Monday, August 23, 2010

Mango Salsa

Most of us travel in a set manner - visit a place, take in the sights and return back home. Our travels are for a fixed time duration at the end of which we have that desire to go back home and sleep in our own beds.

There are a few people, however, who travel for years together, moving from one place to another. With no fixed address and with no fixed travel route, they seem to live the life of a nomad. Meet one such nomad - Rita Golden Gelman.

A woman who has travelled the world over the past 15 odd years moving from one country to another with no possessions other than those that she can carry in her backpack. A woman for who the end of a 23 year old marriage marked the beginning of an entirely new way of life.

Yes, this is about the book the book club read this month - Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman, a collection of essays detailing her travel experiences from around the world.

From staying in a Zapotec village, to studying orangutans deep in the jungles in Borneo, to finding spiritual enlightenment in Bali, to trekking in Irian Jaya, to seeking her roots in Israel, to simply living in New Zealand, her travel experiences are phenomenal and often, not something that many of us would be able to or willing to imitate.

She goes from feeling vulnerable at having to travel and eat alone to being supremely confident in the seeking company of fellow travellers on the road. She never lets an opportunity to savour newer experiences slip by her; often times, she employs absolute ingenuity in creating opportunities for herself.

However, the sense of wonder and awe that one normally has when visiting new places (and especially those that are often not accessible to many travellers) is not there in the book. That is because this is not really a travelogue. So, don't read it if what you are looking for is a travelogue in the classic sense. She doesn't really describe or wax eloquent about the places she has been to.

Travels of a Female Nomad is more about how Gelman made her way into people's homes and then their hearts, her interactions with people and her response to the diverse cultures she encountered.

But more than anything else, it is a testament to the fact that it is never to late to live the life that you truly want to lead. As you flip the pages, you start to share her conviction that most of the times, if you only open your heart and mind to people, place your trust in them and simply go with the flow, life's experiences can be very enjoyable.

For that and that alone, this is a book that is a must read.

For some reason, from the time I started reading about her trip to Mexico, I was hoping there'd be some mango salsa somewhere in the book. There was none, but toward the end of the book, there was this salad that she made in Thailand.

So this is what I made: A mango salsa with a hint of Thai flavours.

Just cut some mangoes into cubes and slice some shallots and red chillies as well. Toss them in a dressing made with a few tbsps of pineapple juice, lime juice, sugar and salt. Garnish with some fresh coriander leaves and thinly shredded basil leaves and kaffir limes. Chill for about 30 mins, taste to check the balance of flavours and chill again for 30 mins before serving.

Serve this alongside some grilled chicken; I loved having it with some curd rice.

Edited to add: I recently re-made this salsa with 1.5 cups mango cubes + zest of 1 lemon + juice of 1/2 a lime + a tsp of sugar +2 small shallots, sliced + 1/2 tsp of freshly cracked pepper + salt to taste + 1.5 tbsps of chopped coriander leaves.

This is my entry to Yameen's Health Nut Challenge 7 : Tropical Fruits.


  1. I was waiting for your review. You are right, it is about never giving up on your dream and picking up at an age where most people have given up. I loved that she is out to find out about people and their culture and not be just a tourist.
    I read she has another collection out -- Tales of Female Nomads, about a bunch of women who travel like her.

  2. wow the salsa looks delicious .......... Ur site is also very nice .....

  3. Mmmm....I love mango salsa Thai style. I love how you cut your mango in chunks. Looks very delicious.

  4. book looks interesting and the salal looks too yum,..

  5. Great review. And I love your bright cheerful salsa

  6. Loved the review and the snapshot of the salad. Looks very tempting. I've read about another author, who has travelled through places like Asutralian outback and lived with the nomads of Rajasthan


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