Indian cookbooks are now a dime a dozen—even those with food memoirs as a feature. But sometimes, I want a little drama with my Indian food, and that is how these four books satiate me!
Below are summaries of four fiction books that have Indian food playing a major role in the storyline. Some of these books even come with recipes and cooking tips, quenching my desire for practicality and whimsy!
Top Picks for Fiction Books About Indian Food
1. “Serving Crazy with Curry” by Amulya Malladi
Overcome with pressure in both her personal and professional life, Devi decides to take her life but manages to even fail at that. Concerned for her well-being, her parents force Devi to move in with them. Devi goes on a verbal strike and refuses to talk to anyone. Instead, she uses cooking as an outlet to emote. She begins to find herself in the process, creating stunningly complex and delicious Indian dishes much to her family’s pleasant surprise.
Then, a stranger appears out of the blue and this threatens to unhinge any of the progress Devi has made in her life.
With humor, emotional depth, and an array of Indian recipes, this book looks at one woman’s journey of self-acceptance and understanding the power of family.
2. “Ginger and Ganesh: Adventures in Indian Cooking, Culture, and Love” by Nani Power
“Please teach me Indian cooking! I will bring ingredients and pay you for your trouble. I would like to know about your culture as well.”
This is what Nani Power posted on Craigslist in an effort to learn Indian cooking in the most traditional way— from woman to woman. Half memoir, half fiction, “Ginger and Ganesh” looks at culinary traditions passed on between generations and the female psyche. There are numerous recipes, each telling the story and providing commentary on what it means to be a “modern woman” in contemporary society. The recipes in this books are family recipes shared with Nani from vegetarian homes in India; there are over 50 vegetarian recipes in total!
Through these recipes and the experiences of cooking and learning from women of another culture and generation, Nani learns about herself and an ancient wisdom that still holds value and provides insight for her amidst the modern, Western world.
3. “Mistress of Spices” by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
This is the story of the immortal Tilo, a young woman who has special powers of knowing and using the curative properties of spices. Tilo finds herself the owner of a spice shop in which she uses her powers to administer cures for others. An unexpected romance, however, forces Tilo to have to choose between her otherwise straightforward, albeit supernatural life, and the life of a common mortal life.
Tilo must come to terms with her own limitations, perhaps realizing that the magical properties of spices cannot cure a woman’s desires.
4. “The Abundance” by Amit Majmudar
Mala and Ronak learn that their mother has only a few months to live and so they return to the Midwest. It is here that they go through a process of rediscovery as they bob and weave their way through a diaspora group that goes back and forth between the old and new world.
Mala takes it upon herself to learn her mother’s art of Indian cooking, knowing that her window of time to learn is increasingly smaller with the deterioration of her mother’s health. Ronak suggests that they sell their experiences of learning, cooking, and grieving as a book and a TV documentary. Conflict erupts as siblings and generations weigh in on assimilation, exploitation, and what it means to be American, Indian, and/or a bit of both.
This post was originally published on our partner site, India.com, and has been republished here with permission.