Posted in Fiction, My Bibliothèque, Romance, Women's Fiction

{ Book Review } – Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge

Jane of Austin: A Novel of Sweet Tea and SensibilityJane of Austin: A Novel of Sweet Tea and Sensibility by Hillary Manton Lodge

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Jane of Austin is a wonderful, contemporary spin on Jane Austin classic ‘Sense and Sensibility’.Jane and Celia Woodward find themselves uprooted from their recently settles lives running a tea shop in San Francisco due to unforeseen circumstances. In the aftermath of their father’s business scandal, they again face a sad prospect of disturbing their barely settled lives and are forced to move to Austin, Texas. The duo packs up their kid sister Margot and Jane’s tea plants, determined to start over yet again. They do so grudgingly, but the developments in their lives are not all smooth, When Jane meets and falls for up-and-coming musician Sean Willis, the relationship between the sisters’ strains which is surprising considering how they have held on to each other all these difficult years. Also attracted to Jane is retired Marine Captain Callum Beckett. Callum never meant to leave the military, but he holds back his feelings because of his disability and also certain personal circumstances, he is bitter about his return not just because of his scars from the war but also the scars of his past.

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Posted in Fiction, My Bibliothèque, Romance

{ Book Review } – A Man called Ove by Fredrik Backman !

A Man Called OveA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Call Ove ( pronounced as a soft ‘ooh’ + ‘ve’ as in vegetarian, it tried my best but I am not so good with Swedish pronunciation ) a curmudgeon, a grumbler, or a Grinch, but I bet he will have you loving him like your own loved one by the end of this book. Because he is the Grinch with a “large” heart (both literally as well as metaphorically). This book is full of dry humour and dull prose for most of the part, both of which I stay away from when I select books. I know it is not a very good analogy, but the prose in the book reminds me of Ikea furniture, straight lines, right angles and simple form. It is most definitely not an easy book to start. You might want to give up after a couple of chapters, but if you persist, you are in for a treat. Midway in the book, the curmudgeon will stop appearing irritating to you, I promise. Instead, he becomes someone you are scared of turning into as you grow old. And by then, it will make you hug your loved ones tighter, that’s guaranteed.

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Posted in Dystopia, My Bibliothèque

{ Book Review } – The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood !

The Handmaid's TaleThe Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This has been a difficult book for me to finish, took me quite a long time to finish. I suspected as much, and therefore, instead of reading it on my own, I read it with a Book Club / Facebook Group. The thing is, I rarely pick up a book which is outside my comfort zone, by which, I mean that I mostly pick up books which comfort me, make me feel happy. If I pick it up, there is no guarantee that I will finish it. And I knew that this wasn’t the feel-good kind of book I choose most of the time. I might have put it down out of the sadness that this book brings, but reading with a group brings a wafer thin layer of accountability, and so I persisted.
The book is odd. Not in the sense that it’s overly complex or uses obnoxious or pretentious language, but rather in the sense that it is scary and emotionally taxing from a woman’s perspective. It is set in a Dystopian state of Gilead. There are too many adjectives that one can throw here – Dystopian, futuristic, dark and worryingly prophetic.

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Posted in Gujarati Literature, My Bibliothèque

{ Book Review } – Krishnayan by Kajal Oza Vaidya !

KrishnayanKrishnayan by Kaajal Oza-Vaidya

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don’t know why but I felt like reading a book in my mother tongue, Gujarati, and so after minimal scouting, I picked this up thanks to rave reviews from friends. Krishnayan is in a way, a retelling of a lifetime that Lord Vishnu spends walking this earth as a mortal. It mainly focuses on his relationships with the three important women in this life, Radha, Rukmini and Draupadi. And yet, most surprisingly, the relationship between a middle-aged Radha and her teenage daughter in law is my favourite, despite being only briefly described. The good thing about the book is that it doesn’t attempt to paint pictures of what happened in Mahabharata for the reader. It rather deals with a wide range of human emotions of love, desire, jealousy, dissatisfaction and finally settles on talking about a sense of detachment that Krishna aims to develop. If you are looking for what happened, how it happened and why it happened, you might be in for some disappointment.

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Posted in Fiction, My Bibliothèque, Mythology, Women's Fiction

{ Book Review } – The Rise of Sivagami by Anand Neelakantan !

The Rise of Sivagami (Baahubali: Before the Beginning, Book 1)The Rise of Sivagami by Anand Neelakantan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Have you come across books which are pure temptation? I mean, I knew that the book I was then reading, A Man called Ove, was a much better book in all respect, but somehow, was rendered helpless against the lure of this one. 😬 I am a Bahubali fan, not a supremely crazy one, but a fan nonetheless. So, I bought this after a brief wait. The miser than I am, I usual don’t buy new releases, but then it was Bahubali. I started the book with the misconception that it would start at the birth of Sivagami, and merge with the story at the beginning of the movie. A little later I learnt that is a part of trilogy that maps the kingdom of Mahishmathi, as a extension of the Bahubali universe. The story begins with a young Sivagami and you suddenly notice all the streaks of the character in the movie. ( Although I admit, I just kept seeing an image of Ramya, younger, I don’t think I can separate that from the character, just yet ). From a childhood where she witnesses her father being awarded a death sentence for treason, to a teenaged orphan, the transition is subtle and natural. However, she is not the fundamental character of the book.

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Posted in Breakfast, Recipes

Whole Moong and Brown Rice Idlis

Of late, I haven’t been able to make freshly cooked Indian breakfasts like I used to do until a couple of months ago. When I did this 100HappyBreakfasts Project on Instagram, I was reasonably regularly if not fully. But I have fallen off the wagon recently.  So in a desperate attempt to get back to the routine, I have started with these Whole Moong and Brown Rice Idlis.

Moong Idlis have been on my mind for a while now, but most recipes available on the internet use Eno / fruit salt to make them light and fluffy. While I don’t mind using eno/soda occasionally in my Rava Idlis and Rava Dhoklas, I most definitely wanted to avoid it here, we prefer the fermented idlis and dosas any day over the instant ones. Feel free to add more rice than what I have used here, I was experimenting a bit, trying to see if I can make do with less rice. Idli Rice and regular polished rice will work just as well. My next attempt would be to try and see if it ferments just as well without Urad Daal next time. 😊  More on how I prepare my regular Idli/Dosa Batter is described in detail here.

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Posted in Dips, Raitas and Sides, Recipes, Traditional Gujarati Recipes

Gujarati Keri Kanda ni Chutney!

Mangoes and summers go pretty much hand in hand, right? Summers mean vacations, trips to grandparents’, pickles, aamras and pretty much everything that makes one happy. And that has to include food to make it complete. We all know from the bottom of our hearts that our moms and grandmoms create magic in their kitchens, but I am equally amazed at the sheer variety of curries and condiments they serve on a platter. I believe that while curries and mains make up a meal, the condiments, pickles and the sides make it satisfying. They also make meal times exciting, I have always had a particular pickle/preserve/chutney that I would look forward to on my plate depending on the season. Now, that we have started to chat about condiments and summer, mangoes cannot be far away.

I am sure there must be a variant of the quintessential mango chutney in every state with a tweak of an ingredient here and there. We Gujaratis make it because consuming it protects one against the harsh warm winds that are common in the sweltering heat of a Gujarati summer. Or so my Baa ( my paternal grandma) says. She makes it every couple of days, more like, as soon as the previous batch is consumed, and take my word for it, it’s not more than a couple of days. I also like this version for its simplicity. A couple of commonplace ingredients and no cooking involved. My mom makes it with the first Totapuri mangoes of the season, which are vibrant parrot green in colour ( I think, the mix of tartness and sweetness of this variety of mangoes suits this chutney the most, but feel free to use any variety you might find locally ). Mangoes, onions and a few day-to-day ingredients, a little bit of grating, sprinkling and mixing, and viola! The chutney is here.

One of the Gujarati summer staples – Keri Kanda ni Chutney ( Raw Mango and Onion Chutney or Relish or Salsa whatever ) ! Now, since summers and mangoes have a close association, I am sure there must be a variant of this condiment in every state with a tweak of an ingredient here and there. We Gujaratis make it because consuming it protects one against the harsh warm winds that are common in the sweltering heat of a Gujarati summer. Or so my Baa ( my paternal grandma) says. She makes it every couple of days, more like, as soon as the previous batch is consumed, and take my word for it, it's not more than a couple of days. I haven't got my bearings back, I have a mountain of laundry to do, and I am still a zombie but I had to make this amazing yet easy peasy chutney this morning, because the visit home and a taste of the harsh summer made me crave this chutney so so much! 😍 I also like this for it's simplicity. A couple of common place ingredients and no cooking involved. My mom makes it with the first Totapuri mangoes of the season, which are vibrant parrot green in colour ( I think, the mix of tartness and sweetness of this variety of mangoes suits this chutney the most ), and peels and grates them. For one Totapuri Mango, she grates a large onion, and mixed them. Then, in goes jaggery ( sugar doesn't bring the same flavour but will work okay if you are in a hurry ), 1/2 tsp of black salt aka સંચળ in Gujarati, 1/2 tsp of cumin powder and 1/2 tsp chilli powder ( I prefer Kashmiri, because I look for colour and not the heat ). Add enough jaggery to balance the tartness of mangoes. Mix well and let it stand for a few minutes allowing the juices to secrete and the flavours to combine. Use as desired. But I would highly recommend not making it in big batches ( I stick to 1 Mango + 1 onion quantity) because one it has a short shelf life and two, if it gets too runny sitting for a long time, it doesn't taste the same. #kerikandanichutney #rawmangochutney #indianchutneys #indiansummer #picklenation #rawmango

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