Lake Isle Press

The Making of Return to the Rivers: Manuscript Phase


In this series we'll show you the behind the scenes process of making  a cookbook from the publisher's perspective. We’re very excited to work with Vikas Khanna again for Return to the Rivers. Inspired by a chance meeting with the Dalai Lama, Khanna embarked on a journey through the river valleys into the heart of Himalayan cooking. Traveling through Bhutan, Nepal, Tibet, northern India, Myanmar, western China, and Pakistan left an impression on Khanna. The resulting book is an incredible collection of recipes, photos, and memories as a means to preserve and share the sacred foodways, values, and simple gifts of friendship that the Himalayan people bestowed upon him.

In the manuscript, Khanna writes "In the interest of authenticity I have tried to preserve most of the recipes the way I found them and only made slight adjustments to make it possible to recreate them in a Western kitchen. My desire was to document mostly what average people are actually eating on a daily basis."

Look forward to simple dishes that come from great care and heart like: Eggplant Fritters with Ginger, Spinach and Cheese Momos, and Burmese Fish Noodle Soup. As in his last book, Flavors First, Khanna did all the incredible food and travel photography himself.  

Editor Jenn Sit is hard at work reviewing Return to the Rivers. In this early stage, she looks at everything from larger organizational issues and overall content to the language and style of the headnotes. We also work with an amazing outside copy editor whose job is to go through the manuscript with a finetooth comb and makie sure everything, from the way measurements are called for to how you're directed to deep-fry, is consistent and correct throughout. With each editing pass, questions and comments will be raised and brought to the attention of the author. 

We do a lot of our jobs via computer screen, but with this part of the editing process, nothing beats pen to paper. 

Jenn on cookbook editing: "All day, I'm cooking in my head. As I read through the recipes, I imagine each step in my mind and so when something seems unclear or missing, I query it. A well-written recipe should be so easy to follow that you don't even notice the work that went into writing it. I love when an author's recipe sounds so good that I have to make it that night for dinner. The goal of course is to end up with recipes that are not only clear and concise, but especially in a book such as this, to create a whole reading and cooking experience that brings these cultures and places to life. "

Return to the Rivers is still in its infancy and will be pored over again and again and put into a fantastic layout by our designers. But right now, these 360 pages of 12pt Times New Roman have to get through Jenn first. 

10 Reader Comments - Share Your Thoughts

  • Hey its really nice book…btw i am a very big fan of Vikas Khanna!!!

  • Hi,
    Looking forward for your latest book. I am in class 10, and want to do Hotel Management. It my dream to come to NYC and work in Junoon.
    Pls could you give me some guidelines related to this.

    Good Luck for your new book.

    Thank You

  • Dear Vikas, Best wishes for all your new books and hope you invite me to the launch of at least one of them. Wanted to wish you many things, but as I did not have the appropriate words, this song by Rascal Flatts will convey all I want to say :

    “I hope the days come easy and the moments pass slow
    And each road leads you where you want to go
    And if you’re faced with the choice and you have to choose
    I hope you choose the one that means the most to you

    And if one door opens to another door closed
    I hope you keep on walkin’ ‘til you find the window
    If it’s cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile

    But more than anything, more than anything
    My wish for you Is that this life becomes all that you want it to
    Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small
    You never need to carry more than you can hold
    And while you’re out there gettin’ where you’re gettin’ to
    I hope you know somebody loves you And wants the same things too
    Yeah, this is my wish

    I hope you never look back but you never forget
    All the ones who love you and the place you left
    I hope you always forgive and you never regret
    And you help somebody every chance you get
    Oh, you’d find God’s grace in every mistake
    And always give more than you take ”

  • Assalamu alikum….i will not start my talk with/i am a fan of your, i like e.t.c   alla i want to say is i feel you really love cooking and all your work and do it not because it is your passion now but with heart and happiness…and i feel you r a person who smiled and speak to everyone with love and respect without caring cast, religoin e.t.c…. may almighty God always show you the true path and also give u a life partner who will be all yours   AMEEN..

  • Dear Vikas ji,
    I am sure you dont remember me, but I met you on the sets of Master Chef with my mother, who is a very big fan of yours. She is from Dharamshala and she sends you her blessings for your new project. Our whole country is praying for your success. Your brother Hitesh

  • Hello, Thank you Vikas for sharing your expertise with the world through your book.May God be with you in every walk of life .ALL THE VERY BEST TO YOU AND YOUR TEAM.

  • @Girish - Thanks, we’re so excited about the book. And yes, sometimes there’s nothing like tearing through a page with red pen!

    @Anjallee - Yes, we are doing a giveaway of an autographed copy of “Flavors First”—just make sure you like the Lake Isle Press Facebook page!

  • Best of Luck Vikas, it would be a wonderful documentation and culinery journey through that region. It would give the chance to know a culture through their kitchen. Really wishing all the best for this initiative.

  • Hello Jenn - Cant wait to get my hands on the published book. All the very best.

    I totally agree to the editing process with pen and paper there is no software to match this,

  • Hi,

    I am looking forward to the new book by Vikas.  Himalayas are mesmerising and I am sanguine that the recipes, owing their origin to locales situated in the Himalayas, are going to lure everybody’s tongues-courtesy the midas touch of Vikas.

    Vikas mentions on his facebook update today that there is a chance of winning his autographed first cook book “Flavours First”. I hope I am the lucky one (fingers crossed).

    All the very best to your team. The book is sure to rock.

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