Books & Authors

The Ivory Key by Akshaya Raman

Seema Reads | The Ivory Key

In this epic YA fantasy debut, magic, a prized resource, is the only thing between peace and war. When magic runs out, four estranged royal siblings must find a new source before…

mystery books

Must-Have Mystery Books

Enjoy some literary twists, turns, mayhem — and murder (yes, all the gory stuff), with these thrilling mystery book picks

East Indian Kitchen by Michael Swamy

Delicacies From Across India

One of the big attractions of India is that no two towns, even those just a few miles away from each other, are the same. The cooking of Andhra Pradesh, for example, varies from mini-region to mini-region. The coastal preparations in the Rayalaseema region and Visakhapatnam district are dissimilar. Just a few hours by train away from Visakhapatnam, the city of Vijayawada serves up a level of heat and spice that can make the smoke come out of your ears, and tears run down your nose. Hyderabad in the next state is influenced by the region’s centuries-old Nizami rule, and so the biryani is unlike any other in the country. The same goes for every town and every region in the country: meaning that in its plurality and diversity, a whole lifetime could go into sampling the meals of every single region, small town, and large city in India. The myriad communities drive the difference. So to know India’s communities, as intimidating an endeavor as that is, is to know India.

Food tells stories of winners and losers, the oppressors and the oppressed. Of where nomads come from and the geography of the region. Thus, regional cooking can teach us a lot about the culture that shapes the land and the country it is a part of. So for this issue’s food special, we’ve decided to explore the regional cooking of India, through cookbooks! Each cookbook tells a story. Let’s dive in.

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Maunika Gowardhan prepares Rajasthani khade masala ka murgh

Getting to know Maunika Gowardhan, chef and author of “Thali”

One of the most delightful gifts of Indian food to the world appears in a thali. A thali is a traditional arrangement of delicacies served on a platter, found in almost every region of India. From north to south, east to west, each region varies tremendously, right from the shape of the plate to the manner in which dishes are arranged. In Rajasthan, food is served literally on an enormous round platter, while in Kerala, a sadhya is arranged on a banana leaf. To understand India’s diversity, U.K.-based chef and writer Maunika Gowardhan says, look no further than a thali.
The more you talk to Gowardhan about Indian food, the more you realize how little you know about India’s kaleidoscopic diversity. She has been in food for almost two decades and cooked alongside the likes of Jamie Oliver and Heston Blumenthal. Hundreds of thousands of people read and attempt her recipes: South Asians trying to replicate the food of home and non-South Asians who want a taste of authentic Indian food in their kitchens. Having visited the subcontinent “at least 15 times in the past five years,” she lives her life in a revelry of Indian flavors. Few are more qualified to write the book on it. And she has. “Thali,” an exploration of dishes served on platters across India, is a labor of love created in homage to the diversity in India’s regional cuisine and a taste of home.
SEEMA sat down with Maunika Gowardhan to learn more.

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Reading Love, Sex and Intimacy in South Asia

This week, we’re going to be spotlighting some incredible works by South Asian women who unravel the complicated feelings of love, sex and intimacy.

farah naz rishi

Farah Naz Rishi and A Strange and Long Journey

Farah Naz Rishi describes what she poured into her new romance novel, “It’s All Coming Back To You,” a Desi-centric tale for the mushy times.

Sweta Vikram

Sweta Vikram’s Tale of Survival

As a young girl growing up in Rourkela, India, Sweta Vikram loved signing autographs on her school books, then covering them with standard brown paper. Vikram continues to sign books, albeit as autographs on published books sporting her name.

“A Piece of Peace” is Vikram’s new book, which will be launched September 21. Her latest effort comes after 12 earlier books that have covered topics including poetry, yoga, multi-culturism and wellness. While the themes may be diverse, there is a common thread that runs through them all – women empowerment. Vikram’s books focus on teaching a more holistic approach to creativity, productivity, health, and nutrition.

“A Piece of Peace” is about Vikram’s personal struggle with a near-fatal disease. It is an autobiographical account of her fight for survival and her subsequent victory. The book is about her journey back to wellness, through mindfulness and Ayurvedic healing. It exemplifies the true resilience of the human spirit. In the book, she shares her vulnerabilities, recommendations, interviews experts, and reminds us, that our response to a situation, determines our path in life.

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Author Monica Bhide

The Soul Catcher by Monica Bhide

Storyteller and globe-trotter, Monica Bhide is an award-winning author, literary coach, and educator whose specialty is crossing boundaries — chronological, geographical, religious, and economical — to take her readers on a journey of magical realism.

Her latest book, “The Soul Catcher,” releases on September 1, and is a fascinating and captivating tale of magical realism, exploring fate, faith, loss and love. 

It is a story about Yamini Goins, a woman who has the ability to capture someone’s dying soul and keep it alive. The woman is faced with a dilemma, when she sees her betrayed lover who desperately needs her help. Will she helped him or not? The story is told in 12 parts, put together like a mosaic puzzle, compelling you to read all the stories to discover what happened in the beginning.

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