Styling Food- Indian Culture: Main Course

February 16, 2016

When I started working as a food stylist I used to listen to everything and everyone about what looks good and what doesn’t. I would be on set and if the photographer or the art director said that the coriander leaf upside down didn’t look good, it became a gospel for me.


From then on, no coriander leaves upside down. Don’t get me wrong, everyone on sets come up with different things and ideas for the final outcome of the dish. Through the years I have developed my own style and aesthetic and I must say that I truly believe it is time to push the envelope and to stop thinking in a rigid guideline format.


Now a days more and more clients are embracing a looser approach to food photography and styling and I think that this is actually a good way to get clients and consumers more and more interested in food images through different modes of social media.




When the image is clicked in a wide frame you tend to cover a broader picture and bigger story of the product you trying to sell. As you can see in the picture above, the traditional way of serving a meal is portrayed which has been modified and due to the wide frame we know it is for the wedding occasion (rich background and authentic jewellery.) the image also covers all the traditional curries that a typically served in the Indian wedding.


As we all know India is a country with loads of various religions all staying together as one. Due to which the food habits differ and we have different traditional curries from all around India.


For us stylist’s Indian curries are the simplest to style. You can never go wrong with the garnish. Indian curries are generally divided into major four gravies which can be identified by their colour: - the white gravy/ kaju gravy; the red gravy/ makhani; the green gravy/ palak gravy; and the brown gravy/onion tomato kadai.





Once the gravies are prepared and the perfect colour and texture for the gravy is achieved the chef has to either mix meats or vegetables or a combination of both as per the recipe requirement and yes the gravy is ready to style.


The basic garnish that go on the curries are fresh cream drizzle, chilli oil drizzle for fresh look, coriander leaves, mint leaves and Indian whole spice tempering/ tadka.



At time you realise the cooked meat is heavy and sinks at the bottom of the curry bowl, this is the time when all the tricks and cheats a food stylist is famous for comes to play and to show the juicy leg piece of chicken or the bright coloured veggie; we food stylists pack the base of the curry bowl with sliced potato or inverted empty bowl that is stuck at the base before the gravy is poured over it and this helps the veggie to float on the top while the shot is taken.


Everyone thinks you need to be an expert to style a good dish, but that is not true. The fact is you need to enjoy what you are doing and just have fun. There is no right and no wrong until the final picture makes you to tuck in and eat the food.


Happy Styling! :)


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