Monday, October 26, 2009


I don't know anything about the publication business, but I do know this much - that before a novel gets published, the draft gets read and proof read several times after which the novel gets into print.

And so, here's a question to Monica Pradhan, the author of The Hindi Bindi Club and all the others who must've worked on that novel : how did this horror of an error slip into the novel?

Starting at one end of the sari, she tucked the corner into the waistband of my petticoat at my naval, instructed me to hold it there, circled behind me, and returned to my naval.

Naval? Really? How?!!
Now, I don't have too many years of experience in wearing a sari, but I always thought that I needed to tuck in the sari at the navel.

Sorry for the nit-picking, but then this one (which means there are a couple of others) really blew me away! Anyway, lets get on to the book, shall we?

The Hindi Bindi Club essentially deals with the trials, the tribulations and the triumps of three immigrant Indian women and their American born daughters. But more than that, it is a story of the delicate mother - daughter relationships, of friendships among women and in many ways, a return to ones roots.

Meenal, Saroj and Uma hail from very different backgrounds but bond together when they find themselves away from their desh in the U.S of A. Together the trio are nicknamed The Hindi Bindi Club by their daughters, Kiran, Preity and Rani. As children, the girls would meet whenever the trio met; however their bond is nowhere as close as the one their mothers have formed.

Kiran Desai, a doctor by profession, is returning home after 5 years of estrangement with her parents over her marriage and subsequent divorce to a wannabe rock star. With her biological clock ticking fast, Kiran now wonders whether the traditional arranged marriage that she had once scoffed upon could be the thing for her. Meenal, having had to go through a crisis herself in the past year, wants to reach out to her daughter in every way she can, but has to struggle to make Yash, her husband, accept the daughter Kiran is rather than daughter he wants her to be.

Saroj Chawla, who hails from Punjab is a cook par excellence and runs a very successful catering business. Having lived through the partition, she struggles to come to terms with the past and her resulting prejudices. Her daughter Preity Chawla Lindstorm lives an almost fairy tale life - a perfect daughter, a good job, happily married with two children , she couldn't ask for anything more from her life. Yet, the memories of a past love and thoughts on 'what might have been' give her sleepless nights.

Uma Basu McGuiness has defied convention in coming to the US to pursue further studies. But when she marries an American, her father disowns her, refusing to forgive her even on his death-bed. Consequently, and sometimes, much to the chagrin of her friends, she gives her daughter Rani a lot of freedom in making her own decisions. A rocket scientist turned artist, Rani deals with the fear of artistic expression turning repetitive and with her husband, Bryan's fallen morale owing to some work related matters.

Now, the three girls are back home for the holidays, each dealing with her own demons. As they re-connect, they begin to look at each other in a new light, in the process breaking down the walls that separated them in childhood.

Every character in the book tells her own story in her own voice in alternating chapters, while e-mails and letters give it a great continuity as the narrative moves effortlessly from one person to the other and between past and present. Also, the mother-daughter relationships and the women's friendships are dealt with very sensitively.

However, though the novel started off well, somewhere down the line, it disintegrated into finding a suitable groom for Kiran and her subsequent marriage and therefore, was a bit of a let down. Moreover, I got the feeling that the author tried to fit in too many stories into one novel and then had to hastily finish it off; the story lines of Saroj - Preity and Uma-Rani seemed quite abrupt and therefore, incomplete. Also, there were parts that read more like speeches - the one where Saroj's guest waxes eloquent about how to solve the Indo-Pak problem was downright amateurish.

Nevertheless, The Hindi Bindi Club was an engaging and heart-warming read.

There are some very interesting recipes at the end of every chapter and since I've never made samosas before, I tried out Saroj's Famous Samosas.

Ingredients (for the crust)

All purpose flour - 1 cup
Butter and shortening - 2.5 tbsps each, chilled
Ice cold water - 2 tbsps
Ajwain - 1/2 tsp


Rub the butter and shortening into the dry ingredients (flour, salt and ajwain) till it ressembles biscuit crumbs.
Add in the water, a little at a time, till the dough holds together.
Knead for a further 5 mins or till the dough looks smooth and shiny. Wrap in a cling wrap and chill for an hour.

Ingredients (for the stuffing):

Potatoes - 2 medium, boiled and cut into cubes
Green peas - 1/2 cup
Ginger - 2 tsps, grated
Cumin seeds and fennel seeds - 3/4 tsp each
Dry masalas - cumin powder, coriander powder, garam masala, red chilli powder, turmeric and aamchoor powder - as per your taste
Sugar - 1/2 tsp
Fresh coriander leaves - 2 tbsps, chopped


Heat oil and add in the cumin seeds and the fennel seeds. When the start to crackle, add the potatoes and the peas, followed by the ginger and all the dry masalas, as well as the salt and sugar. Mix till the veggies are evenly coated by the masalas.

Reduce the heat to a minimum, cover and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add in the coriander leaves and allow the mixture to cool completely.

Assembling and making the samosas:

Knead the chilled dough for about 5 minutes and then divide into 4 portions.

Roll each ball of dough into a 6 - inch circle and divide it into two, so that you have 2 half- moons. Repeat with all the remaining balls of the dough.

Spoon about 1.5 tbsps of the stuffing into the centre of each half moon, then fold the left and right corners to form a cone.

Fold the top end to form an inverted pyramid and seal all the edges carefully, using some water if necessary.

Deep fry till golden brown and serve hot with any chutney of your choice.

Here is what the other members of the book club made:
Simran and Aparna made Chocolate Sandesh Truffles while Ann made Bengali Grilled Salmon with Panch Phoran.

Join us again next month, we are reading Bread Alone by Judith Ryan Hendricks.


  1. I still have to post my review but I couldn't agree more about the pontification in the book. I mean who really does indulge in serious topics of conversation like Indo Pak accords with first time guests to your house?
    Good catch on the naval, navel. Totally missed it, but really?
    Oh and don't get me started on the choppy ending. I will end up writing my review here. :)

  2. As i told in aparnas place i am also busy reading the same book.
    Love the samosas, your look absloutley delicous. Crunch.

  3. Oh! I love samosas. I was hoping someone with make them.

  4. Absolutely delicious samosas...Looks prefect!

  5. Wow.. craving for them.. delicious!

  6. Haha, naval brings all kinds of funny images to mind. I can't believe you made samosas from scratch, wow :) My mum used to make em using popiah (spring roll) skins, or maybe that's just a Malaysian thing.

  7. wow! such a loely presentation! thanks for sharing

  8. I too love samosas,perfect snack :)

  9. Thats a good catch aqua..sounds really funny :-)
    I love your samosas more..slurp !!

  10. hi AD,
    I've heard a lot about this book, havent yet read it, reading the outline of the what it is about...I'm sure I'll buy it soon :)
    The samosas look good AD :) good job! dhany hai vo muh jisne yeh yummy samosas khaye! ;)slurrrp..

  11. I love Samosas. tempting pictures. Awards are waiting for u in my blog.

  12. I had picked up this book & then kept it back on my last visit to the library, maybe I will get it on my next one. BTW how do I go about joining the book club?

  13. Looks lovely and a very interesting post and with a very nicely written review.

  14. mmm,,,perfect for the winters,..

  15. Good catch on the NAVAL - why - are you not accustomed to typing your sari around a warship?
    I think we all have the same sentiments - so-so book but better recipes! Fab job on the samosas - I've never made a samosa from scratch. I think I'll use this recipe to give myself a primer.

  16. Ooops - TYING your sari - not typing it! Chee chee - blame my publisher! ;-)

  17. yummy looking samosa...Liked the way u have explained it through step by step pics...really nice

  18. Lovely pics! Can you parcel some samosas to me :D

  19. Somasa from scratch never attempt, usually do with spring roll wrapper. Perfect!

  20. Wow, these look perfect, I love Samosas........ they are just absolutely perfect!

  21. haven't heard of a soul who does not like samosas. we are always fighting at home to grab the last one. love our addition of ajwain.


It is not just about the ingredients or the recipe, good food happens when it is served with love!!

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