Sunday, August 30, 2009

Dugh - a yogurt drink

This month, we at the book club read Marsha Mehran's Pomegranate Soup.

So how does one make - I mean - write a novel call Pomegranate Soup?

Method:

You need 3 Aminpour sisters - Marjan, Bahar and Layla - who come to a small, not a melting pot kind of town called Ballinacroagh in Ireland.

Throw in a widowed, motherly Italian lady, Estelle Delmonico from whom they lease the premises for their restaurant - Babylon Cafe. As foreigners, they are looked upon with suspicion; cooking a cuisine that is decidedly exotic only serves to feed the gossip.

Now, add in a villan to the broth in the form of Thomas McGuire who for long has unsuccessfully tried to acquire Estelle's cafe to expand his own business and therefore tries to create trouble for the 3 sisters.

Cardamom, cinnamon, saffron, rosewater - soon enough, the townspeople are drawn in by the exotic scented food and the cafe is well on its way to becoming popular.

Now, add in some more spice to further enhance the broth: the Aminpour sisters have fled Iran seven years ago and started life anew in London. But when the echoes from their past threatened to reach out into the present, they seek refuge Ireland . However, it seems that the past is going to hound them, yet again.

Now, that sure sounds like the recipe for a great book, doesn't it?

However....

For starters, Marsha Mehran's Pomegranate Soup has very distinct echoes of Joanne Hariis' Chocolat - strangers coming into a town and winning over suspicious residents with the magic of the food they cook.

And then, the stereotypes: the motherly Italian lady, the beefy villain, the friendly priest, the exotic youngest sister Layla with her "natural cinnamon rose" perfume.

But the biggest drawback was the story telling. The plot had plenty of drama and therefore the potential for a tale with a lot of twists - the sisters fleeing Iran even as the country is engulfed in the Islamic revolution, the ghost of their past, the undercurrent of conflict with Thomas McGuire - but was all squandered away by the narrative that didn't deliver any punch and the rather abrupt way in which things fall into place all through the book, finishing finally with an end that was too neatly tied up for my liking.

Where the author really excels is the way the recipes are woven into the very fabric of the story. You can actually picture the sisters in the kitchen frying the elephants ears or chopping the mint leaves for the dugh or stuffing and rolling the grape leaves for the dolmeh.



Every chapter in the novel begins with a recipe. Dugh - a yogurt drink is what I decided to make. It is something very similar to masala chaas - with mint added.

Pound together mint (lots of it), a couple of green chillies and a small piece of ginger. Add it to the buttermilk (if you don't have buttermilk, just thin yogurt with some water) alongwith some ground cumin and rock salt. Pour this into a bottle or a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously till the buttermilk takes a pale green colour (I really had to shake it for long for this, at the end of which my arms were killing me!).
Serve topped with some ice.

This is really, really yummy. Truth be told, I made it just for this post - I know, you aren't surprised, for don't we all cook for the blog - but we loved it so much that I've made it a couple of times again.


Here's what the other members of the book club made:
Simran made lavash bread, Jaya made lentil soup and Sweatha served us some Pomegranate Soup!!

If you want to Eat Cake with us - for that's the title of the book we are reading next month - Jeanne Ray's Eat Cake, do drop in a line to Simran whose email is bombayfoodie(at)gmail(dot)com

23 comments:

  1. Great review. And I love your dugh.

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  2. Yogurt drink looks simply outstanding..

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  3. that looks refreshing! nice names for the ingredients too :)

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  4. Nice read...with a yummy drink recipe..

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  5. Wow,mint ginger and greenchillies,whats not there for liking it!! Super delicious!!

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  6. Great Review .The name was intriguing,the recipe is very hearty and great

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  7. Great review Aqua. Did not look at the book from ur point of view cause haven't read chocolate but you are right, the end was tied up too neatly for my liking too. But i loved the recipes too. Your dugh drink looks good.

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  8. Nice , delicious & refreshing treat ... Completely new to me ...

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  9. Nice , delicious & refreshing treat ... Completely new to me ...

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  10. Very refreshing yogurt drink...

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  11. Interesting...nice combo...and nice pic

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  12. that was a really nice review aquadaze :) the drink looks so refreshing.

    Siri

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  13. Enjoyed reading the gist and the Dugh is very refreshing!

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  14. Just for mint flavor, I can have it again and again!

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  15. new and unique drink.....thanks for sharing

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  16. I will do that Aqua, thanks girl. I have got some "mid life crisis" stuff going on at home right now to solve and it's not from me! ;D

    ReplyDelete
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  18. I read that book and is very good! I love the yogurt, very refreshing!

    ReplyDelete

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