Book Giveaway- “Those Delicious Letters” by Sandeepa Mukherjee Datta

Book giveaway alert!!! Read till the end

When I review a book or a movie, I try to be as impersonal and objective as possible. However, for this book, I would make an exception and start with a personal story.

Once upon a time, a young lady called Sandeepa, in far away New Jersey was at the crossroads of career, motherhood and culture. She started a food blog called “Bong Mom’s Cookbook”. She was anxious to leave a legacy of Bengali culture and tradition through food recipes for her daughters. Her only incentive was that one day her daughters would grow up and cook those recipes and fill their kitchens with the same aroma that filled her warm kitchen. Thus, diligently she started posting on her blog about various Bengali recipes along with stories about her childhood, her parents, grandparents, her home in Kolkata and the hills where she grew up.

Almost a decade ago, back here in India, another young woman (yours truly) was also at the crossroads of career and impending motherhood. One night, this woman had a pregnancy induced craving for “shukto” (a Bengali bitter version of Malayalee avial) that her departed mother used to make. Strangely when her mother was alive she never liked Shukto and never bothered to learn the recipe. But now that the mother was no more, she was desperately craving for that particular food (pregnancy hormones to be blamed). She decided to find the recipe and make it herself.

She called her grandmother and couple of aunts; everyone gave their own version of the recipe. She figured out that they were different from her Mom’s recipe. Then she tried making it from the book of Bela Dey, a famous Bengali food author. The shukto turned out a “politically correct” version with all the proper ingredients and exact measurements but strangely it didn’t taste like the one her mother used to make. She felt frustrated. In her exasperation she did a Google search and came across the recipe on a blog by someone who claimed to be a Bong Mom.

Next day, she made shukto exactly the way it was mentioned on the blog. With steamed rice she took the first morsel and Bingo!! It tasted exactly like the one her Ma used to make. For a moment she felt that her Ma had cooked it for her.

This was the beginning of a journey between a blogger and a reader. The blogger started sharing her life and recipes on her blog and the reader lapped up every bit of it. The blogger was an unknown woman in a foreign land yet someone she could absolutely relate. Her stories had such a nostalgic appeal that the reader almost got addicted. The reader was never an ardent cook but the recipes that the blogger posted had a strange appeal that forced the reader to try them so many times. Thank you Bong Mom.

About the Book

When I started reading Sandeepa’s second book “Those Delicious Letters”, I found an uncanny resemblance to my journey with Bong Mom. In the book, forty year old Shubhalaxmi starts receiving monthly letters with traditional Bengali recipes from a mysterious lady in Calcutta claiming to be her grandmother. Drawn by the nostalgia in the letters and lured into the delicious world of forgotten food, Shubha starts experimenting with the recipes.(In my case they were blog posts from an unknown woman from a distant land).

The protagonist Subhalaxmi is an extremely relatable character. She almost represents our entire generation where we all are trying to wear too many hats and balance them. She has her own vulnerabilities and idiosyncrasies. The humor in the book would keep the readers hooked. There is hardly any page that would bore you or fail to amuse you. The letters from the woman, who refers herself as Didan, tells the story of a bygone era.

Traipsing through a year filled with delicious food and memories, Shubha tackles heartbreaks, marriage, parenting, adventure and a failing business, with wit and élan. Does Shubha find out who writes her those letters? Can she save her marriage and business? What happens to the grandmother who shares her life and food through those letters? A rich tapestry of rediscovering love and family while straddling two continents, peppered with humor, colorful characters and lip-smacking food! The added bonus are the recipes at the end of each chapter. The recipe of hinger kochuri was so enticing that I woke up at 12 am to soak the urad daal.

The Hinger Kochuri that I made

As promised at the beginning, I am going to give away a free copy of the book “Those Delicious Letters” by Sandeepa Mukherjee Datta. You just have to answer the following questions. The best answer would win a free copy.

*****conditions:: The contest is only for readers in India.

  1. Do you love to cook?

2. What or who inspires you to cook?

3. Name your favourite recipe from your mom’s or grand-mom’s kitchen?

Name of the book: Those Delicious Letters
Author: Sandeepa Mukherjee Datta
Publisher: Harper Collins India

Download the free first Chapter

First Chapter-Those Delicious Letters

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13 thoughts on “Book Giveaway- “Those Delicious Letters” by Sandeepa Mukherjee Datta

  1. Arun dahiya says:

    Wow. This book sounds like something that makes you nostalgic and takes you on a journey of rediscovering cuisine that is sprinkled with love and memories. Waiting to read this book soon.

    Yes, I enjoy cooking .

    Frankly, being on a restrictive diet due to health conditions and insatiable desire for tempting food inspired me to learn cooking. Also my aunt’s cooking. She is the best cook in our family. And her determination to zero food waste is something that made me respect her more and learn from her.

    My favourite food – Mint lemon rice is a comfort food. It soothes the soul.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Shilpa Gupte says:

    Honestly, I am not an avid cook. I do like to cook but only when I have to make something I relish. Else, it’s just another chore I like to avoid as much as I can. This is so not politically right answer, I know, but we are friends and I am going to be honest with you! ;P
    In answer to your queries:
    I like to cook, when it’s something I south Indian food, or when I am in the right kinda mood.
    My mum and my hubby inspire me to cook, coz they are awesome cooks, and perfectionists.
    Puran Poli is my all time fav from my mom’s kitchen. I can eat as many as she can cook. 😛


  3. Obsessivemom says:

    I remember you writing about the Bong mom once earlier too and I love how she inspired you. The book does sound great.
    To answer your questions:
    1. Do you love to cook? Not particularly. I get these phases though when I cook up a bit.
    2. What or who inspires you to cook? I’m going to give a very Nirupa Roy answer and say it’s the kids. I don’t think I ever spent as much time in the kitchen as I do for the children even now.
    3. Name your favourite recipe from your mom’s or grand-mom’s kitchen? My grandmom used to make a sweet kadhi that had a jaggery-tamarind base. Used to be yum. Nobody much cared for it except her and me. Haven’t had it since she passed away.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Natasha says:

    1. I am a whimsical cook. But when I cook, I cook up a storm of lip-smacking fare. I hope to cook more often. Atleast carry forward Ma’s legacy.

    2. MA and MIL totally! And now my 12 year old who is a chef par excellence. I can actually be her sous chef!

    3. Favourite recipes are quite a few but the best is Jhingey Posto or alu posto, posto bata, posto boda aar urad white daal. 😋
    Now I can’t wait for lunch as that’s the menu, but with musoor daal! 😃😃

    Liked by 2 people

      • Maniparna Sengupta Majumder says:

        Your story of finding the Bong mom and her recipes is interesting. It’s really difficult to pick a specific authentic recipe from a plethora of variations and, the recipe of shukto particularly varies according to the different districts of Bangladesh, though, the basic remains more or less same.

        My answers—

        Yes, I love to cook but not on a daily basis. One thing is, whenever I cook, once or twice in a week, I love to serve the end products in an artistic way. It makes me happy as I consider cooking as a form of art.

        My own self, rather, my love for food inspires me to cook 🤤🤤 Grossly put, it’s called ‘lobh’ or ‘nola’!

        ‘Kochuu bata” made by my mom is the thing I can die for!
        Also, mom-made ‘koi machher ganga-jamuna’. This particular recipe is almost a lost one.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Shalzmojo says:

    Wow! What a wonderful ode to your experience with the blogger and her recipes. This is such a heart felt post Balaka – reminded me on some level of Julia n Julie…….. Just the way you have narrated the premise of the book, makes me long to hold it and read. So I will throw my hat in the ring for this copy by answering your questions

    1) Yes I do love to cook but not the mundane routine of “having to” cook (if you know what I mean)
    2) Healthy cooking is what inspires me to cook for myself and try out newer recipes / food systems, etc. Like I got hooked onto fermented food and then experimented with sourdough / kombucha brewing, etc.
    3) Its got to be this chocolate cake that I learned to bake since I was 13 years old thats my mom recipe but was handed down to her from her mom. I can make it with eyes closed now and have passed it on to so many people who have all told me it turns out just perfect. I used to make it on an old oven- the round ones with a glass insert in the top half; mine didnt have the glass as it had broken off and it was never on the monthly budget to fix it. So I innovated by putting a steel thali on top of the hole and praying everytime that it would bake. That oven is still lying somewhere in the attic for sure 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sumita says:

    Haha…Hi this is Sumita..I love the way you discovered about Bong Mom! I am following her blog for more than a decade now…and trust me like you I too get hooked by her writing and recipes. She touches the mind while writing about food and shes got a wonderful sense of humour! All this had inspired me to create my own
    Yes, I do love to cook, it gives me immense pleasure…to cook for someone I cook for someone who loves to eat! It’s a journey…so mesmerizing…with the sound of cutting chopping mixing boiling and utensils..the fire…the warmth..the aroma…and finally the flavour of the dish bringing in so much happiness …the smile on your loved ones faces.
    One of the recipes that I learnt from my grandmom is PhoolKopi’r Teyl. It’s more than just a recipe…its an emotion for me as it brings back so many wonderful memories of the joint family setup of North Calcutta.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sushil Rudra says:

    Wonderful expositions and also expression about the Bong Mom you discussed. I’m also motivated and thinking about my grandma’ s recipes like Sukto , Dhokar Dalna, Rasar jhol etc and Aaaluposto cooked by my mother was superb. My mother left us 25 years ago and my grandma had died in the year 1980 , but still I do feel their recipes. Generally, we like to have this recipes, but new generation ( my young daughter) mostly favours Biryani, chicken , chaumin, dhosa, momo – these modern foods. But when her mother cooks Bengali traditional recipes, she also likes it. Specially , Muroghanto , Begun – chingri curry is her favourite dish. So modern recipes though influenced them much , but at the same time if our traditional recipes be cooked and served them , I think they’ll absolutely like it.

    Liked by 1 person

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