Thursday, December 13, 2007

Novel Food : The Hindi Bindi Club & Mango Lassi

Some time back, when I was browsing through our local library, I saw an interesting book on the display - "The Hindi Bindi Club : A novel with recipes" by Monica Pradhan. I picked up the book without opening, thinking it's Monica Bhide. I had read Vee's article about her here.

But this is Monica Pradhan. An American daughter of an immigrant mother, herself, she has written this novel about 6 women. 3 pairs of mothers and daughters. Meenal & Kiran Deshpande, Saroj& Preity Chawla and Uma &Rani Basu-McGuiness. The three mothers are the immigrants from India. The author points out that since they migrated probably a quarter of a century back when there were not as many immigrants from a particular region, so instead of forming the regional club in pardes - foreign land, the three mothers become the closest friends, sharing their joys and sorrows, celebrating old traditions while welcoming the new changes. They are there for each other through thick and thin from their nubile bride days to now the twilight zone. Their daughters are aware of their heritage. but sometimes they get caught in the cultural dilemma. They call their mothers' group a "Hindi Bindi Club". The daughters make their own choices, sometimes without caring what their families or moms may think. The daughters have grown up together but they are not exactly close friends like their moms are or like their moms expect them to be. They have their fair shares of jealousy and cold vibes!

It's a fun novel to read especially since it comes with the recipes. The mothers' traditional recipes like Shukto, Sarson da saag, Samosa, chai, green beans bhaaji and their daughters' fusion cooking like chocolate truffle sandesh, Shrimp coconut curry & dessert porridge (kheer!).

As per the back cover of the book -
"For decades they have remained close, sharing treasured recipes, honored customs, and the challenges of women shaped by ancient ways yet living modern lives. They are the Hindi-Bindi Club, a nickname given by their American daughters to the mothers who left India to start anew—daughters now grown and facing struggles of their own.For Kiran, Preity, and Rani, adulthood bears the indelible stamp of their upbringing, from the ways they tweak their mothers’ cooking to suit their Western lifestyles to the ways they reject their mothers’ most fervent beliefs. Now, bearing the disappointments and successes of their chosen paths, these daughters are drawn inexorably home.Kiran, divorced, will seek a new beginning—this time requesting the aid of an ancient tradition she once dismissed. Preity will confront an old heartbreak—and a hidden shame. And Rani will face her demons as an artist and a wife. All will question whether they have the courage of the Hindi-Bindi Club, to hold on to their dreams—or to create new ones.An elegant tapestry of East and West, peppered with food and ceremony, wisdom and sensuality, this luminous novel breathes new life into timeless themes."

My favorite part of the book? Well, many times while reading many novels I have come across tiny italics where expressions in foreign languages are written. Sometimes French, sometimes German or Italian. ("Au Revoir" and such!) This is for the first time, I saw Marathi sentences written in tiny italics. and that too which are still used by my mom. like "Mazzi ga sonu ti!" (My sweetheart!) or "pillu" (My baby!) or some sentences seem to be like Gudiya - my daughter speaking like "Hot Hot" after tasting the curry and mom asking "Tikhat ki garam?" (Hot as in spicy or hot as in hot?) or "tu maazi mummy aayye!" ("You are my mom!").
I couldn't help thinking, which one of them will be me after 30 years and which one of the daughters, Gudiya will turn into? well, such a silly thought, I told myself and brushed it aside!!

I enjoyed reading this book.For more about the author -

And now to the recipes. There is a recipe by Meenal Deshpande for mango Lassi. I have adapted the recipe to suit our taste.

Mango Lassi (Serves 2)
1 cup Alphonso Mango pulp (or more if you like)
1 cup plain non fat yogurt
A pinch of salt
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp sugar (Optional)
A pinch of saffron threads
1/4 tsp Mango essence (Optional)

Mint leaves

1. Whirl mango, yogurt, cardamom powder, saffron, salt, mango essence & water in a blender till smooth. Give it a taste and adjust sugar if you prefer.
2. Pour into tall glasses. Garnish with mint.
1. Recipe for Mango Lassi adapted from "The Hindi Bindi club" by Ms. Monica Pradhan.
This is my contribution to "Novel Food : Winter 2007 Edition".


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