A SENSE FOR SPICE : RECIPES AND STORIES FROM A KONKAN KITCHEN :TARA DESHPANDE TENNEBAUM : WESTLAND LTD : PAGES 294 : PRICE RS 495/-
Though born and brought up in Mumbai, the author’s heart remains in Konkan where she spent many holidays with her grandparents. Her olfactory sense perhaps got ignited during those periods when her grandmothers prepared food for the family using traditional spices found in the Konkan region. Extremely talented and one who has acted in plays as well as in TV shows and films both in India and the USA where she lives with her vegetarian husband, this is her second book. It is exceptional in the sense that it combines cooking recipes long forgotten with an engaging act of story-telling that fixates you to the book for you can literally smell the aroma oozing out of the Konkani kitchen as well as imagine the picturesque beauty of the Konkan land. The book’s title should have read “A Sense for Spice and a Sense for Konkan History”. Three generations of culinary treasures passed on from one generation to another with care and love and now preserved through this book for posterity is something very remarkable. One would have thought Konkani food is essentially seafood for which their restaurants are famous in Mumbai. Tara Deshpande in her recipes, (which include many vegetarian dishes),one hundred and twenty three in all, has neatly categorized them for the sake of the amateur cook’s convenience. An A to Z glossary at the end of the book makes it easier to understand the various local words for the different spices and cooking utensils. With coloured photographs selectively used, the book is bound to excite readers with the inter-generational bonding which the author experienced and which she has shared with her readers. It is a ‘déjà vu’ for all of us from different ethnic backgrounds. Her unique recipes intertwined with her family history makes the book a compelling read.