Recipes From An Urban Village by Charmaine O’Brien is a treasure-trove that exemplifies the human spirit - and the collective wisdom of generations - in the form of recipes from the inhabitants of the basti at Hazrat Nizamuddin.
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The other day, I received one of the most fabulous gifts from my sister, Anuradha -- a book, a recipe book. But it wasn’t just another coffee-table book with high-resolution pictures and designer layouts. At first glance, it appeared almost dreary and lackluster. But that was only until I opened it and started leafing through it. At the risk of hyperbole, I’d say it was a humbling experience. Recipes From An Urban Village by Charmaine O’Brien is a treasure-trove that exemplifies the human spirit -- and the collective wisdom of generations - in the form of recipes from the inhabitants of the basti at Hazrat Nizamuddin. That the unassuming, self-effacing basti is such a cauldron of myriad influences, merging in seamless unity, can only be describe as spiritual - the quintessence of the adjoining Sufi shrine - and a tribute to the eternal chutzpah that makes each of us hang on to hope.
Kudos to the Hope Project in India for bringing out this to me, and to Charmaine O’Brien for collating these recipes. It captures, ever so evocatively, the gracious hospitality, the refined cooking and the spirit of sharing and conviviality that is an integral part of life in the basti. With a forward by Pirzade Zia Inayat-Khan, the book is divided into sections - Essentials on the ingredients, Food Festivals, Snacks, Meat Dishes, Vegetarian Dishes, Grain, Rice and Legumes, Breads, Sweets, and Chutneys - each recipe being credited to its contributor. … I’m inspired by The Hope Project, I hope you are too!
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