Friday, 12 September 2014
Book Review - Korma, Kheer and Kismet by Pamela Timms
Food has been a favourite topic for writers and bloggers lately. There are reasons for it; it’s easy to connect with food, everyone has a food memory to share and it’s something that people can never get enough of. Food writing is now not limited to just blogs, there are regular newspaper columns and books with people writing about their favourite food memory, their cooking preferences, their kitchen essentials etc. etc. More and more bloggers/food journalists are publishing their books. The question is, is the content good enough to deserve it’s own book? My opinion would be no, not in all cases. Especially not when there are random memories which do not add anything to my reading experience.
Thankfully, Pamela Timms’ Korma, Kheer and Kismet doesn’t fall in that category. Pamela, a food blogger writes a column in Mint Lounge and the book is about her street food experiences in Old Delhi. It starts with a ghee laden, spicy mutton korma at Ashok and Ashok - the description of the food leaves you hungry and ends with the mysterious daulat ki chat - I faintly remember eating its Lucknowi version makkhan malai as a kid. The book is studded with recipes which is a bonus.
Every street food shop, dish comes with a back story or a memory which is fascinating. The best two chapters are the ones about mutton korma and daulat ki chat because of all the mystery surrounding these two legendary dishes of Delhi. The chapters with food and its history make for a more interesting read. Rest of it sounds like a day in the life of a regular small town Indian. Whether it’s celebrating Diwali in a joint family or buying vegetables from a market instead of a mall. A younger, mall loving urban generation will definitely find these stories exotic.
Old Delhi has always made for a charming premise for a book, be it food or history. Authors have always loved describing the old city’s dusty roads, crowd and chaos. So does Pamela when she visits the street side shops to try her favourite food. But she bumps into a cart, avoids kids running after a kite, almost steps into a puddle a little too much making it a tedious read at times. And one element that’s missing is humour. While there are glimpses of it she never goes all out to make you chuckle. I understand that it’s not the genre she is looking for but we can all do with good food and good laugh.
Ignore the few repetitions and Korma, Kheer And Kismet is a good, light read. Especially for the food lovers.