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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Sattvik Foods of India by Anupama Shukla




Sattvik Foods of India by Anupama Shukla is a cookbook with a difference. As the first word in the title of the book reads ‘sattvik’ – one can easily get it that it is a vegetarian cookbook. The book revolves round the idea ‘we are what we eat’. But, in today’s fast paced life we have forgotten the importance of food in our life – we just have food to fill our hungry bellies. We tend not to give much importance to the nourishment factor which eventually disturbs the natural balance in our body and pushes it towards illness. 
 
This book is not just a collection of recipes – it also dwells on the basics of why having the right kind food is essential for one’s physical and mental well being. The author very much believes in how Ayurveda explains the science of food. Before she begins dishing out delicious recipes, she briefly explains the Panchamahabhutas – the building blocks for every single thing in this world. She tells us about their relationship with the human body. We also get to know about the three ‘doshas’ that can affect a human body and ultimately how the ‘Prana’ in sattvik food can alleviates the negativity of the doshas. Every human being can have a different body constitution – so if we can understand our body type, we will be in a better position to choose the right balance in the food we consume. The best part is that the author has summed up the basics in just a few pages. So, my advice is before you jump to the recipe section of the book, do go through the first few pages – it will help you in appreciating the recipes better.

The recipe section of the book is divided into certain segments. Right from breakfast, lunch, dinner, beverages, condiments and festive recipes are covered. If you were under the impression that sattvik food can be nourishing but not as delicious, this book is going to going to make you reconsider that thought. Some of my personal favorite recipes in the book include Aam ka Panha, Thandai, Chaas, Moong Anardana Salad, Paneer Pakora, Bhel Puri, Panchmel Dal, Bhara Paratha, Shrikhand, Rabdi and Til Patti. The book has over 70 recipes to please different tastes and palates. It showcases the fact that sattvik food can be tasty, colorful, nourishing and varied. The recipes are written in a simple and easy to follow language. There is an introduction to every recipe and notes where needed to assist the reader. Here I would like to add that it would have been useful to add the number of serving each recipe makes.

The illustrator Suhita Mitra has done a great job with the numerous illustrations in the book. But, still I missed seeing pictures of the final dishes. A few pictures in between the pages could have made the book look more appealing and attractive – after all we all eat with our eyes first.

Overall, it is a nice cookbook - one that doesn't just give out recipes but also educates us about the importance of eating the right kind of food for a healthy body and a sound mind.

I received a free review copy of the book from the Leadstart Publishers in lieu of an honest review.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Gods, Demons and People of Kunhimangalam by Sunil Kumar K N ~ A Book Review


This space has been silent and deserted for months now. Well, I have no excuses – it is just that whenever I think about penning down thoughts about a book I read or a recipe I tried, words do not pour out. I think I am going through an extreme case of blogger’s block (or is it writer’s block?). Anyways, so what am I doing here today? Well, I accepted a book review request from Leadstart Publishers and I am going to rant about the same here. I must apologize to them first as I took ages to read and review the book.

The Gods, Demons and People of Kunhimangalam by Sunil Kuman KN is an unusual book for me to pick up – to be frank it is not the kind of genre I frequently read. But, I just wanted to read something different, something intriguing and something that is not run-of-the-mill. Well, I think the book mostly fits the bill – but still there is something missing.

Kunhimangalam is the name of a small village located in the Kannur district of Kerala. The author through his book takes you on a journey by chronicling the various folklore, old tales and historical events associated with the place. Every chapter in the book takes you through a different story – each with its own flavour – some are rich in myths, some tell you about the traditions of the place and some dwell on the historical happenings that shaped its destiny. But, there is a problem in the way things are narrated – I did feel the flow of the book was not smooth and it didn’t connect with the readers as it should. After I was done with one part, I didn’t feel the tenacity to read the next part right away. I do feel if the legends and tales of the place were interwoven with a fictional story, it would have made a more interesting read.

To sum up my opinion on the book - it makes for a good slow read for those who are interested in knowing about the legends and folklore of not-so-popularly-known places in the country. I do admire and commend the author for his choice of premise and the efforts he has made for his debut book.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Demons of Chitrakut by Ashok Banker - A Book Review




This book and the next book in the series (Armies of Hanuman) have been with me for over 4 years now. I don’t know what took me so long to read this one especially when I totally loved reading the first two books of the series. I get lesser time to read these days and after not reading a single page for days at a stretch, I started longing to read something. That’s when I decided to read the books that have been sitting on my shelf untouched for long.

Ashok Banker has weaved magic through his books on mythology. In his Ramayana series, he has taken the liberty to use his own imagination and innovative story telling in narrating the epic saga. So, prospective readers keep in mind that this is not the so-called original version but a somewhat spiced up version of Ramayana. The author has made the reading experience a lot more dramatic. 

The previous book of this series concluded with Rama using ‘Brahma Astra’ to annihilate the Asura army that were all set to attack the city of Mithila. In this book, the story progresses further. Rama and his newly wedded wife Sita are welcomed in Ayodhya in all pomp and glory. While the citizens are all jubilant there is something not right in the palace – Asura sorcery is at play and it will have damning consequences for Rama. The reader is likely to be transported right into the happening in the streets of Ayodhya as he leafs through the pages of the book. 

The problems of the prince Rama are going to get a new height – a scheming Manthara has got the lust-laden Keikayi in control and soon Rama would leave the royal palace and head to live in the forest in exile for 14 years. The beauty of the book is that even though most Indian readers already have an inkling of what happens in Ramayana, they look forward to see how the author is going to narrate it. There is so much action happening in the book that the reader in you would want to set aside all works and continue with book.

However, this book is not without its share of flaws. There are parts in the book, where it seems that the author has gone overboard in describing the details of an incident and there are parts which seems rushed upon. For example, the demise of Manthara has been written in details but the passing away of Dasaratha were described in a few lines. Also, at times the narration in the book faltered. I would have liked it better if the pace of storytelling did not vary too much. 

Another thing that kept me reading the book was to find out about the demons of the Chitrakut. As it is the title of the book, I was hoping that they would be central to this book in some way. However, it is only near the very end of the book does the reader get introduced to these demons. Where and how – it is something you will know when you read the entire book.

Even though I can go on and on about what await you in the book, I sincerely think that you should better read it to find out more. Even with all its flaws, it is a great read and will keep any mythology lover hooked.

I am also finished with the book 4 of the series – Armies of Hanuman and will write about it soon. So, stay tuned and happy reading.

Thank you for stopping by. Cheers!


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