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.

Advertisements

#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: All the Light We Cannot See

“A beautiful, stunningly ambitious novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II

Marie-Laure has been blind since the age of six. Her father builds a perfect miniature of their Paris neighbourhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. But when the Nazis invade, father and daughter flee with a dangerous secret.

Werner is a German orphan, destined to labour in the same mine that claimed his father’s life, until he discovers a knack for engineering. His talent wins him a place at a brutal military academy, but his way out of obscurity is built on suffering.

At the same time, far away in a walled city by the sea, an old man discovers new worlds without ever setting foot outside his home. But all around him, impending danger closes in.

Doerr’s combination of soaring imagination and meticulous observation is electric. As Europe is engulfed by war and lives collide unpredictably, ‘All The Light We Cannot See’ is a captivating and devastating elegy for innocence.

– Amazon’s blurb of “All the Light We Cannot See”

All the Light We Cannot See by [Doerr, Anthony]

Review from our editor, Mohan, on Amazon

I chanced on a copy of Anthony Doerr’s bestseller with a bit of trepidation: was this yet another novel about WWII? One would think that all, if not most of the stories of the great war have been reviewed and written. But no, this came across as a surprisingly refreshing epic saga.

The focus of the story, set in the five years of the world war (between 1939 and 1944) is on the lives and travails of two main characters – Marie Laure and Werner. Marie Laure is a blind 14-year-old French girl who flees from Paris to the countryside with her father who is a locksmith for a renowned museum. Werner is a radio-and-gadget-obsessed German orphan picked from his orphanage to attend an elite military school.

The strong characters will leave you reflecting on the story much after you have finished the novel. The fast paced twists and turns in the plot with engaging characters keep readers hooked through the saga.

It is not for nothing that the book received several acclaimed literary awards, including The 2015 Pulitzer Prize and The Carnegie Medal for Fiction, ending as a New York Times Bestseller

About the author: Anthony Doerr has won numerous prizes for his fiction, including the 2015 Pulitzer Prize. His most recent novel, All the Light We Cannot See, was named a best book of 2014 by a number of publications, and was a #1 New York Times Bestseller. Visit him at http://www.anthonydoerr.com.


You may also be interested in other recent book review (link) | You may also be interested in the Books section of GaramChai

Book Review: Stories from Tagore

This kindle edition of stories by Rabindranath Tagore was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. Rabindranath Tagore (1861 1941), is to the Indian subcontinent what Shakespeare is to the English-speaking world. A poet, playwright, painter, and educator, Tagore was also a mystic of great complexity and depth. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913.

Stories from Tagore by [Tagore, Rabindranath]

Review from our editor, Sujatha, on Amazon

I happened to chance on Tagore’s classic listed for Kindle’s and decided to check it out, especially since I had read some of his stories years ago. This edition of “Stories from Tagore” is a collection of classics from the master.

Novel laurate Rabindranath Tagore’s writing has shaped and transformed Indian literature, and has been an inspiration for generations. The stories in this collection cover a broad spectrum of themes and includes classics like the Cabuliwallah and Subha. These tales from generations ago which continue to enlighten contemporary readers.

About the author: Rabindranath Tagore  was a Nobel Laureate for Literature (1913) as well as one of India’s greatest poets and the composer of independent India’s national anthem, as well as that of Bangladesh. He wrote successfully in all literary genres, but was first and foremost a poet, publishing more than 50 volumes of poetry. He was a Bengali writer who was born in Calcutta and later traveled around the world. He was knighted in 1915, but gave up his knighthood after the massacre of demonstrators in India in 1919.


You may also be interested in other recent book review (link) | You may also be interested in the Books section of GaramChai

Book Review: Children’s book ‘We Are One’

‘We Are One’  is a nice book that celebrates diversity in America, especially focused on South Asian toddlers and kids.

Pinky Mukhi, like many Indian mothers in North America began fielding questions from her curious toddler. While answering the questions, the Indian American author was inspired to convert the idea into an illustrated children’s book.

Book Blurb: After Mintu invites his friends over for dinner, he decides he might have made a mistake. He thinks he’s too different from his friends and that they won’t like the same food as his family. Will his mom and friends be able to change his mind?
Sure to instill pride in children for their own food, language, and culture, We Are One is an inspiring story that will lead to a meaningful dialogue with children of all ages.ISBN: 978-1-63177-847-6

Book review:

‘We Are One’  is a nice children’s book that celebrates diversity in America, especially focused on South Asian toddlers and kids.

The protagonist in the simple story, Mintu is curious and observant, and nothing misses his eyes. He wants to be a soccer player. However, Mintu also realizes that he is different from his American friends. His parents spoke Gujarati at home and his mother made parathas .

Mintu was planning to invite his friends home and was concerned his friends would find him strange for liking parathas. “It smelled, looked, and tasted different from the foods he saw his friends eat.” The narrative builds on from this point with a nice happy ending.

Inspiration for the book

We asked the author, Pinky for her motive behind writing the book:

“I am Indian Mother of a six-year-old curious and observant boy who finds his food, language and culture different from his friends at school and discusses these differences with me at home. He also at times feels food shame. I have written this Children’s book which deals with cultural and physical differences and reveals the secret of oneness despite the differences.”

Publisher: Mascot Books  | Book’s Facebook page