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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Picture of the day: Public Toilets for Transgenders #LGBT

India is a country of contradictions and diversity. The title of a Washington Post article sums it up best: India has outlawed homosexuality. But it’s better to be transgender there than in the U.S. (link)

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Picture of Toilet for Transgenders in a Public Bus stand in Bangalore

 

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.

Newton: Is India’s Oscar movie entry

‘Newton’ will be India’s official entry to the Best Foreign Film catgory at the Oscars next year, says a Film Federation of India official.

The Amit Masurkar movie, starring Rajkummar Rao, Pankaj Tripathi, Raghubir Yadav and Anjali Patil, tells the story of polling officer Newton Kumar, who is bent on conducting free and fair elections in the conflict-ridden jungles of Chhattisgarh.

 

What’s the movie Newton about?

According to IMDB “A government clerk on election duty in the conflict ridden jungle of Central India tries his best to conduct free and fair voting despite the apathy of security forces and the looming fear of guerrilla attacks by communist rebels.”

Some reviewers are declaring Newton to be “one of the finest political satires we have seen in the last couple of years. It refrains from taking sides and offers a humorous take on state versus the Maoists bloody battle.” (HT)

A bit of controversy about the movie:

By Saturday, some people on social media started talking about the similarities between Newton and Iranian film “Secret Ballot”.

Both the films have a protagonist who wants to conduct a free and fair election. It’s Rajkummar Rao in Newton and a female election officer in Secret Ballot. They both are accompanied by a soldier rather a military personnel who doesn’t have much faith in the electoral system.

 

 

Yoga for Kids in America

Yoga is being promoted for holistic, well being. People in India are taking to Yoga in a big way for a number of reasons: to beat the stress of daily life and grind.

The concept of Yoga is also being promoted for holistic healing in the West.  You may be interested in checking out GaramChai.com Yoga section.  Here is a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) of interest:

Why should kids do yoga?
Yoga is a technology and technology is for everyone & anyone.  Scientific research & evidence is rising daily for what many have long said: that a practice like meditation and yoga can help us address many issues that our society is facing.  It’s a technology whose benefits are innumerable when applied and learnt from an authentic source.

A few of several benefits for kids to do yoga:

  • Concentration: Kids learn to focus on their breath during meditation. They learn to
    tune into what’s happening on the inside rather than focusing on what’s happening
    on the outside. This tremendously helps them in reading, taking tests, completing
    homework, and gets them ready for tasks that are required both at school and at
    home. And enables them to tap into their creativity.
  • It’s FUN: A kid’s body is more open and receptive. Children who are introduced to
    yoga at an earlier age have access to some distinct advantages as they grow up and
    move through life. Yoga helps them to become more joyful. They learn that
    everyone falls and everyone gets up. There is no competition.
  • Enhances flexibility: Yoga promotes physical strength as kids learn to use their
    muscles in new ways. It helps the kids to become more aware of their body and
    helps them build a deeper understanding of knowing how it functions.
  • Self-acceptance: Kids will learn to cherish and accept themselves as they are. We all  live in a society which is becoming extremely competitive, so it has become very
    common to send messages of inadequacy, yoga teaches kids to stay with stable
    foundation and have the clarity and energy to be competitive & yet not stress over
    its outcome.

All this understanding & more, automatically comes to them from their own experience while doing the practice. If given an opportunity for them to learn the scientifically proven ancient yogic  practices & meditation – kids will naturally have the tools to fight the increasing  feelings of self-doubt, inadequacy that come during the years and beyond.

Reading:


 

You may also be interested in YOGA NEBULA

Upcoming Children Program
Start: August 19 @ 9:00 am  || End: August 20 @ 12:30 pm  || Cost: $200
Contact: Samir Lal / contact@yoganebula.com / 201-696-7597

kidsYogaProgram

“Our classes at Yoga Nebula are taught with great care and precision to create a  conducive atmosphere for learning the subtle science of Hatha Yoga in New York City/New Jersey. Taught in an intimate group setting, classes are designed to  gradually introduce students to yoga practices through verbal instruction and  demonstrations. We also feature informative videos that provide intellectual insight  into the processes taking place. Unlike many modern yoga studios, we avoid playing  music, using mirrors or props, talking while demonstrating, or physically touching participants during the classes. Many students comment on the depth of their  experience as a direct result of this inward oriented teaching format.”

Hatha Yoga stems from a deep understanding of the mechanics of the body, and uses
yogic postures, or yogasanas, to enable the system to sustain higher dimensions of
energy. By practicing this profound science, one can change and enhance the way they
think, feel, and experience life. Hatha Yoga is about creating a body that is not a hurdle
in your life. The body becomes a stepping-stone in the progress towards blossoming
into your ultimate possibility. Developed by globally-renowned yogi, humanitarian and enlightened master, Sadhguru, the Isha™ Hatha School of Yoga has been established to revive the ancient science of Hatha Yoga, with programs taught to millions worldwide.
“Hatha Yoga is about creating a body which is not a hurdle in one’s life. The
body becomes a stepping stone … in one’s progress of blossoming into his
ultimate possibility.” – Sadhguru

Drive East 2017 — Indian Classical Dance & Music Festival in NYC — Aug 21-27

A gathering of Indian storytellers share perspectives through diverse forms of Indian Classical Dance and Music: 50+ artists from all over the world come together to New York City for Drive East 2017

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August 8, 2017: New York, NY: This August will see its fifth Drive East festival in Manhattan, from August 21 – 27, 2017. Promising to have an even more impactful and immersive experience this year, Navatman sets off its week long Indian performing arts festival at Dixon Place on the Lower East Side. While usually at LaMama, the intimacy of Dixon Place serves to accentuate a sense of inclusiveness and immersiveness as soon as you enter the space, making it an ideal venue for the to view and experience all the nuances of Indian classical dance and music. From widely acclaimed stalwarts to lesser known gems, Navatman bring NYC 20+ concerts in Indian classical dance and music.

“This year, Drive East’s curation has been a little more nuanced. For instance, our four bharatanatyam performers each come from vastly different styles, allowing the patron to understand some of the more delicate nuances of the form. On the other hand, every kathak performance features guest and collaborative artists – such as Jin Won working with Korean Drums, and Rachna Nivas and Rina Mehta of Leela Dance collective working with tap. Some nights are intended to give you a more traditional feel, like the solos on Tuesday evening, and others are intended on showing the more unique aspects of Indian dance and music such as Saturday night’s artists Rajasthani Caravan, Devdutta Sengupta, and Battery Dance Company. – Sahasra Sambamoorthi, founder and co-curator of Drive East and Navatman

In addition to the 20+ concerts, there are a slew of smaller events: rangoli designs that are planned to adorn the festival steps, official artist meet and greets post each performance, free storytelling sessions on Hindu mythology for families, and advanced intensives for adults in the mornings. Each day brings more than just the concert, but an immersive experience that takes you through every performance.

“We are excited to move to a space that really allows a lot of intimacy between the performer and the viewer. Every year, we’d get feedback that people really loved seeing the shows where the performers were no more than an arm’s length away, so we took that to heart when we decided to move to Dixon Place this year.” – Sridhar Shanmugam, founder and co-curator of Drive East and Navatman

Some of the exciting dance events this year include: the beautiful and brilliant Odissi danseuse Sujata Mohapatra who will be performing on opening night; co-founders Sridhar Shanmugam & Sahasra Sambamoorthi will be performing on stage together, Renjith & Vijna form a husband and wife duet team from Chennai, and Prince of Dance – a power-packed evening of full length concerts by male dancers that includes Christopher Gurusamy (Bharatanatyam) & Avijit Das (Kuchipudi).

This year brings an interesting mix of collaborating Indian styles with other traditional forms. We have 3 Kathak performances but each performance highlights a different aspect and commonality with another style. We have Kathak being set to Korean drums (Jin Won and Sue Yeon Park), and Kathak being juxtaposed with tap dance (Leela Dance Collective). In addition, we have rarer art forms like Manipuri (Devdutta Sengupta) gracing the stage this year.

Music brings us the eminent sarod player Aashish Khan, who will be opening the festival, and the melodious and lyrical music of sitarist Kinnar Seen. Carnatic music can be rarer to find in Manhattan, but Drive East has two soloists Shankar Ramani and Ananya Ashok, not to mention the firebrand Navatman Music Collective, one of the only carnatic choirs in the world. The brilliant Rajasthani Caravan troupe joins us from India, bringing with them unique the sights and sounds of folk music and dance.

A new addition to the festival, Navatman will also host Saturday Youth Day concerts. Youth concerts allow exceptional up and coming students trained by stalwart gurus a place in the festival as well, such as  Guitar Prasanna’s students who perform Carnatic music on electric guitars.

About Navatman:

Navatman, Inc was founded with an eye on creating a sustainable home for the South Asian arts in New York City and its surrounding neighborhoods, particularly emphasizing Indian classical music and dance. We are a game-changing organization dedicated to creating ground-breaking work in the South Asian classical performing arts in the areas of education, performance, and production. We are best known for our Manhattan-based classes, critically acclaimed productions, dynamic dance company, and stellar carnatic choir, all of which have received reviews in mainstream press including the New York Times, India Abroad, The Hindu, the Financial Times, and The Star-Ledger, to name a few. Navatman continues to see success in their goal to preserve Indian classical music and dance through democratizing these art forms by increasing their accessibility, and innovating on pre-existing business and organizational models to stay relevant, fresh and exciting.

Concert Line Up:

Monday, August 21st:

  • 7:15PM – 8:15PM Aashish Khan – Sarode Recital
  • 8:30PM – 10PM Sujata Mohapatra – Odissi Recital

Tuesday, August 22nd:

  • 6PM – 7PM Indrani Khare: Hindustani Vocal Recital
  • 7:15PM – 8:15PM Kinnar Seen – Sitar Recital
  • 8:30 – 10PM Janaki Rangarajan – Bharatanatyam Recital

Wednesday, August 23rd:

  • 6PM – 7PM Jin Won and Sue Yeon Park – Kathak Meets Korean Arts
  • 7:15PM – 8:15PM Navatman Dance, Feat. Sridhar Shanmugam – Bharatanatyam Recital
  • 8:30 – 10PM Shankar Ramani – Carnatic Vocal Recital

Thursday, August 24th:

  • 6PM – 7PM Pranamya Suri – Kuchipudi Recital
  • 7:15PM – 8:15PM Apoorva Jayaraman – Bharatanatyam Recital
  • 8:30PM – 10PM Ananya Ashok – Carnatic Vocal Recital

Friday, August 25th:

  • 6PM – 7PM Prince of Dance: Christopher Gurusamy – Bharatanatyam Recital
  • 7:15PM – 8:15PM Prince of Dance: Avijit Das – Kuchipudi Recital

Saturday, August 26th:

  • 2:30PM – 3:30PM Youth Concert Day: Shankhadip Chakraborty – Hindustani Vocal Recital
  • 3:45PM – 4:45PM Youth Concert Day: Carnatic Power – Carnatic Guitar Recital
  • 6PM – 7PM Rare Arts of India: Devdutta Sengupta Ghosh – Manipuri Recital
  • 7:15PM – 8:15PM Battery Dance Company – The Durga Project featuring Unnath Hassan Rathnaraju,  sponsored by State bank of India
  • 8:30PM – 10PM Rajasthani Caravan – Rajasthani Folk Music & Dance Recital

Sunday, August 27th:

  • 2:00PM – 3:30PM Navatman Music Collective – Carnatic Choir Recital
  • 3:45PM – 4:45PM Rachna Nivas and Rina Mehta of the Leela Dance Collective with guest artist Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards – Kathak Recital
  • 4PM – 5PM Renjith & Vijna – Bharatanatyam Duet Recital

Educational Events:

  • August 21 – August 25: 5PM – 5:30PM – Free storytelling sessions on Indian mythology for children
  • August 26: 12:30PM – 2:30PM – Saturday Youth Day

You may also be interested in checking out Garamchai.com ‘s Art and Culture section with extensive listings of Indian Dance and Music academies around North America

Swastika symbol and Hindu culture

Here is a recent query from a visitor to GaramChai.com 

I have a glass beaded necklace . I’m told it could be Hindu but what throws me off is the swaski. I ‘m also told that it was made long before Hitler. What are your thought on it. It has a beautiful peacock on it. – Patricia D. 

Swastika1

Response from our editor follows

Hi Patricia,
Thanks for checking in.

Yes, this is likely to be a Hindu necklace with the swastika symbol. The symbol is widely used in Hindu culture. Check out the following link to Wikipedia

The swastika (as a character 卐 or 卍) is an ancient religious symbol used in the Indian subcontinent, East Asia and Southeast Asia. It is also an icon widely found in human history and the modern world.

The swastika is an important Hindu symbol. The word is ancient, derived from three Sanskrit roots “su” (good), “asti” (exists, there is, to be) and “ka” (make) and has meant a “making of goodness” or “marker of goodness”. The icon connotes and reminds the viewer of something “conducive to well-being”, “make good”, prosperity and dharmic auspiciousness. The swastika symbol is commonly used before entrances or on doorways of homes or temples, to mark the starting page of financial statements, and mandala constructed for rituals such as weddings or welcoming a new born.

Here is a funny anecdote. We live in North Carolina and after we moved into a new house, my wife decided to mark the good-luck-swastika symbol on our front-door. Our Caucasian neighbor was alarmed and asked my wife if ‘kids‘ from the neighborhood had market the door (?!). She was genuinely concerned about a possible racial angle to this. We explained the significance of Swastika to her and had a good laugh about it.

The peacock also has a strong Indian significance and happens to be the national bird of India. (link). The image of necklace you have shared certainly looks likely to be of Indian origin. Enjoy the necklace and check out the Wikipedia post for more details about the symbol’s significance in the Hindu culture.

Regards

GaramChai.com Editor