Ria's Collection: A BOOK REVIEW & GIVEAWAY!

Thursday, May 21, 2015


The first time I heard about Monica Bhide was through Twitter.That was when her latest cookbook, Modern Spice just hit the stands. From then on, I was hooked onto her recipes and stories. We became friends on Facebook and I must say,we have been enjoying each other's company over the years now. When she asked me if I could review her latest book, A Life of Spice,I was humbled and excited at the same time. She even sent me a paperback copy for myself and FOUR for you guys!
Monica Bhide
This book has the most beautiful stories about food and culture. I am a person who cooks to create memories and to relive my beautiful past.When I read through all the chapters in the book, I felt the same about Monica. I could relate so well with her. Some stories were so powerful that it brought tears to my eyes especially the one about her father's childhood in Multan. Some were so light and jovial that I laughed out loud. I must say, I couldn't keep this book down and I finished it in one go.
Creamy Tomato & Coconut fish Curry
                                Creamy Tomato & Coconut Fish Curry from Modern Spice (click for recipe)

I have so much to talk about this book because it connected me so well with my past. The stories about her Grandmother's house had me dreaming about my childhood in Mamma's kitchen. When she went back to Old Delhi with her little boy to show him her Grandmother's house, all they could see were rubbles.It brought tears to my eyes as I know how it feels since our Pallikuttumma house is no more.I try not to think about it because of the fear that the happy memories might vanish with the lack of the house there.I might be wrong but I don't want to take a chance.
Chicken 65

Since she has given you all a chance to win one of the FOUR copies, you really should try your chance. This is one book you will cherish for the rest of your life. A book filled with stories about food and life that can transport you to your beautiful past. Thank you Monica for writing a book like this. I feel I have been able to relive the good old days and didn't want the book to end. I wanted more.I still want more.
                              Grilled Spicy Paneer Sandwich from Monica's website (click for recipe)

After reading it all and staring at our white popcorn ceiling, I was wondering how it would be to live inside Monica's head for a day! :-) We think alike in many ways. In one chapter,she discusses whether the food is better if it's cooked in a glamorous kitchen.In another chapter,she talks about the ghosts of the cakes past.I could relate to it so well because of my Idli adventures. My Idli's are usually spongy soft, porous and feather light.It wasn't the same for the past almost 3 months. I tried and tried. I would soak rice and dal every other night. The batter never fermented.I even started to doubt my cooking skills. I made batters of different consistency at the same time.My kitchen looked like a research lab.Finally, I found the culprit. The brand of urad dal I was using was of poor quality.I changed it and my Idli's were back to where it belonged...into my hot case /Casserole...instead of the trash can.

For a chance to win this book
1. Leave a comment on this post saying why you would like to win Monica's book.
2.'Like' my Facebook page. You can use the widget on the right hand side or you can click here.Do come back and tell me in another comment that you did so :-)

You can choose to do one or both of the above mentioned options. If you do both, you have doubled your chances of winning a copy!

This contest is open to all but the copies can be sent only to a US address.
Contest is open till 1 June,2015.



Suji said...

I would love to have a copy of my own and this is a great chance for the same. I wake up, eat, dream, sleep everything food and it is what has connected me with you and a whole lot more great friends. I am sure i can very well connect myself withonica's story from what you have above said. I am already following u on FB and u k ow that��...


Susan Mathew said...

I'm newly married and would love to have this as my first cookbook! :)

Peekaboo said...

Hi Ria,
This is my first comment in this wonderful blog.I am also from Kerala,recently moved to the US.I love the way you write.It seems to come from your heart,sincere and honest.Keep up the good work.
And sure I would love to win the book.I am a newbie in cooking and I am sure this book will be a huge help.

Sariga said...

It'd awesome if I won Monica's book, because who doesn't love it when the love of food, life's little moments, experiences & memories all come together to weave a beautiful tale to complement a brilliant recipe that can be preciously cherished !

Vidhya Viju Govind said...

I have been introduced to Monica thru ur blog..The yummiest butter chicken recipe u shared ..which is the only way I make it.and now this post with some amazing pics has only doubled my curiosity. ..would love to have that book....☺☺

Shalini Sasisankar said...

I would like to win the book for myself..I love cooking and reading stories.I love reading your small stories behind each recipe, Ria:-) .and I am always on lookout of new recipes and new ways to feed my toddler who is a picky eater..

SS said...

Hi Ria,
I never win anything..but want to try to win this book.I was never a foodie until I started cooking for myself and made guinea big of my husband.But it has always been memories of my mom's kitchen and my grandma's kitchen (which no longer exists physically now) that I believe have been my guide to a make me a confident cook I am now.

Would very much love to read the book and try recipes from it after reading your review


Jina Dcruz said...

I would love to win this book..even if I don't, I am going to buy the book (one of the reasons I should win :)).
I am forever fascinated by foods across the world and the stories it tells us. I love personal stories as well as cultural tales associated with food and its evolution. I hope the book will inspire me to revive my now dormant food history blog at http://fooddetectivesdiary.blogspot.com/
I already am a fan of your FB page :)

Radhika Vadher said...

Hi Ria,

I would love to win a copy of Monica Bhide's book.
In the past two years since I got married I found a new passion and thats cooking. Manish is a foody and l keep trying new recipes to keep up to his love for food..now Im a mother and Im already seeing a jr. Manish in Neil and his liking towards food has surprised me already..
I would love to lay my hands on this book and try new recipes for my foody family ��

This Design Journal said...

Hey Ria,

I would love to win this book too, You know why? Because books are to educate and inspire especially those who are not good at the things that it talks about. I am definitely not good at cooking, so it would be wonderful if I get this one to inspire me and teach me right!

And I like you, stalk you and bug you any chance I get already. So - :-)

Sharonscook said...

Hi Ria, your site is my go to for amazing cooking since the proof is in the outcome..... Delicious food from biryanis to Devilishly food cakes. Although I do own baking guides I would love to own a Indian cookery book to help me in trying different unfailing dishes. Hope I stand a chance!! Sharon.

ramani said...

Hi Ria,
Love cooking and trying out new recipes.Would love to win this book.Thank You.

Divya said...

Would love a copy of this book! I'm following you on FB!

Amritha said...

Hi Ria,
I would love to have the book because it sounds like the kind of book I'd love to pick off the shelf and finish part of it enroute to the billing counter....a slice of Monica's life and home cooking...nothing fancy but simple home cooking...a book that complements something which people like you and Monica inspire us to do...get cooking!!!...

Deepthy Chakrapani said...

Love for my foodie hubby, made me venture into the delicious world of cooking . Thanks to ur blog, the journey has been less bumpy but more yummy. Winning the book, wld be like a garnish, without which any dish would be incomplete!!

Deepthy Chakrapani said...

Already Like ur page

farida alihussain said...

Well, first and foremost, I have been always following you, aka stalking your blog for anything and everything I wish to cook or learn. I have subscribed for your post as well to stay closely in touch with your tried recipes. And when it comes to the giveaway, when you think it is worth your time, it would surely be worth my time as well. And when it educates you with new and better recipes, I'ms ure it will be of great help to improvise my cooking style too.

You partially stand as my inspiration to cook, eat and have fun with my family. I saw your anniversary blog post, and the cake you had baked. So beautiful. So if I get a chance to win the giveaway, you know what would happen next? My husband would be more than happy to have a different menu day and night.

And till date, I have not tried cooking through a cookbook. So it is going to be a different experience altogether if I get a chance to win the giveaway :):) Yet, I will not stop stalking your blog till the very end :)

Good day Ria :)

Wanderlust said...

like the words on her blog, this book seems to be a beautiful extension of her..would be a great read on a rainy afternoon to devour and cook from

Deepa said...

Ria you are are storyteller just like Monica..i hope you have a book release someday. I love cookbooks...in fact they are the only books i love to read.Thanks for this opportunity...

And a pinch of love said...

I would love to have a copy of the book.

And a pinch of love said...

I've already liked your page.

lakshmi vnair said...

I really like to try new recipes and your blog is my permanent stop especially for desserts and cakes. For a working woman like me a blog or book which we can trust is always a treasure. You blog is a great example. Whenever I try a recipe from yours I know for sure that it won't fail. :) I would love to have a copy of Monica's book since it would be great to read through her stories/memories and connect the recipes to those.

Unknown said...

I would love to have copy Ria. I have a 3 year old who seems to be born to be a foodie/chef. :) It would be fun to tell him the stories in this book and relate to recipes we can work on together.

Unknown said...

Not sure if my comment went through. I liked the FB page too.

Prakash Pai said...

I liked to cook my food when I was a bachelor. I plan to call it a day and retire in about a year. So, it is time for me to catch up with my old passion and help my wife in the kitchen to try something new.

Reny Zax said...

I'm an ardent blog n follower...wud love a copy for the foodie in me...love to cook n see those smiles going up.....

Manjooo M said...

I collect cookery books and magazines. I love to go through the pages to see the pictures. Some has stories, so I never get bored even if I go through it several times.

I do experiment with recipes, to lessen my effort or to save time. But when it comes to an authentic or a traditional dish, I do follow the instructions as mentioned in the book.

After reading your post I strongly feel that this book is a must read and I should have this in my collection.


anusha mithun said...

hi ria....i would like to own a copy of monicas book because i like to read everything related to food
i m already a follower of your facebook page.....

lakshmi vnair said...

I forgot to mention in my earlier comment - I already liked your facebook page.

Bindu Vinod said...

Honestly, I don't know why I need this book. Probably because of you saying you could not keep it down until you finished it; which means its not just about cooking but life as it reflects from the memories bound with cooking.

SJ said...

Ria, I have been following your blog for nearly a year now and have almost finished reading all of your posts.. But I have never left any comments of encouragement in any of your posts.. Now I feel guilty that I am leaving a comment just because I would like to have a copy.. Apologies but I hope this will help me leave more comments going forward..
Much love to you and baby Ian..

Serene Mathew said...

Ever since I was a kid, I had only dreamt of dancing or playing basketball. Yes, I was a hardcore athlete. Cooking was never my forte and never did I ever dream of it being one. I was just happy doing any other chore I was assigned.

But as I was growing up, I began noticing my mom in the kitchen. From delicious golden brown gulab jamuns and brownish cakes so heavenly … to scrumptious chicken biriyani that is etched in her memory from college days at Church Gate, her love for cooking never ceases. And every time she cooks, she tells stories of her past again and again - about how she navigated through the bazaars not knowing hindi or Marathi and how she replicated the biriyani recipe from her favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant after numerous trials and errors. And even today she wishes that restaurant will be alive and thriving just like she left it 30 years ago.

So that is where I started my journey with experimenting and experiencing food. Yes, you have got to ‘experience’ food for only then will you really enjoy it.

And not just experimenting with cooking. I picked up a habit- a good one or let me say a rather very good one, from my best friend while vacationing with her. She helped me open my mind and soul to experiencing different cuisines. Not looked back once ever since. So, I started trying new cuisines and restaurants, and learning more about it as I ardently blog about it on my personal Facebook page.

Life indeed is all about taking chances right? I took a chance with food and I received many happy and content smiles in return.

So why not?

..why not learn a little more about what inspires people to do what they do?
..why not learn to be a little more like mom and her love for cooking?

For, at the end of the day, all you are left with are memories that you can hold onto and cherish ... as time and the roads keep moving forward without giving you a choice to return to what once was, and relive those moments again.

Serene Mathew

Serene Mathew said...


I have liked your Facebook page as well.

Serene Mathew

Kaveri Thimmaiah said...

Hi Ria

Let me start off by saying that I have been following your blog since quite some time and it also makes up for my late night reading because I love the little anecdotes that go behind each recipe. That’s one of the reasons I’d like Monica’s book. A cookbook without any spicy, sweet, juicy titbits would be as bland as dal without the tadka :P.

Secondly, this is the first time I’m participating in such a ‘contest’ and yayyyy!, the anticipation in itself has gotten me all excited and jumpy (literally as well) as cream poured over caramelised sugar.

Thirdly, I’d love to add cookbooks to my collection of books. The more the choco chips in a cookie, the better it is! As of now, I just have Lorraine Pascale’s ‘A lighter way to Bake’ and if I were to win this book, I’d have a lovely story behind it.

I started cooking only recently and I get most of my recipes online from blogs. For a change I’d love to cook from a book and not constantly having to unlock my phone and refer to the recipe. It’s as time consuming as having to shell and devein prawns!

Apologies for all the cheesy metaphors :p but then chocolate does taste good with salted caramel at times



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