Sometime back I had updated my status on Facebook about my favourite F-words – Family, Friends, Food and Fun. Imagine my surprise when I chanced upon a book with the same title ! The F-word by Mita Kapur. Food is the main protagonist and this book does complete justice to it. The only problem is that reading it will make you want to raid the pantry. I was quite depressed when I had to eat an uninteresting dinner after wading through descriptions of melt-in-the-mouth kebabs and delicately flavoured soups !
The F-Word is all about food and family. The narrative weaves through all the major events in the author’s life with a lot of recipes scattered around, which adds flavour to the incidents mentioned. Mita Kapur is part of a joint family which includes her husband, 3 children, father and mom- in-law, brother and sis-in-law, and their children. Life in a joint family is not something I’ve ever experienced and I loved reading about them. The first chapter just pulls you in and it’s quaintly titled, Papad, Peanuts or Pepperoni. There’s a line about kebabs in here which is so beautiful. ” The taste of smoke on the tongue, the smoothness of saffron in the body of the mince – the spirit is rarefied and the senses filled with wonder“. The book has a lot of fascinating stories of how certain dishes came to be named and about the cooking methods adopted for some others. I loved the useful tidbits scattered through, like “Any recipe using arhar ki dal has to have an extra dollop of ghee. It’s dryness has to be countered, like a sharp-tongued lady has to be mollified with sweet talking“. Mita takes us along with her to humble restaurants with the most yummy food, favoured food destinations, forts and grand hotels. The characters are unforgettable; there’s the non-veg loving,romantic husband, the loving mom-in-law who gets anxious about her sons’ health if they have to eat veggies, the extremely heavy teenage nephew who is a gastronome, a sassy teenage daughter and a cook CB( Chand Bahadur) who has a running feud with the author on control of the kitchen.
I could identify with a lot of situations Mita has mentioned, from veggie hating kids to having to make- do with whatever’s in the fridge. The recipes are a treat to read and range from the succulent Kakori Kebab to the sinful Chocolate Mousse Cake. (Incidentally, today my children made Mita’s Banana Walnut Cake and it was excellent.) The ingredients used are not too exotic since the author mentions in the foreword that such stuff is not available in a city like Jaipur. All the more reason to try out the recipes since exotic and me don’t go well together !
Mita’s style is very informal and contains incidents which happen to all of us, many times over.I really liked this book, especially since it has my favourite ingredient, humour ! It’s a fun culinary journey which is guaranteed to make your mouth water and make you want to rustle up something. (Go on, try out some of Mita’s recipes and it will turn out perfectly :))