Book Review: Bollywood Kitchen

Bollywood and Indian food are perennial topics of conversation among desis in pardes. The Indian diaspora in the North America, Europe especially in the US and UK has done a great job of ‘importing’ wholesome doses of both.

Indian entrepreneurs regularly take over movie theaters across US and Canadian cities to screen latest bollywood hits. This continues to be popular despite the pervasiveness of Youtube, digital streaming and to some extent torrents and (illegal) movie file sharing. Watching a movie on the big screen and enjoying a nice dinner at a local Indian restaurant is a common pastime.

SreeRao
Extract from the book

A recent program ‘Getting to know Bollywood, one meal at a time’ in the popular NPR program, Marketplace, features the new book “Bollywood Kitchen: Home-Cooked Indian Meals Paired with Unforgettable Bollywood Films.” In the interesting interview, the host Kai Ryssdal interviews the author Sri Rao.  The Indian-American author talks about working between two film industries, being part of the first generation of American-born Indian-Americans and what his mom said when he told her he was writing a cookbook.

Rao describes his background and the reason for bringing Bollywood and Food together in the book

Yeah, so I’m from a small town in central Pennsylvania, and I was one of very few nonwhite kids in my community growing up. Every day after dinner, my parents would pop a tape into VCR and we would watch these fantastic Bollywood movies, and that’s how I learned the language. That’s how I learned about the music and the culture and so many of the traditions of where my parents came from.

The Indian food in America is now its own thing. And as people like me are starting to come of age now — you know, I’m one of the oldest American-born Indians in the country. Immigration from India was only legalized in 1965. At that time in 1965 when immigration was opened up from India, there were only 10,000 Indians in the entire country, my dad being one of them. And now there are over 4 million I believe, something like that. And so you’re starting to see us as a group come up and sort of find our voice in various fields. So people like, you know, Mindy Kaling and Aziz Ansari in entertainment or Kamala Harris and Nikki Haley in politics. And then in the world of food, this is one of the first or one of a few cookbooks that have been written by someone born in America who is of Indian descent.

Check out the book, Bollywood Kitchen: Home-Cooked Indian Meals Paired with Unforgettable Bollywood Films, on Amazon:

 

Image from the book

 

 

The reviews thus far have been quite flattering

publishersweekly.com

Readers expecting wildly complex preparations and nothing but showy musicals will be pleasantly surprised on both fronts, as Rao offers a refreshingly diverse set of movies as well as recipes that are easily sourced without sacrificing flavor or requiring too much time to prepare.

Houston Chronicle

In “Bollywood Kitchen,” Rao gives new meaning to “dinner and a movie” by creating menus inspired by classic Indian films. Example: Keema (ground beef curry), rajma (kidney bean stew) and naan crisps that are evocative of the lavish melodrama “Devdas.” Masala-crusted salmon, rice and lentils, grilled asparagus and mustard seeds, and mint/cilantro chutney drawn from the Oscar-nominated “Lagaan.” Pan-seared cod with curry leaves and lemon rice with lentils, peanuts and chile for “Guru,” the rags-to-riches story of a self-made billionaire and the woman he loves.

Our editor, Mohan, posts on Amazon Just what a desi mom ordered! 

Sri’s new book touches on the heart of two things that keep desis in pardes going: Bollywood and desi food. For those like me of Indian origin, who grew up on a steady diet of desi movies and food, the book is a walk down the memory lane.

The illustrated book has brief movie reviews and recipes interspersed with glossy photographs from bollywood movies. If you are looking for an Informative and entertaining primer on Bollywood and some Indian-American recipes, this is the book for you.

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Book Review: Transit Lounge

Here we present a review of new book ‘Transit Lounge’ by Sunil Mishra.

Transit Lounge by [Mishra, Sunil ] Transit Lounge is a contemporary book consisting of short incidents, observations and reflections while travelling to 30 countries across six different continents during the last 15 years.

The book is a personal account of travels to places in Africa (Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt and Mauritius), South America (Venezuela and Argentina), Asia (China, Iran, Kuwait, UAE, Singapore, Indonesia, Sri Lanka,Malaysia and Thailand), Europe (UK, France, Italy,Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Georgia,Turkey, Croatia and Romania), USA, Australia and New Zealand.

It was interesting to observe all these different cultures and people from an Indian perspective. The book is a compilation of small incidents and events during such travels; it includes losing an air ticket, dealing with difficult custom officials or getting mugged in a prime location in a foreign country.”

Review by our Editor on Amazon:  “An entertaining and readable travelogue”

An adage – join the navy and see the world – applies in equal measure to this generation of Indian IT professionals who have gone global. Sunil Mishra has leveraged such an opportunity to capture the essence of his travels in the newly published book in which he collates his observations of cultures and people from a distinctly Indian perspective.

The fast-paced narrative is sprinkled with anecdotes and humor that seamlessly ties together his views into a readable book. He shrugs at incidents where he had to bribe customs officials and security guards, turning to humor; perhaps reflecting on his Indian background where such incidents are par for the course. In his narrative, the author also attempts to review the geopolitical and economic aspects of the countries he visited.

Sunil makes a point of ‘cookie cutter’ customer service he experiences at hotels and airlines, a fact that intrigues the frequent traveler in me. With all the choices of airlines, he continues to patronize Indian national carrier, Air India, more than a few times while observing its ‘declining ranking.’ Equally intriguing is the fact that Sunil, the frequent-traveler didn’t get to an ‘elite’ status with his preferred airline or hotel, which would have afforded him the “personal touch” he yearns for. (Perhaps add those tips to the next edition of the book?)

Bottomline: Transit Lounge is a nice, entertaining and readable travelogue.

[Review from a complimentary copy of the book received from the publisher.]

#BookReview – Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows: A Novel

Balli Kaur Jaswal, a writer-in-residence at the University of East Anglia and Nanyang Technological University has third novel Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows (Harper Collins/William Morrow) released internationally in March 2017.

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows: A Novel by [Jaswal, Balli Kaur] With visions of emancipating the women of the Sikh community she left behind as a self-important teenager, Nikki is shocked to find her creative writing class is a group of barely literate women who have no interest in her ideals of liberation.

To her surprise, the white dupatta of the widow hides more than just their modesty. These are women who have spent their lives in the shadows of fathers, brothers and husbands; being dutiful, raising children and going to temple, but whose inner lives are as rich and fruitful as their untold stories.

East meets west and tradition clashes with modernism in a thought-provoking cross-cultural novel that might make you look again at the women in your life

Amazon review OUR EDITOR 

The title of the book is a bit of a misnomer. While there is certainly some description of eroticism and sexual desire, Jaswal uses the theme of ‘Erotic stories’ as a catalyst for a glimpse into the imaginative minds hidden behind white dupattas of Southhall Sikh widows.

The novel begins with an introduction of the protagonist, Nikki, a law-school dropout who is trying to find her calling in life by bartending. Nikki tries to help with her sister’s matchmaking quest by making a trip to the Gurudwara in Southhall to post her matrimonial advert, and is amused to read other tacky adverts.

The author builds Nikki’s character with liberal doses of the clichéd desi issues: arranged marriage, gossip and conflicts that second-generation Non-Resident Indians face while trying to meet their parent’s expectations of life and career choices.


Those like me into this genera will find this an enjoyable East-West Mix.

Book Review: Read Rudyard Kipling’s classics for Free (Kindle eBooks)

Indian Tales Kindle Edition by Rudyard Kipling

The Kindle edition of this book is now available for Free download (as of October 2017)

IndianTales Joseph Rudyard Kipling was an English short-story writer, poet, and novelist, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1907. His children’s books are classics of children’s literature and his books include The Jungle Book and the Just So Stories. Kipling’s classics have been required reading for generations of Indian students.

This eBook was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web.

 

Review by our Editor  on Amazon: “Read Kipling’s classics for Free!” 

This is a great read, especially since it is available for Free download!”

This collection includes the following Kipling short-stories

  • The finest story in the World
  • With the Main Guard
  • Wee Willie Winkie
  • The Rout of the White Hussars
  • At Twenty-Two
  • The courting of Dinah Shadd
  • The story of Muhammad Din
  • In Flood time
  • My own true ghost story
  • The Big drunk Draf’
  • By Word of Mouth
  • The Drums of the Fore and Aft
  • The sending of Dana Da
  • On the City Wall
  • The broken-link handicap
  • On Greenhow Hill
  • To be filled for reference
  • The man who would be king
  • The Gate of Hundred Sorrows
  • The Incarnation of Krishna Mulvaney
  • His Majesty the King
  • The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jukes
  • In the House of Suddhoo
  • Black Jack
  • The taking of Lungtungpen
  • The Phantom Rickshaw
  • On the strength of a Likeness
  • Private Learoyd’s Story
  • Wesssley of the Foreign office
  • The solid Muldoon
  • The Three Musketeers
  • Beyond the Pale
  • The god from the Machine
  • The daughter of the Regiment
  • The madness of private Ortheris
  • L’envoi

Book Review: Kindle eBooks of Indian origin

Here are a couple of Kindle eBooks that are currently FREE for download on Amazon.com

Amish Tripathi’s Raavan (A Preview): Orphan of Aryavarta

Raavan (A Preview): Orphan of Aryavarta by [Tripathi, Amish] Book Blurb:

3400 BCE, India

The mighty Lord of Lanka, Raavan, sets out to avenge the insult of his sister, Shurpanakha at the hands of the younger prince of Ayodhya, Lakshman. Aware that the Ayodhya royal trio are in exile he flies to Dandakaranya in the Lankan military aircraft, the Pushpak Vimaan. His mission? To capture the Vishnu.

For far will Raavan go to seek revenge?

Review by our Editor  on Amazon: “Nice preview” 

I downloaded this free-kindle version of the ‘booklet’ from Amish Tripathi hoping it was a novella. The author’s note in the first section clarifies “This booklet is being distributed only among a select few. If you are reading this, you are one of those who get a peek into the story I am still writing!”

The booklet of few pages is certainly readable and perhaps a taste of the book-3 – Orphan of Aryavarta.

Maha-bharata The Epic of Ancient India Condensed into English Verse

Maha-bharata The Epic of Ancient India Condensed into English Verse by [Dutt C.I.E., Romesh C.] Book Blurb:

This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers.

You may find it for free on the web.

Review by our Editor  on Amazon  “Nice, readable translation of a great epic”

Ramayana and Mahabarata are classic Indian epics that have been studied, translated and transcribed for generations. This kindle version is yet another addition to the wide selection out there and should be useful for English speaking readers interested in Mahabharata.

Book Review: ‘Hit Refresh’ by Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella

This is not yet another CEO’s ghost written tome

It is almost customary of tech CEO’s to write a book to to clarify their viewpoints, and also to solidify their personal legacies. The new book by Indian born CEO of tech giant Microsoft, Satya Nadella, does just this.

Indians, Indian-Americans and NRIs have been closely watching the ascend of Indian born technologists like Satya Nadella and Sundar Pichai to top of multinational tech companies. There are several nuggets of wisdom that readers are sure to glean from Satya Nadella’s new book.

Amazon book review by our editor,

Not yet another CEO’s ghost written tome ! 

It is a time-honed tradition among tech CEO’s and executives to pen down a biography. The intent is generally multifold – to use it as a vehicle to clarify their viewpoints, and also to solidify their personal legacies. Nadella’s book follows the pattern of his mentor Bill Gates’ bestseller “Business @ the Speed of Thought” that tried to make sense of the seismic changes during the earlier dot.com era. This book takes us through Microsoft’s transformation through the digital-cloud era.

Hit Refresh, as the title suggests, is Nadella’s attempt to take us through his company’s ongoing transformation to ‘refresh’ the strategy, and his quest to “Rediscover Microsoft’s Soul.” A soul that essentially encompasses everything from the culture to competitive landscape and industry partnerships. Of course, corporate watchers and researchers are bound to wonder if a company really has a “soul.”

As a blogger who continually pursues South Asian ‘success stories,’ I have been following Nadella’s journey and his ascend to the top of American multinational is an inspiration to a generation of Indian Americans. In the book, Nadella takes us through the journey in his own words: from his childhood in India to the CEO of a Tech giant, that makes for an interesting read.

The book concludes with Nadella’s vision for the coming wave of digitization and explores its potential impact on society. Techies and students of business strategy are sure to find nuggets of insights in the book.


Bottomline: Nadella gives writer Greg Shaw full credit as a co-author – and the tone and themes in the chapters certainly reflect that of Microsoft’s leader.

According to the blurb, this is an attempt by Microsoft’s CEO to take us through

“the inside story of the company’s continuing transformation, tracing his own personal journey from a childhood in India to leading some of the most significant technological changes in the digital era. As much a humanist as engineer and executive, Nadella concludes with his vision for the coming wave of intelligent technologies and a distinct call to action for leaders everywhere. Hit Refresh is about individual change, about the transformation happening inside of Microsoft and the technology that will soon impact all of our lives–the arrival of the most exciting and disruptive wave of technology humankind has experienced: artificial intelligence, mixed reality, and quantum computing.It’s about how people, organizations, and societies can and must transform “hit refresh” in their persistent quest for new energy, new ideas, and continued relevance and renewal. At its core, it’s about us humans and how our one unique quality–empathy–will become ever more valuable in a world where technological advancement will disrupt the status quo as never before. Satya Nadella explores a fascinating childhood before immigrating to the US and how he learned to lead along the way.”


Book Review “I Do What I Do” – Does a green card make you less Indian?

Does a green card make you less Indian?

Names like Raghuram Rajan, Arvind Pangariya et al. are role models for the global Indian diaspora. They also happen to be globalized intellectuals with impeccable credentials, stellar education backed by real world experience.

Former Governor of the Indian Reserve bank, Raghuram Rajan (wikipedia) has decided to speak out his legacy of 3 years in India with the launch of his recent book “I Do What I Do.”  One aspect that continues to resurface in the media is the question of his “Indianness,” which is attributable to the fact that he has spent much of his working life abroad.

Questions on his “Indianness,” sometimes puts the an otherwise articulate intellectual, Mr. Rajan on the defensive. This continues to be a part of the rhetoric despite his impeccable educational credentials that include a bachelors degree from the prestigious IIT Delhi and an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad. Having a global background like these also means they are unencumbered by trivialities like visas and immigration restriction that may apply to rest of the junta.

The book has received a lot of media hype in India though the global Amazon.com website has a couple of reviews. Extract of the Amazon Review from our editor:

Former Governor of the Indian Reserve bank, Raghuram Rajan has decided to speak out about his legacy of 3 years in India with the launch of his recent book “I Do What I Do.”  

After browsing through the book, I am left wondering about the media hype the book launch received in India. The book is a compilation of his public speeches with a preface and notes added to clarify and explain his thinking during the period. Mr. Ranaj received a superstar welcome on his recent homecoming for the book-launch and has received sufficient media airtime that he has leveraged craftily.

You should consider buying a copy of the book only if you need a handy reference to Mr Rajan’s speeches; else you are better off referencing these speeches from the public domain on the web.

Other book reviews and media references: