The book is Miss New India, by Bharati Mukherjee. The author is Bengali, which I appreciate since Anya Rashi was born in Kolkata and shares that heritage. It's been fun to learn a few Bengali words, especially family words (baba is father, didi is big sister, etc.) through her writing. Many of her novels deal with the experiences of Indians who have emigrated to America -- and are also thoughtful explorations of family ties, culture, and identity.
Miss New India, however, takes place within India. At first glance, it is a classic storyline about a young woman moving from a small town to the big city. It is deeper and richer than that simple description, however. The main character, Anjali, is also leaving behind a traditional life and exchanging it for a more modern (and much more ambiguous) identity. The city of Bangalore, where she ends up, is almost a character in itself -- dynamic, pulsing with technology, and fueled by the energy of young people pouring in every day to work in call centers and other new industries. But she also encounters the dark side of life in a large city, and finds that things and people are not always what they seem.
Prospective readers should know that Mukherjee is an author who allows bad things to happen to her characters -- and this book is definitely reading for adults. But it is a very rewarding glimpse into Indian culture which is changing and growing by the second. Ultimately, the book is about rebirth: the rebirth of Anjali, of her hometown and personal history, and of India.
Now for the recipe! I've posted more traditional recipes in the past, but this time I wanted to feature a chicken recipe that's Indian-inspired, rather than strictly authentic. Many of us have family members who can't eat spicy food, or are afraid to try new kinds of cuisine. This easy dish is very friendly to the uninitiated, and gives them the flavor of curry without the heat.
Easy Mild Curried Chicken
(and thanks for the recipe, Michelle M.!)
12 chicken drumsticks, skinned OR 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
(salted and peppered to your taste)
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp. dijon or brown spicy mustard
1 Tbsp. curry powder
Spray a 9" x 13" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. In a small bowl, whisk together sauce ingredients. Place chicken pieces in baking dish and spoon sauce over chicken. Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour, turning chicken pieces over halfway through baking time.
Happy Diwali -- enjoy!