Bong Mom’s Cookbook by Sandeepa Mukherjee Datta

Bong Mom's Cookbook by Sandeepa Mukherjee Datta

I was born in Bengal, so I feel a whole lot of me is Bengali. People often ask my husband, “Is your wife a Bengali?” He says, “She is not, but her soul is”. Living in Delhi for 12 years now, I miss the traditional Bengali food. Married in a Punjabi home, the smell of fish is a no-no. Though when we cook fish, it is with the chimney, the exhaust on and all the bedroom doors closed, followed by lighting candles to ward of the remnant smell. When I go mishti shopping in Delhi, the ones I want are not available, but Annapurna in Chandni Chowk is where my mishti shopping starts and ends.

The other day, I wanted to make Aloor dom in Bengali style and as I googled the word, Bong Mom’s Cookbook popped out on screen.

There were recipes and recipes. The most positive thing that I found on the blog was where she wrote that she is coming up with the cookbook next. I was browsing through flipkart and it was there that I saw the book on sale. I ordered it and very promptly, it was delivered to me the day after.

I was expecting a big cook book but what came was an easy to handle novel style book with stories and recipes intermingling with each other which you could read from anywhere. The front cover was simple and nice and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni rightly mentions on the back cover, “Authentic and enjoyable, clear and personal, studded with anecdotes that warm the heart and stir up your own memories of your favourite family recipes, Bong Mom’s Cookbook is a delight to read. The only problem; you’ll have to interrupt your reading many times to try out these mouth-watering recipes!”.

This is what I did, I started the book on Thursday night at 11.55pm, read for an hour and a half and then started it off again in the morning. Two nights later, I am done with the book, I have earmarked all the recipes and flagged them. What I did was, I skipped the recipes entirely and read through her experiences because I knew if I sat down to read the recipes, I would want to make them as well. To get a taste of the Bengali cuisine, I went to Oh! Calcutta for a buffet lunch and a stomachful of Bengali food.

Her childhood, the meatsafe in her house, the kerosene stove, the Tista river, Chholar dal narikel diye, spending vacations in grandmother’s house, sumeet mixer, Bangladeshi soaps like Dallas and Different Strokes, rotating the antenna for a better reception, taking a big packet of eclairs or orange candy to school for birthdays, tomato chaatni, aam chaatni, forbidden but tempting Miils and Boon in school are reminiscent of my childhood.

Her weekday stories of getting kids ready for school, dunking marie biscuits in tea, what would I do in a spa reflects my current status.

Sandeepa Mukherjee Datta has really presented the book very well but I missed the recipe index and beautiful colourful photographs. It was quite a pleasant read.

Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Collins, An Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers

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Oh! Calcutta Cookbook by Anjan Chaterjee

Oh! Calcutta Cookbook by Anjan Chaterjee

Oh! Calcutta Cookbook by Anjan Chatterjee, the man behind the specialty restaurants like Oh! Calcutta, Mainland China.

The book is new in many ways: the contents at the beginning of the book have only the names of the chapters but these are well detailed in the index. The index is not alphabetical but topic wise. Looking at the contents at the beginning of the book, we can actually not tell what recipes would comprise the book.

The black and white sketches are very beautiful especially, the ikka, the ambassador car and the tea set. The introduction is very impressive. The editor deserves credit for keeping the introduction as it would be typed by not justifying the alignment. It gives a very homely feel to the introduction. The ikka watermark/ footnote at the bottom of each page is very reminiscent of Calcutta. The cooking techniques have been very well illustrated at the beginning of the book.

What could have been done (my thoughts entirely):
1. The paper used for the printed instructions could have been non-glossy, it is easier to read a non-glossy paper, less strain to the eyes
2. All the recipes could have been accompanied by photographs on the corresponding sheets (glossy paper would have done well here) so that we could know what it would look like
3. Handy tips and notes could have been footnoted.

Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Random House India

My love is blind by Hiba Khan

my-love-is-blind1

My love is blind by Hiba Khan is the story of Brooke Mathews who goes halfway round the world in pursuit of her disappeared fiancé. I received the book as a review copy from Indireads. Thank you, Naheed, for the book.

The Blurb:

Brooke has fallen blindly in love with Harris Amin, a mathematics professor and a budding photographer in New York City. She firmly believes he is the man of her dreams, and when he asks her to marry him, she’s ecstatic.

When he suddenly leaves for Pakistan without an explanation, or a forwarding address, Brooke is devastated, but determined to find him.

Armed with nothing more than his family name, his brother’s place of work and his city, Brooke sets off on the journey of a lifetime to find him. But when she comes face to face with him, can her love survive the truth?

The story:

Brooke Mathews, an American works as the group head of Human Resources in a technology solutions firm, Simons.

The story starts with Brooke coming back to New York from a business trip and finds that Harris Amin, her fiancé, a Pakistani, is missing, gone without a trace, his phone is switched off and his flat empty. All she gets from his landlord is an envelope with a letter which states that he is leaving for Pakistan and would not be back and that she should forget him. The landlord tells her he does not have the address in Pakistan and remembers that the name of the place resemble the word scratchy. She suddenly realizes that though, she was engaged to him, she knows next to nothing about him, other than the fact that his brother, Irfan, works in Standard Chartered Bank in Pakistan. She just does not know what to do and when she discusses with her friends, they tell her to move on but she decides to follow him.

Once she reaches Pakistan, she starts her search only to reach a dead end every time, but does not lose hope or her perseverance.

My take:

The story is a little different than the rest and the flow is good. The romance between the characters and the concern they have for each other has been beautifully portrayed. I liked Brooke’s persistence and her determination to find Harris and also the way her friend and her mother keep an eye on her when she is in Pakistan.

Book Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

Publisher: Indireads

Format: ebook

Heartbeats by Sandhya Sridhar

Heartbeats by Sandhya Sridhar

Heartbeats is Sandhya Sridhar’s third book for Pageturn Publishers. It is the story of Suhasini and Rajan. The book is divided into three parts – each part based at a different place- Hyderabad, San Jose and a village near Hyderabad.

Suhasini Reddy, 28, the manager for events and admin solutions for SmartSoft IT, is based at Hyderabad. She is a born organizer, efficient and quick. She had no friends in school and kept to herself and now also she spends her free time with her mother Radhika, school teacher. She gets a promotion and a substantial increase in salary and moves base to Singapore and her mother winds up everything and moves to her native village near Hyderabad to manage an educational trust.

Rajan, 36, is the project lead in the software department. He is tall and bespectacled and has led a flexible life; rigidity and flexibility bores him. Born to Gujarati doctor parents, he is brought up in Mumbai till he is fifteen and then his parents moved to San Jose. After being married to Jaishree for five years, he is now divorced. He wears nondescript stuff and takes a bus to office, has no attachment to what he earns. He loves music, theatre and arts and was a part of a local band that played at pub at weekends. He is serious and self-contained. No one knows his true identity. Who is the real Rajan?

I liked the book, especially, the way the author has divided it into three parts and kept the story connected and moving.

Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Pageturn Publishers

Mishti by Yamini Prashanth

Mishti by Yamini Prashanth

Mishti is the first book written by eleven year old Yamini Prashanth. The book is a breath of fresh air in this stressful life.

Mishti is a little girl who loves being a tomboy and hates it when somebody calls her a dainty, little girl. She loves to play with boys and is better at cricket than them. She talks about her school, her neighbourhood and her friends. Her description of a car coming into their neighbourhood is very nice. My favourite was her description of the cricket match.

The cover is beautiful, happy and I wanted to pick the book up and read it as soon as I saw the cover. I loved the story and could not keep the book down till I finished it. As a rule, I do not read in a moving car, but I did. The illustrations by Yamini herself are so beautiful.

An excellent job done, Yamini.

Book source: Bought
Publisher: Unicorn Books

The edge of power by Tuhin A Sinha

The edge of power by Tuhin A Sinha

The Edge of Power by Tuhin A Sinha was a pleasant surprise that I received from Hachette India. I would like to thank Sohini Bhattacharya of Hachette India who sent me this book for review. It is the sequel to “The Edge of Desire”. The protagonist of both the books is Shruti Ranjan.

The Blurb:
The heinous gang-rape of Nirbhaya has jolted the Indian nation out of its apathy but rape and violence against women are only symptomatic of a deeper malaise that ails the nation – the total collapse of governance under the weak and vacillating prime minister, Devender Singh and his Indian Democratic Party. Ironically, aiding the ruling party to cling to power is a casual and largely indifferent Opposition led by the venal Ravi Nehra. So when activist Daivik Verma and Bollywood’s leading lady Catherine Khan decide to challenge the existing system by floating a new political party, it is seen as a ray of hope. But lack of funds and cadre-support thwarts their efforts; their only recourse now is to approach the enigmatic and reclusive Shruti Ranjan, who had sworn off politics three years earlier.

Will Nirbhaya’s gruesome rape and her subsequent death bring a disillusioned Shruti Ranjan back into the political fray? Will the land of great leaders like Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka and Akbar, finally get a dynamic Prime Minister she so badly needs?

The main characters:
Devender Singh, India’s aging Prime Minister, belongs to Indian Democratic Party (IDP).
Mukta Prajapati is IDP’s Chairperson. She is married to Rajveer Thakur, who is supposedly in real estate development.

Ravi Nehra, leader of the Opposition Jan-Hit party, has unbearable chauvinism, is a typical market driven politician and has as many vices as virtues. He has some noble intentions as well, and the positives in him often manage to camouflage the evil. He started off as a young MP from Rohtak after higher education from London, uses foul language and smokes biris. He is good looking and can go to any extent to impress a woman. He is married to Rhea Malviya and they have a three year old son, Anway, whom he dotes on. OSD Pathak is his most trusted Officer.

Rhea Malviya, Ravi Nehra’s estranged wife and the daughter of Sharad Malviya, a firm, decisive and dynamic national leader, referred to by the media as ‘the best Prime Minister that India never had’. She writes a biography on her father and launches a political party, Nationalist League (Sharad) with Shruti Ranjan. She wants to divorce her husband.

Shruti Ranjan, wife of the Deputy Commissioner of Kishanganj, Bihar, who was brutally gang raped fifteen years ago. She did not get the trust of her husband, met Sharad Malviya and her life took a new turn. She became a politician and quit both politics and public life three years ago after a humiliating incident. She is located at an ashram in Madhya Pradesh by Daivik and Catherine, who want her to come back. She is fond of Rhea and dislikes Ravi Nehra. Everyone wants her to comeback after the Nirbhaya incident.

Daivik Verma, a journalist turned activist, represents the common man with his Azad Bharat Party. He comes from a politically aware family, his grandfather is Gandhaian. He has grown all over the country, finished his schooling in Ranchi and after studying history in St Stephen’s College, Delhi and MA in Political Science from JNU. He wanted to become a documentary film maker but became a freelance journalist with a film magazine and also a political cartoonist.
Catherine Khan, has an Indian father, is a Bollywood actress, lives in Mumbai, is fighting for a divorce following a failed marriage to Armaan Kapoor and a three year old daughter, Nia. She was a British TV and Stage performer before being discovered by an Indian filmmaker. She shares a special bond with Daivik. She is the ABP spokesperson. She feels a strong connection with Subhash Chandra Bose.

The story:
The book starts with a prologue recounting the 16th December 2012 incident at Delhi and a similar incident fifteen years ago in a remote village in the Kishanganj district of Bihar. The story then moves along, keeping in mind the timeline of incidents that rocked India after 16th December 2013, till the next assembly elections.

The review:
The book has been written in a style which is fast paced making it easy to read and the flow is good. He has taken the current issues making it all the more relevant. He has given an insiders view into the world of politics, politicians and the country’s political scenario. A lot many times, while reading the book, I would try to match the book’s characters with real life politicians.

Overall, a very well researched and well written book.

Book source: Review copy from Hachette India
Publisher: Hachette India
ISBN: 9789350097045
Date of publication: December 2013
No of pages: 312

You can’t fight a royal attraction by Ruchi Vasudeva

You can’t fight a royal attraction is the second book by Indian Mills and Boon Author Ruchi Vasudeva. It can be rightly called a sequel to her first book, ‘Bollywood Fiance for a Day’, which was published by the same publisher. The book starts four years after Vishakha and Zaheer’s marriage (the main characters of the first book).

Saira Sehgal, Vishakha’s sister who had married Vishakha’s fiancé, is now 24 and divorced, after three years of playing the dutiful daughter-in-law and accommodating wife. Her parents don’t want her to stay with them and she is staying with Vishakha in Mumbai and helping with their three year old son, Aragham.

Rihaan Khehra, Zaheer’s friend, is a scriptwriter and has great respect for Zaheer and Vishakha (he calls her bhabhisa) and cares about them. He is a moody writer and an absent minded plotter. The only thing he can cook is jaggery rice. He does not talk about his childhood and his family: it is his closely guarded secret.

He suggests that Saira goes with him to his house for a weekend so that she does not trouble Vishakha and then takes her along when he goes to meet his parents.

The characters have been very well portrayed and relatable. Rihaan’s secret made me want to finish the book in one sitting. I loved the concept of a sequel to a Mills and Boon. Usually, after a story ends, we o not know what happened to the couple, but, this isn’t the case here. It was an enjoyable read and is highly recommended, becomes more interesting if you have read her first book. A good job done, Ruchi.

Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Harlequin India