Book giveaway alert!!! Read till the end…
When I review a book or a movie, I try to be as impersonal and objective as possible. However, for this book, I would make an exception and start with a personal story.
Once upon a time, a young lady called Sandeepa, in far away New Jersey was at the crossroads of career, motherhood and culture. She started a food blog called “Bong Mom’s Cookbook”. She was anxious to leave a legacy of Bengali culture and tradition through food recipes for her daughters. Her only incentive was that one day her daughters would grow up and cook those recipes and fill their kitchens with the same aroma that filled her warm kitchen. Thus, diligently she started posting on her blog about various Bengali recipes along with stories about her childhood, her parents, grandparents, her home in Kolkata and the hills where she grew up.
Almost a decade ago, back here in India, another young woman (yours truly) was also at the crossroads of career and impending motherhood. One night, this woman had a pregnancy induced craving for “shukto” (a Bengali bitter version of Malayalee avial) that her departed mother used to make. Strangely when her mother was alive she never liked Shukto and never bothered to learn the recipe. But now that the mother was no more, she was desperately craving for that particular food (pregnancy hormones to be blamed). She decided to find the recipe and make it herself.
She called her grandmother and couple of aunts; everyone gave their own version of the recipe. She figured out that they were different from her Mom’s recipe. Then she tried making it from the book of Bela Dey, a famous Bengali food author. The shukto turned out a “politically correct” version with all the proper ingredients and exact measurements but strangely it didn’t taste like the one her mother used to make. She felt frustrated. In her exasperation she did a Google search and came across the recipe on a blog by someone who claimed to be a Bong Mom.
Next day, she made shukto exactly the way it was mentioned on the blog. With steamed rice she took the first morsel and Bingo!! It tasted exactly like the one her Ma used to make. For a moment she felt that her Ma had cooked it for her.
This was the beginning of a journey between a blogger and a reader. The blogger started sharing her life and recipes on her blog and the reader lapped up every bit of it. The blogger was an unknown woman in a foreign land yet someone she could absolutely relate. Her stories had such a nostalgic appeal that the reader almost got addicted. The reader was never an ardent cook but the recipes that the blogger posted had a strange appeal that forced the reader to try them so many times. Thank you Bong Mom.
About the Book
When I started reading Sandeepa’s second book “Those Delicious Letters”, I found an uncanny resemblance to my journey with Bong Mom. In the book, forty year old Shubhalaxmi starts receiving monthly letters with traditional Bengali recipes from a mysterious lady in Calcutta claiming to be her grandmother. Drawn by the nostalgia in the letters and lured into the delicious world of forgotten food, Shubha starts experimenting with the recipes.(In my case they were blog posts from an unknown woman from a distant land).
The protagonist Subhalaxmi is an extremely relatable character. She almost represents our entire generation where we all are trying to wear too many hats and balance them. She has her own vulnerabilities and idiosyncrasies. The humor in the book would keep the readers hooked. There is hardly any page that would bore you or fail to amuse you. The letters from the woman, who refers herself as Didan, tells the story of a bygone era.
Traipsing through a year filled with delicious food and memories, Shubha tackles heartbreaks, marriage, parenting, adventure and a failing business, with wit and élan. Does Shubha find out who writes her those letters? Can she save her marriage and business? What happens to the grandmother who shares her life and food through those letters? A rich tapestry of rediscovering love and family while straddling two continents, peppered with humor, colorful characters and lip-smacking food! The added bonus are the recipes at the end of each chapter. The recipe of hinger kochuri was so enticing that I woke up at 12 am to soak the urad daal.
As promised at the beginning, I am going to give away a free copy of the book “Those Delicious Letters” by Sandeepa Mukherjee Datta. You just have to answer the following questions. The best answer would win a free copy.
*****conditions:: The contest is only for readers in India.
- Do you love to cook?
2. What or who inspires you to cook?
3. Name your favourite recipe from your mom’s or grand-mom’s kitchen?
Name of the book: Those Delicious Letters
Author: Sandeepa Mukherjee Datta
Publisher: Harper Collins India
Download the free first Chapter
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