it again…”!? Of course, you did! [Could all of you, please, check your old Hawkins Pressure Cooker cookbooks to verify if my recipe appears in there as claimed by the blogger?]

Content theft is more common than we believe.  It is stupid on part of a writer to take you, the reader, for granted and to think that they will not be found out.   In most cases, though, it is ignorance. Every time I have found my content on another site I have tried to contact the writer, point out the impropriety while adding that they probably did not recognise it as such.  Invariably, the writers have apologised and made the required changes to their posts.

We all make mistakes.  Even famous writers succumb to temptation; the internet makes it easy.  It also makes it easy to be found out!  If you are unsure whether a recipe qualifies as yours refer to these reciperules.  If you were inspired by one give credit to it, and remember an inspired recipe is very different from the original – not a true-copy (inspired by“… means that you used else’s recipe for inspiration, but changed it substantially”David LebowitzRecipe Attribution).  (If you like to be inspired, well, Blog Bites at One Hot Stove is the event for you!)

Let’s not sit back anymore; speak up.  I wouldn’t have, had I not had the friend I have in Manisha (just giving credit where it’s due!).  If we keep quiet then we condone it; there is no neutral ground here.

Blogging has given me new friends.  It has also reunited me with old ones.  I finally met my school-friend Rajamma yesterday.  She found me through this post where I mention how the contents of her tiffin-box have been a big source of inspiration! Yes, she was Googling herself! 😉

This also brings us to some festivities that are overdue: another anniversary has gone by; we have been Partying four years now!  I wasn’t sure if I should announce a party since I have not been very regular with the posts this past year and many of you might have veered away from the Madness.  It is not a Party if old friends won’t come.  Then one of you wrote in to remind me if I wasn’t forgetting something.  That’s all the encouragement I needed!

What do you think we ought to bring to the Party this year? Inspire me! 🙂


Published by Anita

A self professed urban ecologist!

84 thoughts on “It’s the Recipe, Stupid!

  1. Not again! Food bloggers were a peaceful lot for some time now. Anita good you announced the party. We join in and also protest against the lifters.

    And many stay quiet for the sake of peace… Time to stand up and be counted!

  2. [applause applause applause] THAT was inspiring! And that is exactly what independence is all about: standing up for what is right!

    Thanks, Pel, for the support and appreciation!

    1. saw ur post and the one related to that..had this issue come up with another friend’s blog last year but the blogosphere refused to accept that another popular blogger had copied.

      Talk about it now!

  3. You just said everything I wanted to. Not! 😉 Because I couldn’t say it half as well as you do.

    I am so proud of you!

    You are my inspiration!
    Remember you taught me how to ‘link’?! 😀

  4. Anita, you are absolutely right. You can not claim copyright to a list of ingredients but the tips and method are unique to you and you only. There is absolutely no excuse not to credit or write ‘inspired by’. If anything, it adds value to both the posts and passes the cheer around.

    And whenever we come across people who don’t, we must speak up!

  5. I totally agree with you. An innocuous comment should do the job as most of them are ignorant. But no excuses to the media such as daily papers and magazines. Waiting for the mad party to start!

    No excuses for bloggers either, if we want to be taken seriously!

  6. Just want to take this moment to give credit where it is due, that is to you 🙂 I have made many of your recipes at home and every single time it is a hit. I made your Sookhi Gobi Aloo for a party recently and the dish was wiped clean 🙂 Thanks for posting and agree with you, the IP is all yours and you should claim the credit if it is not given to you.

    Thanks, A-kay! It makes me very happy when readers write in to tell me that my family recipes are now their family faves as well! The present complexities in our cuisines are what they are because people shared freely!

  7. Like Pel has said so aptly, this post is very inspiring. I came to know of it only last night. Such a great post for Independence Day! That said, I’m going to try your choley tonite 😉 with Manisha’s variations! After all this, I have to try this 😀

    Thank you, Anita!

    More power to my 😉 chhole!

  8. I do not comment here often, but am fully aware of the uniqueness of your recipes Anita. Very well written. I would think blogging is also a learning process, a less than 2 years of food blogging has taught me what i did not in 10 years. Why the credit usually does not go to the right place/person is still beyond me. It takes one sentence and may be a bigger part of the heart and attitude… but makes me feel good after all to acknowledge the right source.

    The chole has been bookmarked for long, and it is time I make it to qualm the storm.

    Comment here and comment wherever you see stolen content!
    Chhole and a Party will bring cheer and calm! 🙂 (I thought your spelling was pun!)

  9. First up Anita, there is nobody who writes as well as you do on any topic for that matter.

    This is a subject that needs to be addressed and I am glad you did.

    Thanks, ISG! It wasn’t easy, but yes, it had to be done.

  10. Agree fully with you. Well written Anita. Hopefully you will not stop blogging when you get too fed up with all this nasty stuff!!

    I love the interaction too much to stop!

  11. I think the main reason why credit doesn’t go where its due is because

    (a) people feel if they link to someone, all their readers will drain out through the said link
    (b) along with the draining readers, they feel their ‘popularity’ will also drain

    I am saying this based on discussions and arguments with fellow food bloggers. Let me also add that I have had similar experiences with food bloggers ‘known’ to me too but I am glad you did something about it.

    Insecurity, is it?
    What happens to popularity when their readers find out they are a thief and a liar?

  12. Haven’t been here in a while and am back just in time to say “Congratulations” on 4 years of partying, Anita. Why don’t you just have a Tea Party to celebrate? 🙂

    The TOI is famous for its “stealing” tactics. They took my pictures too! Writing to them didn’t really help but they haven’t stolen any more (that I’m aware of) from me since.

    As for not crediting the source of one’s inspiration, I think it shows a complete lack of coutesy, consideration and honesty. Maybe for some, freedom includes plagiarism!

    Right – freedom to plagiarise! Even if it means impinging on others’ freedoms! Some people sure have a strange sense of righteousness – that plagiarised post is “protected by Copyscape!”

  13. It takes quite a lot to stand up for oneself and I am so glad you did it with such dignity and eloquence! You are so right when you say, “If we keep quiet then we condone it; there is no neutral ground here”.

    I thought we were up to deep-fry something?

    Thank you, Musical.
    Yes, you can deep-fry! I think I am going to take Aparna’s suggestion and have a really Mad Tea Party where everyone is Free to bring whatever they want!

  14. Anita, I landed on this post from Nandini’s feed & am so glad I did. Every word of it is so apt and true. No better occasion to rant out such an issue then Independence day!. I hope atleast a couple of them who *copy* would stop doing once they read your post.


    If they don’t – speak up, SHOUT! Be deserving of the Freedom!🙂

  15. Congrats on completing 4 yrs and yes we should have a party, agree with Aparna we should have ‘A Mad Tea party!’I had a similar problem with TOI local edition and they too blamed it on an amateur intern.kudos to you for a very well written post!(p.s: glad to see you back)xoxo

    A Mad Tea Party it will be!
    Did they do anything other than blaming someone else? Did you ask them for compensation?

  16. Congrats on completing 4 yrs. I have been reading you for 3 yrs now! Enjoy your recipes, write ups and pictures. Am amazed that you make Bagels at home, while making killer chhole.

    Sorry to hear abt TOI and other blogs….hope they read this and back off. Take care.

    All moms (amongst other folks who are a minority in comparison!) are killer cooks!
    TOI is too big a fish to threaten; they will change only when the people working there (people like you and me) get a conscience and realise the value of freedom.

  17. I was just thinking (yes, I’m trying to cut back)… Isn’t it marvelous that, after all these years, we finally have an answer to Lewis Carroll’s famous riddle, “Why is a raven like a writing-desk?”

    A: They both snatch pages! [heehee]

    And you are the Maddest Hatter!

  18. hi Anita, i still cannot understand why people cant appreciate others if they r inspired! nicely written!


    Shortsightedness, maybe?

  19. I love your blog Anita, I truly do. And I hate taking a stance against you because I’ve agreed with everything you’ve said on this blog so far…but I had to speak up today. I think maybe you should give this person the benefit of the doubt. It honestly sounds like she made the recipe from her cooker’s instruction manual cookbook. Of course, it is still an amazing co-incidence about the ingredients being the same….but the word ‘co-incidence’ was coined for a reason…because it truly happens sometimes!
    P.S: Of course if this person ‘fesses up, I’ll look stupid but that’s a risk I’m willing to take.

    That’s what freedom means, to see for yourself and stand up for what you conclude to be right, and also the right to be heard!
    Maybe you don’t know the whole story.
    The likelihood of Hawkins coming up with that particular recipe is so low as to be an scientific improbability. I had three people (one of them an Editor by profession, another a scholar of Indian cuisine) compare the two recipes; they all concluded the same thing.
    Firstly, if there was such a recipe it would have come to light by now.
    Second, if that was the case the comment on the said post from that particular blogger would have marveled at the amazing co-incidence instead of saying, “Beautiful anita…I came to look at it again…!” (and still missed the coincidence?!)
    Thirdly, when confronted, the accused would have promptly produced the copy of the Hawkins Pressure Cooker booklet (or someone else here would have by now).
    And last, but not the least, they would not have likely made the same mistake that I did in the recipe. Yes, there is a FLAW in that recipe (I am not changing the recipe, nevertheless), which only someone like Pel can spot! For all my knowledge of North Indian cuisine, I didn’t know something as basic about black cardamoms! I am not telling what it is – figure it out – it turned out to be a good thing in this case; as if I deliberately worked in a flaw to leave an imprint not many would see! Wasn’t deliberate, of course, but that flaw is reproduced in the copied recipe.

    1. Hmm….Ok, I change my stance then. Glad you aren’t mad at me(I hope?!)

      It’s cool!
      (Now, you have to ‘pay’ by coming to the party! 😆 )
      If there was the teeny-tiniest bit of doubt in my mind, I would have never ever taken this step.

      1. The closest to a hawkins pressure cooker book I found online was the recipes the company posted on their site(…….aaaaand the pindi chole recipe is very different from yours BUT the murgh musallam that Srivalli claims to have gotten from the cooker books seems to be the same……so it is indeed suspicious.
        Btw, where does the blogger say,’Beautiful Anita, I came to look at it again”? I scoured through her whole entry and still couldn’t find it(
        P.S:I will come to the party if you accept non-bloggers entries 🙂

        😀 yes, we knew that already!
        Just scroll down the comments on my chhole post…and you shall see it.

        Non-bloggers come to the party every year!

      2. I can’t reply to your reply below but Hawkins Pressure Cooker company, Mumbai, also pointed to their Chana Pindi and said that’s what we have. According to those who have tried it, it’s a great recipe.

        Beautiful Anita – and how true cos Anita is beautiful inside and out – is on Anita’s Punjabi Chhole post several months before the offending post was made. Tell me though, if you found something interesting enough to come back and look at it again (and possibly again and again?), wouldn’t you recognize it to be the same recipe you have in your cookbook? If not at that moment, but some time down the line? Maybe 5 months later? I know I would. But people do have memory lapses – which is entirely human. However, in this case, not only do we have Anita’s fingerprint on the recipe but Hawkins is also at a loss.

        If you can say that this recipe is from a cookbook, how difficult is it to say that this recipe was inspired by another blogger?

        This whole paranoia of not wanting to link out is the result of misunderstanding the nature of search marketing. It’s a clear case of how little knowledge can be dangerous. It’s also a case of wanting to be the ‘best’ blogger out there and/or a recipe developer. To these bloggers, I say: put a crown on your head if you want to but look around and you will see that the top 50 food bloggers do not necessarily come up with their own recipes. They are inspired by other bloggers, by chefs, by restaurants, by magazines and they give credit where it is due.

    2. LOL: Those recipe booklets stuffed into the cooker cartons look so unappetizing, Surprised that anyone takes them seriously! 😉

      They make for a great ‘source’ just because!

  20. I’m glad that HT atleast had the grace to acknowledge and apologise!TOI lost my respect years ago – they have just become even worse over the years – ethics seems to be a stranger to their vocabulary.

    It is indeed very saddening to see one’s efforts go uncredited – but I agree with Nags comment that the main reason many don’t like to give credit is an unwillingness to “direct traffic” to another food blog – I think this is a misconception on the part of people who believe this.

    I, for one, when I see a link to a recipe in someone’s post, may click on it and read and bookmark – but it isn’t just the recipe which endears a blog to me, it’s the way which someone writes and inspires me to cook that floats my boat.

    Wouldn’t I just spend lots of money buying the best cookbooks otherwise? Why would we all spend so much time visiting food blogs if not for the uniqueness they bring in their individual styles. And I salute your style and the four years of food stories you have shared with us. Thank you!

    Thanks, Miri, for the wonderful words.
    People will come when we have something worthwhile to share. Readers drift but we retain the ones we deserve. I have hardly written this year, but look, how many of you are still around, reading!
    Love you, all of you, for keeping me on your radars!

  21. So I keep coming back to read the comments because they are sometimes as insightful as your post. I realize I have some things to say.

    When Nags said that “inspired by” is ignored by a blogger because of “insecurity” that just amazes me. Not her statement but the logic of the blogger. I have discovered and found many a great blogs through links and I have stayed faithful to the blogger who has pointed them to me. “Link karma” (i believe it was one of Amit Varma’s blogging article that talked about it) is a powerful thing and I for one believe in it. 🙂

    Which brings me to my second thought about your tea party. Why not get everyone to make your Punjabi chole for the party with an accompaniment of their choice? I like mine with Tibetan bread or toasted sourdough bread! Just saying. 🙂

    Comments are the life of this blog!
    Yes, Link karma is a powerful thing!
    Some others have suggested that too! 🙂 But I think I want to leave the dish to each one of you!

    Jaya, WordPress has a new feature – a ‘like’ button that you can click if you like a post! Go ahead, ‘like’ it!

    1. I can’t see the button although I can see that you have liked this post. Am I having a Duh! moment?

      Hmm. Is it accessible only to WordPress users, I wonder?
      Hey, Pel, do you see it?

      1. The ‘Like’ button is in the toolbar that shows up at the top if you are logged into WordPress. It’s the logged in part that is important. I don’t know who came up with this but it is *so* wrong to do it that way. And funnily enough now the text says “You and null other bloggers like this post.” I want that smiley who holds his stomach, throws himself on the floor and laughs his head off cos death that way is better than suffering through the pain that WP is inflicting with this poorly implemented monster.

        That is pathetic implementation! What is point of that button if most readers cannot use it!
        (The vision of that poor smiley is really funny! 😆 )

  22. Hey.. I read your blog many times…and read the other post too..OMG… word to word has been copied.. so shame to shame on BL…Please keep your spirits up… wish we had better copyrighting laws in Blogging world.. And nice that you found this Thief…
    Love You always

    Thanks for leaving a comment in support, Ashwini!

  23. Congrats Anita on the 4. The idea of a Potluck tea Party sounds fun.

    I am really proud that you took a stand and made HT acknowledge. Though I really do not want to disagree with you and honestly it makes sense to give credit where it is due, sometimes the basic recipes belonging to a particular region is cooked the same way in all homes.

    In many of my Bengali recipe posts some readers will say they make it exactly the same way and I am sure they do. If these readers choose to blog and post the exact same recipe as mine rewritten in their own words, what am I/we to do.

    If I was wrong in understanding and if they copy and paste word for word now that is something.

    A Potluck it will be!

    That is my point exactly – if a reader spots a familiar recipe they always say so – “Oh yes, we cook it just like you have done!” instead of saying, “Beautiful…I came to look at it again…!” , which is what she had to say on seeing a near-copy of the recipe!
    The list of ingredients can be same for many recipes but the quantity of ingredients, the method of preparation, the tips and shortcuts, come within the purview of copyright. She did not even ‘adapt’ the recipe – she just rewrote the exact steps including the tips and suggestions!
    If you have had bloggers present recipes that look uncannily like yours, here are some guidelines that may help you know if you can stake your claim.

  24. Ooops sorry, I did not see that rediff blog. That is a total copy, word to word, pic to pic. Yeah these people should be put in blog-jail

    Bhagya Laxmi’s blog offends less; it is obvious she doesn’t know better. It seems to be her way of ‘collecting’ recipes… But the other one is a seasoned blogger with more than one blog to her credit!

    1. I do agree and then I feel even if my recipe is similar to one that has been blogged about, it is nice to point(link) out to one that you have seen and seemed familiar

      It is not just courtesy but also the right thing to do!

  25. You have raised another valid point Anita!
    What happened to ‘ANITALAKSHMI’? Why there are no updates?
    When a reader asked about it, she was told to shut up… politely of course…. , and the blogger claimed to have contributed 50,000 rs to the treatment of her maid…no less.
    And now, for reasons best known to her,those posts related to the fund raising are deleted.

    Only she can throw some light…

  26. Nice post. I too remember having seen the pindi chana recipe in the cookbook which is different..

    You have already decided the potluck party else I was waiting for a Dum Aloo recipe…’for the love of potato’ :-).

    Dum Aloo should eventually make it to these pages! 😀 Till then, a small potluck!

  27. After going through the other blog post and comments, I completely agree with you. The blogger claims to have been impressed about “black cardamom” in the chhole recipe from her cookbook. If she had read your recipe, which I’m sure she did at least 2 times, her response should have been “Wow.. my cookbook recipe is the exact same recipe as Anita’s!”. You have perfected this recipe over a long period of time and someone claiming that they found recipe elsewhere is preposterous. Only way I would believe her is if she produced a copy of the cookbook.

    That’s exactly what I said to her – show me the book.

  28. I made your simple potato bhaji. Thanks for getting it out of the archives! I pretty much did as you explained so didn’t bother to type the whole recipe down again (one lazy bum I am). Let me know if you want to be acknowledgment in any other way! (I just mentioned your name and linked it to your blog)

    That’s all one need do!
    Simple, just like that recipe which I too credited to Shakuntala, my maid, as I ought to!

  29. Accha, let me know if it looks something like yours. It tasted awesome though…thanks!

    It looks exactly like the original – the one prepared by Shakuntala herself!
    She gave me one more recipe idea – the unique UP tadka for aloo ka raita! Try that as well!

  30. Anita- I’ve said it before and I will say it again, your blog is a gem and one that I look up to. Congratulations on 4 years of blogging and wishing you many more years of eating, sharing and mad partying.

    I’m so glad you took a stance and said something. Reading your post makes me think I should say more in my next event announcement. 80% of my “keeper” recipes come from other blogs and I often rewrite these recipes on my blog, giving credit where credit is due, but now I will be very careful about the way I write recipes that have been inspired from elsewhere.

    Thanks for your support, Nupur. There is only so much we can ‘create’ on our own; much is inspired by others! That chhole recipe may be mine, still it is not as if I invented it. It is still one that is inspired by a lifetime in Delhi.
    In fact, after writing this post I am paying even more attention to the source of the inspiration!

  31. All right woman. You make the family proud! People’s sense of honesty is amazing. The problem my dear is “entitlement.” I am not going to start my soap box here. Keep up the good work and “chole” it is!! and I am making poori’s as Vidur and Dhruv love them and they are almost done with their summer vacation.

    Thanks, sis! Yes, do have yourself a party!

  32. First of all Congrats for 4 years of blogging…..I’m feeling speechless right now that how some one can simply copy the whole post as is…..i mean they copied the whole story …going to friends house….eating MDH masala chana & at the bottom mentioned your post, many a times reader even don’t bother to see that last part…..too much yaar & the last one(your known blogger) I always thought of her as someone really interested in cooking & who take pains to get things authentically(she’s cut off from my blog hopping list)……but I’m glad U wrote this all, bloggers need to know when something(recipe/photos/stories) doesn’t belong to them they can not behave innocent & show it as it’s their own.

    Anyone can make a mistake, but it is also upto us to make amends.
    I have a problem if you are going to continue to claim otherwise – you will not own up and hope that repeating the lie long enough will make it true! Ain’t happening – and for that I have to thank all of you for the support everyone has shown.

    Thanks, all!

  33. I’ve just checked my hawkins cook book…though my book is quite new…I’ve been told all the recipes in it are the same and haven’t been changed for quite some time .It has a chana pindi (chickpeas-rawalpindi style) recipe… most of the ingredients are the same and the method preparation is totally different from yours.

    A reader referred to the Pindi chana recipe from the Hawkins book in that very post post saying the same thing! There is just no way Hawkins can have the same recipe! I made it (the recipe) up! 🙂

  34. Very thought provoking post!

    Don’t get me started with foodie issues connected to Times of India… They’re the worst. Have you read their columns by Rashmi Uday Singh, their Food Critic? All she talks about is her shoulder rubbing with the Page 3 crowds!
    I’d like to share this blog post with your followers with your permission…

    TOI can no longer disappoint, no matter the depths it plunges to.

  35. Congrats on completing 4 years. I do happen to have some old Hawkins cookbooks, and nope, the recipe isn’t the same! And “borrowing ideas” is not just restricted to food probably a lot less obvious and less easy to pinpoint with other categories. Food blogs are the very first blogs I started reading, and you all are so generous with your recipes – thank you for that. Hope to join in on your party with some sandwiches and tea 🙂

    Oh yes, plagiarism is rampant!
    See you at the party!

  36. Happy Blog anniversary! I loved this article. but I must say I am also shocked to read it. I thought that blogger was writing her original recipes

    I am also happy to find the link to Hawkins recipes. (Thanks, Nancy )
    I can actually provide the link to some of the recipes tried from Hawkins rather than typing.

    Some people don’t want to take the time to write original stuff when there is so much out there they can claim as theirs. That is not the only recipe on that blog that is blatantly picked from other people’s original effort. We must speak up every time we notice plagiarism and create a greater awareness. That is the only way the menace can be reduced.

  37. Very well written and justified post !!

    yes i see TOI being nasty , one of my pictures has been stolen by them n i have posted about that too…

    Plagiarism is WRONG and a crime and should be brought to notice for sure..

    Time to speak up! Write a post, have some tea, and link to this post!

  38. Congrats on completing 4 years of partying dear Anita.I came here from Sra’s Feed.And trust me I learned so many things here today..I spend quite a time reading all, your lovely thought-provoking post and comments.There have been many instances where my pictures and recipes were copied word-to-word( many a time my readers have pointed this out to me) but I didn’t bothered or should I say -have courage to speak up..At the end to have a peaceful night sleep , you know I kind of forgiven them and moved on …Some of them have still my pictures and recipe running in their blogs still.I have always tried to link the original source if I am making something from that and will continue to do so in future and I expect that from fellow bloggers also.It was a pleasure visiting your blog, I will make sure I do visit here often.
    hugs and smiles

    Jaya, it is time to speak up and be heard! Join the party and spread the word. Gently tell those who copied to fix the oversight (many a times, it is ignorance); if they don’t TALK about it. It is our job as bloggers to moderate this space!

  39. Scratch that “not”. The sentence was meant to read:

    Anita, I know I’m woefully, pathetically late! anyhoo, here’s my submission for the party:

    its a wonder that one little word can change the entire message!! still sheepish…..

    🙂 But you were right the first time itself – you are not woefully late! There are other friends of mine who are holding up the party!

  40. Hi Anita

    I came across this post thru a strange coincidence. I remember looking for the punjabi chole recipe on google last year and your post used to come first. Nevertheless I was so naive at that time and the lack of time I had….. that I was unable to make any difference between your and srivalli’s recipe.

    I adapted the chole recipe from srivalli’s post and even mentioned it in my post. Here’s the link:

    Now after reading this article and going back to srivalli’s post, I think there is a lot of resemblance and similarity and the hawkin’s cookbook theory seems to be just that……… a theory.

    Tonight I will change the credits and link back to the original source of the chole recipe.

    Thanks for highlighting such an important aspect of blogging. I think we should be honest and give credit where it is due. In today’s world sincerity, authenticity are just mere words.

    Personally, I do not check whats happening in the food blogosphere as I do not have much time. But it was good that I came across your article today. You have really raised something important that we just let pass by in our lives.

    Thanks again.

    I am glad you found this post! Thanks also, for taking the trouble to edit your older post.
    We must also make an effort to create a greater awareness about blogging ethics (which are not much different from general writing norms)… so make yourself a cup of tea, join the party, and tell your readers about plagiarism and ethics!
    This was not an ignorant blogger btw; she has that plagiarised page protected by copyscape!!

  41. Well said! A simple rule of thumb that I can’t understand why more bloggers do not follow is, you wdnt think of plagiarizing an article on scientific research… WHy wd you want to do that to ANY article?
    I’d like repost this on my Facebook food page Panfusine with your consent.

    Sure, spread the word! Manisha posted a link earlier. Knowledge is the key – the more we spread the word the greater the awareness which can go a long way towards reducing the menace.

    1. Hi Niv

      I am a little confused. Are you asking me or Anita for the reposting on your facebook Panfusine page?

      I think Niv means to post a link to this post on her page, right Niv?

  42. “I’m late I’m late for a very important date!” Yes I seem to have missed this entirely Anita!

    I have developed that thick skin you talked about. My experience with TOI (bastards!) still leaves such a bad taste in my mouth! So much happened behind the scenes and it continued for like almost a year! I now even wonder if there is a point to vent frustrations – is there a point? Tell me because I am loosing faith especially in the Indian Press as they are always seem to come through where theft and plagiarism is concerned! It disappoints me!

    Just before I left on my summer vacation I was informed that the online version of a Telegu paper had copied my recipe here: they even went to the trouble of cropping my copyright watermark on the picture. I tweeted and FBd the hell out of it but as you see it’s still there. I also got no response to my emails! Anita it sucks and I have lost hope!

    As for bloggers stealing: like you said most of us in the community are close and patrol the blogs. I love the community because there is the support and people like you and Manisha are never far to go and beat the crap out of them HAHAHA!

    Is there a real solution besides developing a thick skin?

    Shouting helps (at least you vent!). 😀 But it is more effective when more of us join in!
    So join in – it is never too late!

  43. After the great tea party i read the Flaw points again and came here again to see…

    you know as you say…..
    If you came across a fellow-blogger’s seemingly original recipe that was exactly like yours would you not say something about the amazing coincidence?!! Or would you instead leave an innocuous comment?

    I had this experience once very clearly , i saw a recipe on a blog ( an old one discovered recently by me ) that had used an ‘idea’ including the recipe (modified), i had posted earlier on my healthfood blog . Now on that blog of mine i keep posting my own indigenous ‘ideas’ about making the food lighter and yet tasty…So when i read that post i just thought it was a coincidence that the blogger has also come up with a similar idea ..:) and with all good intention i posted a comment and also said that i have posted a similar thing interestingly on my blog giving the link. To my surprise that old ‘respectful’ blogger ( whose presence here in these comments gives me an idea how hypocrite can bloggers be ) did not publish my comment !!!
    That was a clear indication for me that there was something wrong…she did not want any credit to go to a new blogger with poor pictures ( i used to take pics with a cellphone camera then)…i ignored it as an act of pure snobbery but ethics should be ethics and bloggers should not indulge in hypocrisy as i see her writing big words about the topic.

    That incident has stayed on my mind and this time i could not resist sharing it…i will be comfortable if you do not publish this one as i really do not want to create a controversy … it will be difficult for me to write detailed posts about the incident and the links n all as it drains me emotionally , for that matter i adore you for the pains you have taken to write about the issues and seeing so many of us sharing our thoughts here i think it is worth all the pain ( but still i am not in that frame of mind right now , though i am sure i see myself doing such a post in future )..

    The only comments that get crashed here are the spam kind! It is find with me even when my readers disagree! I will just try harder to explain…as I did in this comment to point out the damning evidence, and the reader then agreed!

  44. GB directed me to your Blog and this post. I am glad I am able to join you in this cause.

    I happened to see a Blogger ( use content and photographs from BongMom, Finely Chopped and me. And those are just the ones I could put my finger on.

    I have sent a note to her @, not sure though if she will respond. I cannot comment on her posts, it just doesnt allow me.

    Your thoughts and comments will help.

    It really is more rampant that we think! But, more often than not, bloggers will comply…Of course, there are exceptions!

  45. TOI sucks. Sorry I am late to the party.
    Last year when some bloggers raised their voice against a new kind of theft, accusing the same author, they were threatened and put in pain. All the evidences were secretly buried and the innocents who brought out this were asked to apologize by many bloggers.
    Just want to know what happened to that poor servant who had heart surgery with that donation.LOL!

    Threatened?! Wow!
    Those who asked for apologies obviously still cannot see very well – just look at the evidence and then decide! They are trying to make it appear as if the whole case rests on the spice being roasted or not! That, dearies, is not at all the main point!! You can take a horse (with apologies to the fine animal! :)) to the water…

  46. As for the other blogger copying “your” recipe , I am not sure..she may have..she may not have.. But why do you think no one else has a similar recipe ? I personally have heard many friends using similar spices and using the dark roasting , grinding procedure. You yourself have said that one of your friends gave you this idea. It just comes off as little bit arrogant is all.

    I do not understand the drama behind this issue. Are you angered because somebody stole your recipe ? Are you angered that she is taking away your credit ? If that’s the case , I myself have cooked your chole may a times (It was wonderful , BTW) and when my guests compliments it , I just say I got it off the internet..It makes no sense to explain to them who created the recipe ! So , it just puzzles me that you would take so much effort/time and talk about it and humiliate the other person in this way and have your friends do the same thing. I think you should have been the bigger person and should have dealt with this issue privately ! Just my 2 cents.

    If I haven’t said it already, let me reiterate it that there are many many similar recipes. But, it would be hard for anyone to come up with a recipe that is exact in quantities and procedure. Even I vary from this written recipe every time I cook! The quantities in the recipe are what I used on that particular day!

    As always, I first discussed it with the blogger personally. I spoke up not just because a recipe was stolen (it has happened too often to be worth mentioning here!). There are many people who do this out of ignorance and a gently nudge is all that is needed. It works more often than not, and when it doesn’t I just leave it at that without making it my life-mission to show people the path of truth etc.

    I spoke up because I feel plagiarism is a serious issue. Further, this was not your newbie-ignorant blogger – she protects her pages through Copyscape! Just because the Web is easily accessible to whoever wants to access it, does not mean that the content is free to use without acknowledgment. My posts here are bound by the same rules that are applicable to the printed written word. Plagiraism cannot and should not be overlooked (I say that to my students all the time). Food bloggers spoke up for it earlier.

    Only when we talk will awareness spread and is that not the best weapon to fight ignorance with!

    People are free to cook from blogs without the need to mention the source to their guests or families. But, if anyone is planning to test, re-write, be inspired from another recipe in writing (especially one that is already published) then they had better follow these rules!

    Thanks for writing in, Jk! I am always glad for readers who actually take the time to read what I write, and even more for those who share their opinion.

  47. First off , thanks you so much for taking the time to reply.I defly understand the importance of plagiarism and is something that should not be taken lightly.But , in this scenario it was just hard for me say it was your indeed your recipe that the blogger stole! Anyway , all this aside..I love your blog and will keep coming back.

    Your punjabi kadhi has been haunting me for a while . I may just cook it this week. 🙂

    Did you read through all the comments and the damning evidence therein?
    Can’t win them all I suppose….but there is no doubt in my mind whatsoever about where my recipe came from. That kadhi, much inspired by friends and cookbook writers, is another winner! 🙂
    Glad to have you here, Jk!

  48. Has the torn, and now lost, cookbook been found? The publisher of the said cookbook gave a very different recipe – one for Pindi Chana – when contacted. They included a recipe for garam masala, which was also different from Anita’s.

    Right. She lied and then had to lie further to cover up…more slips!

  49. Hurrah for today’s uproar about Cooks Source magazine & its ‘ulta chor kotwal ko daante’ editor Judith Griggs.
    Maybe these theiving Newspapers in India will now get their act together. Thanks anita for being proactive in protesting against plagiarizing

    What was she thinking! And how bloggers rallied around for support! It is time everyone (bloggers included) stopped thinking the Internet is a “free-for-all!” The blogger I mentioned has copied (recipes, even taglines!) from other bloggers…doing the similar “editing and rewriting” that Jane talks about.
    A few readers did say I ought to feel flattered…but somehow, I didn’t. I felt cheated.

  50. Very well said Anita!! I happend to find this wonderful post today when I was looking around for “rules” about recipes ownership.
    It recently happened to me where someone (one of my “friends” so to say) used my ideas (my recipes and even took pictures of the food they made just like the pics on my blog), published it on facebook page claiming it to be their original idea.
    It’s so unfair!!

    Spread the word!

  51. Well said…the sad part is that these things still exist in some form or the other in India, blame it on songs, picked up “cut to cut” from the original korean/chinese/english song.

    Sad part is the newspaper so revered has the audacity of plagarizing…wow…this made me loose my faith in biggies too…

    The biggest one is the worst offender!

  52. Dear Anita,

    A big hooraaayyy!!! to this article. I know I am a bit late in commenting, but funnily enough, I was going to make your chole today, and then stumbled across this post, which said exactly what I have felt sometimes.

    I am a recent blogger and probably not a very good one 🙂 But the one thing I know from my days as an academic is that its ABSOLUTELY WRONG to plagiarise. I have spent hours and hours of my life drumming that into my students at university and its something I believe strongly in.

    Giving credit to where its due does not diminish you, if anything it makes you better as a person. I recently had a few incidents where some people were using my pictures and recipes and passing them off as their own. I felt violated by their actions. Perhaps violated is not the perfect word to use, but it describes my feelings at that point. I had the majority of the posts taken off, and also alerted another blogger about the copying. But the hassle of having to do that drains you. Its easier to say, well just let it go.

    I am not claiming to be an original cook, but its not that hard to accredit the original author. Sure, every recipe is handed down, passed on, rewritten… but at the end of the day, that post on that blog is written by you, and by definition an extension of you.

    Which is why I applaud your speaking out about this issue! And your punjabi chole are the best ever 🙂

    I apologise for the essay, didn’t realise how long the comment was!

    Thanks for taking the time, Michelle. I try to do the same with my students and perhaps, that is why I had a BIG problem this time.
    It sure drains you…and I have hardly contacted all the sites/bloggers that have stolen my content. It takes too much time and energy and one has to let go after a point. But this was a one aside case where the blogger was a ‘friend’ and refused to acknowledge her wrong doing. At least this incident prompted her to start acknowledging the original sources of some of the other ‘inspired’ recipes on her blog! She actually changed her older posts to include the sources!

  53. Dear Anita,
    Wanted a good chhole receipe and stumbled on your receipe and also read the other blog too.I never gave much thought about all this but today I was cleaning my kitchen found the “hawkins cookbook”Have to say the receipe is totally different.The receipe does not mention the use of tomatoes and the garam masala receipe is different…..

    Your chhole receipe rocks!!!

    Thanks, Sheila, for reading and checking to reconfirm the non-existent Hawkins recipe.

  54. Well Said Anita, Really inspiration for everyone who want to started something new in life. I’m very impressed. You provide such a wonderful information thanks for sharing with us.

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