More Than Just Biryani- Andaleeb Wajid : 11/52

A book that makes your mouth water and stomach growl

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Food.

It starts off with soft, crispy shaamis, rice and dal and ends with a comfort food called kichda. And in between there’s gajar ka halwa, different kinds of lauz, kutt, prawn masala and even halwa made out of bottlegourd. And of course, there’s biryani.

But this book is More Than Just Food. There are women.  Four women, four lives.

When the book was launched, the author asked readers not to rush through the book and instead read it slowly and savour each word. And though I polished it off in just two days, slow is how this book is to be enjoyed. It takes you from the hot summers of Vellore in the late 50s to the odd smelling air of Hong Kong in 2010 through the lives of three generations of women

There is magic in the browning of onions, the sinful sugary goodness of lauz  in the comfort of kichda and even in the perfect tea. Ordinary lives made extra ordinary through everyday food.  Food that helps Tahera cope with loss, food that redeems Ruqayya from the being ostracized for hating to cook, food that helps Zubi cope with the invisible torment that has been haunting her all her life.

I loved the way the little things that make women women have been explored in this book. From Tahera’s uncontrollable hostility towards Suman, Suman’s patient eagerness to fit in, Ruqayya’s seemingly shocking independent streak, Nadira’s quiet acceptance of her life, Zubi’s fierce resolve never to become her mother right to Sonia’s silly little crush, small emotions add up and make this book a delightful read.

And once you’re done reading this book, believe me, you’ll head straight to the kitchen.

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