Eating India and Monsoon Diary – Book Reviews

I chanced upon 2 books by Indian authors on food in India. What better combination, a book on food, especially for a foodie and avid reader like me.

Eating India : An Odyssey into the Food and Culture of the Land of Spices.

by Chitrita Banerji

The book had me hooked from the very beginning when the author starts to describe a Bengali wedding – something that was so much a part of my childhood, where we had Bengalis as neighbours, friends, family friends, dad’s colleagues.  The book is a fantastic journey into the cuisines of various parts of India, exploring the possible origins of dishes, the foreign influences that made what we eat today, so part of Indian cooking. So many ingredients that we take for granted today, was part of what we got from various parts of the world, like potatoes, onions, and even the Bengali Rossogolla, might have other origins, which the author tried really hard to track down in the book.

The author’s love and appreciation of food, irrespective of cuisine, comes through in her writing. Her descriptions so vivid, that she made some of the food, which I actually, don’t like, sound delicious. For me, it was a wonderful read and also made me want to try out the variety of cuisine that our wonderfully diverse country has.

Monsoon Diary : Reveries and Recipes from South India

by Shoba Narayan



I picked up this book on a whim. The cover looked good and so did the synopsis. I am happy to say that it did not disappoint.  The author takes us down the memory lane with her reminisces filled with food, along with the recipes. Starting from her initiation into eating adult food( Chor-unnal in Malayalam) to the time that she is married. Each memory associated with some sort of food. Be it the food that she shared with her school friends , her cousins or her roommates, while in college. The flavour  captured beautifully in her words. How food was so central in everything that she has done. Even the permission to go abroad for higher studies was based on the fact that she was able to churn out a wonderful traditional meal.  She talks about the time when she tried fusion food (international fusion at that) on her husband, much to his distress, all he wanted was an authentic South Indian meal.  It was a wonderful read, though I am too lazy to try out recipes, reading was soul satisfying enough for me.

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59 thoughts on “Eating India and Monsoon Diary – Book Reviews

  1. I am making note of the books right now. I am love reading books by Indian Authors. Once I get back I want to catch them up all. The cover of “monsoon diary” is superb.

    I try and pick up Indian Authors as much as I can! I am now reading The White Queen by Philippa Gregory – Have you read her – I LOVE her historical fiction!

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    • Nope not read. Right now I am discovering Thrity Umrigar. Another Indian author I am in love with. 😀

      I haven’t read Thrity Unrigar either – one more on the list 🙂

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    • Oh I will def. pick up the first one too 🙂
      As for Monsoon Diary, wil be bk after I finish reading. Just to c hw I cn relate to this 😛 😛
      Btw, U hd read Vine of Desire no Smithu? Did u pick up Sister of My Heart? Lovely book 🙂
      I hv to move to Vine of Desire nw 🙂


      No, I still haven’t got hold of it yet 😦 I so want to read it. I will buy it when I come to India, if I can’t get hold of it here.

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      • do pick ‘sister of my heart’ for sure Smiths and I’m sure you’ll like it…

        I am dying to read it 🙂

        there is something about these Indian Authors..may be we are kind of connected to them the instant we know they are Indians or I don’t know what…but they do impress me lot more than the foreign authors do…but surely doesn’t mean that I’m comparing their writing…all are good authors as long as the readers are happy 🙂


        Yes, it might just be, that we can identify better or it brings back memories for us.. Yes, I like non-Indian authors too – some of them are so much fun to read.

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        • Well, nt sure y I am picking up Indian authors … nt that they impress me more or something like that 🙂
          Currently, I am in lovvvve with Joanna Trollope too 🙂

          Joanna Trollope is good, isn’t she? I liked most of her books.

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        • as I told you on FB few days back…I’m right now in love with Nora Roberts…she is damn good…suspense thriller !! checked her any time ?


          I have read some of hers – but not the one you mentioned – will see if I can find it in the lib here – they have a well stocked Nora Roberts section. Maybe it is time I visit it 🙂

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      • Sister of My heart is really good but can’t say the same for the sequel Vine of Desire though 😦

        yes, Vine of desire was not very great, was it? I so want to read Sister of My heart.

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          • CBD should check these comments and she’ll be thrilled to see these appreciations 🙂 LOL may be we can get free book each 😉

            I wish! Free ka publicity na 🙂

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          • Sister of my heart is good, but it does get a little filmy. There’s also support for superstition, including pregnancy through some pilgrimage etc. What I did like was the really authentic description of the kind of life they lead…

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          • I don’t think there is support for superstition IHM. The way I saw it is that though her MIL does take her there, she instead helps another girl and gets bk. Also, both of them know that the doctor is the one who helped her husband with it. She even waits for him to tell it to his Mom 🙂

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    • Exactly what I ws thinking. And I cn so relate to ur taste in reading 😛

      Same here 🙂

      Just like u, I pick up anything and everything, but what we feel abt the books r almost same 😛
      Red Carpet, POI .. all of them, I cn relate to ur reviews 😉

      I know! It is funny and lovely 🙂

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  2. Third!! Wow, sounds so good, Smith. I want a copy too!! Can I send you my postal address? Btw, what are u upto this weekend? Will call you!


    I think you will love these, Pals 🙂 Not my own copy, or I would have sent it – Go reserve it in your lib – am sure you will find it in London.

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  3. so these were two books you were refering in older post…
    Somehow books based on food doesnt feel interesting to me..

    yes. There are some more – A couple of others I might review – if I feel like it 🙂 I love books on food, which are written with passion 🙂

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  4. I loved both the covers..tempts you to pick the books right away and read…sometimes I feel why there are so many books in the world that we cannot keep a tab of 😦

    ‘ometimes I feel why there are so many books in the world that we cannot keep a tab of 😦 – me too! I have such a loooong list of books to be read! Not that I am really complaining though 🙂

    Thanks for sharing the reviews

    You are always welcome 🙂

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  5. now thats one book review i read word to word… the first one that is… and seems like its a book to be bought !!!!!!! 😀 😀 😀 sounds awesome… I love reading people who write bout food with passion !! 🙂

    You will love both, Hitchy! It was such fun to read – food, food and more food 🙂

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  6. I love books from Indian authors, Thrity Umringar, Bharati Mukherjee, Chitra banerjee and another one that is about food is by Madhur Jaffery “Climbing the Mango Trees” It sounds exciting though I am yet to start it!

    I have read Climbing the Mango Trees – it is a wonderful read! I loved it! I love these books too 🙂

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  7. The joy of reading this post was that I got the names of so many authors that I can check out..noted down all the suggestions contributed in the comments.

    I have a huge ‘to-read’ list too! Some of which I don’t seem to find here- so I have huge list to buy in India.

    Food books make me so hungry that I gobble up so many chocolates while reading them 😥

    Chocolates or no chocolates, you are still stick thin – Lucky people 🙂 I put on weight looking at food 🙂

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  8. I have monsoon diary lying at my bedside table along with 10 other brand new books… gosh there are so many books to read and when do i read them??????????????

    I know ! That is the toughest part 🙂 I m reading The White Queen, which I am finding difficult to put down.

    and i love reading books on food… just finished julie and julia and along with monsoon diary I also have rude food by vir sanghavi lying there too

    Wow! Do let us know how you found these books! Will be waiting for the review.

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  9. Foodie books ???? I love this review. When the whole post talks so passionately abt food, then its a must read.
    I loved both the books! The passion about food was evident in both the books!

    Should buy the first one, especially for the bengali recipes – my whole family is crazy after bengali cuisine. 🙂

    The first one does not have recipes – it is more a discovery of food origins and stuff. She explores various cuisines and of course, describes a lot of her native cuisine as well 🙂

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  10. You won’t believe this!! I have the 1st book and u know why nd how? 2 years back I was book browsing and saw this!!! It was the same time when I had discovered Chitra Banerjee and was on a look out for all her books. Needless to say I had read “Chitrita Banerji” as Chitra Banerjee and rest as they say is history!!! When I later discovered my mistake I could only chide myself!!! Now u have given me a reason to re claim the book 😉

    LOL! Yes, give it a try and let me know how you found it 🙂

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  11. definitely my kinda reads.. i am yet to discover all of chitra’s writing .. just done palace of illusions and love her writing ..

    Yes, as Smita says, this is Chitrita 🙂 Not the same person. But it was still a good read .

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  12. books and more books…. me not into Indian authors these days at all… the one I randomly picked gave me a headache!! But I love books on food and the spices, and like Smitha said, I too thought Divakarunni had started writing them tooo… and the book cover so resembles the Mistress of Spices that I have…:):)

    I pick books very randomly. I came across the second one in the cooking shelf, where I was looking for cake decoration ideas 🙂 It looked interesting so I grabbed it 🙂

    Re-reading Tolkien, and then it will be Rowling time again… :):) The hobbit is keeping me pretty occupied that I can’t think of turning to another book for reading at any other time of day, except of course, study material!!! … loving it totally:)

    Tolkien and Rowling are both in a class of their own. I am reading Philippa Gregory’s The White Queen – I love historicals too. Have you read any of her’s?

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  13. Food and Books !!! Hmmmm…

    So hows the weather there? Is poohi going to school regularly ?? and did you get those vegetables you wanted ??? 😀

    Vegetables??? I thought you were one who was going vegetable shopping 🙂

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  16. Stumbled into your blog. Loved it. Intend to stay on

    Welcome here, and thank you 🙂 Do leave your blog link, if you blog too 🙂

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  17. It was only after reading your review Palace of Illusions that I picked up the book to read and loved it immensely. Loved your take on the above mentioned books too. Will surely pick them up :).

    Thanks loads, Deeps 🙂

    I’m currently reading a very old work of Eric Segal’s, Doctors. Its turning out to be a very slow read but interesting nonetheless.


    I loved Doctors, Deeps! Infact I love all of Segal’s works! Have you read The Class? I read it when I was in ninth or tenth and used to dream of getting into Harvard 🙂

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  18. Hi,

    Liked your blog. Please add me as a follower. I’ve just started mine. Would be obliged if you can add me to your roll.
    All Best
    Neena

    Will hop over, Neena, I haven’t had a chance yet, but will surely do 🙂

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  19. Again I don’t know Smitha whether I will like the books… Even though I am a good eater I don’t think I will enjoy reading about it… generally I love fiction with some history or something..

    Then you will love the latest book I reviewed – The White queen 🙂

    anyway will try the first book sometime…. she is the same author who written ‘Palace of illusions’, right???

    No she isn’t. Swaram has already mentioned it below 🙂

    Smitha a small request.. do add a recent posts widget in the sidebar.. that will be helpful as I sometimes come a little late in reading posts….

    Done 🙂

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