Inspiration From The Distant Past

Inspiration From The Distant Past
Found note in an old book... warms the cockles of my bookish heart...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Traveling in place: India

First, thank you Man of La Book for giving me the courage to say I occasionally hate books and don't finish them. The last book I put down with irritation shall remain nameless, because someday, if I write a book and someone hates it, I don't want them to mention the title. Read it forward?

Instead of the karmically unmentionable book with an Indian theme, I read
"Climbing the Mango Tree: A Memoir of Childhood in India, a biography by Madhur Jaffrey. and loved it from the forward to the last word so much so that I hardly know where to begin so I'll tell you how she began,
"I was born in my grandparents' sprawling house by the Yamuna River in Delhhi.  Grandmother welcomed me into this world by writing
Om, which means, "I am" in Sanskirt, on my tongue with a little finger dipped in honey." You can't say enough about the upside to a really good grandmother.

 Jaffrey is a titan of the culinary world, was friends with James Beard to the point of having taught some his classes when his health began to fail and while she began as an actress she has become a prolific cookbook author, specializing in, get ready... Indian cuisine!  Shocking! I know!.   So why not one of her many cookbooks?  Well, I chose her biography because I'm trying to lose weight and just didn't think it would be a good idea to have any more reasons to want food.   My husband and I go out for India food. Fewer leftovers=smaller sit down ( optimally at least ).
Kakri cucumbers.  Seeds available from
Diamond Seeds
Needless to say, food is a main character in her biography from the honey on her newborn tongue to the summer cucumbers called kakri  hawked in the streets of Delhi by vendors crying out "Laila ki unglian hain, Manju ki pasliyan", "These are the fingers of Juliet, the ribs of Romeo"  though I'm not sure how you get either Romeo or Juliet from that.  She translated and I figure she knows more than I do about Hindi(?).   The book is a good read and a tour of India taken from your own cozy book nook.
Maybe you have the last few summer kakri sitting sadly on their withering vines and if so, though this isn't even remotely Shakespearean, maybe you'd like an idea about what to do with them:

Raita Salad
  • 1 cucumber peeled, seeded and coarsely grated
  • 2 cucumbers peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped mint, firmly packed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne ( to taste and omit if heat isn't your thing )
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • salt and pepper to taste
Hindu Temple, Calabasas, California.
Take off your shoes.. Thank you.
Combine all the ingredients and allow them to marry in the fridge for an hour or so. The Greek yogurt has a very high protein content and thus this is a good salad to pair with some steamed rice  as a meal.  This is also delicious served as a condiment to grilled meats and how much damage can you do with vegetables and non-fat yogurt?  I will tell you, using Greek yogurt makes a difference.  


  1. I have Madhur Jaffrey's cookbook which I love and use frequently. This memoir must be very good if its combining memoirs with food!!! I like her style of writing so very much. Thank you for this post.

  2. I'm so glad you enjoyed it Mystica. Thank you for reading it! I think you may have talked me into at least checking one of her books out from the library. We really like Indian cuisine and now that I have a recommendation, I know where to start.

  3. Sounds like a good read. I sometimes abandon books too, but I always feel guilty after :/

  4. me too Sam... but I'm working on getting over it. a support group might be in order

  5. This website was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something which helped me. Thanks!

    Stop by my blog :: workouts to increase vertical leap


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