modification aggregator for recipe sites

We have a bag of shrimp to cook through, so I’m looking up shrimp curries, here among other places. Now, commenters on recipe sites are famous or infamous for commenting about their modified versions of the recipe, and this recipe is no exception, but something crossed my mind that never had before:

“My husband said it didn’t taste like something he would eat at an Indian restaurant as all the Indian food he’s had is pretty spicy and this was not. We ended up adding some curry and cayenne pepper.”

“I did, however, find it necessary to increase the spice amounts and added 1 tsp… I found the sauce to be a bit thin so I thickened it up by using a cornstarch slurry.”

“Very runny, though. Next time I’ll simmer longer and add some flour.”


It is, of course, not shocking that commenters might agree that a recipe needs modification in certain ways and also agree on how to do it. But wouldn’t it be nice to flag popular modifications that reliably improve the recipe?

The obvious difficulty here is how to dredge the comments for modifications automatically. I think the non-obvious difficulty is interpreting the star ratings, so you can figure out what modifications are really useful. If someone says “I had to thicken the sauce” and rates the recipe four stars, are they rating the modified version or the original? Presumably it varies. The best option might be to have a “needs” button, where you could pick from a drop-down menu or insert your own text; it would be easy to aggregate those results. But even if every recipe site in existence implemented such a thing tomorrow, there’d presumably still be some value in figuring out how to extract useful summary information from already extant reviews.

(This all said, I think I’m going to go with the Alton Brown-endorsed shrimp tikka masala from Martha Stewart Living.)


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