Gone with the Vindaloo is a charming book by Vikram Nair. Tracking the lives of three generations of cooks (Kalaam, Param and Pakwaan),it covers the better part of a century, romping gaily through British India, Betty Crocker, World War II, the hippie movement redolent with its hash, booze and acid freely mixing with ‘peace’ and ‘free-living’, baby boomers, and America’s journey towards ‘spiritual enlightenment’ India-style. A food-lover’s delight, it is liberally sprinkled with descriptions of all things culinary, from the enticing aromas of spices and herbs, the lush colours of the fruits and vegetables, and the tastes of varied foods from crisp cheeni ke parathe and jalebis, Kathi rolls and chai to pancakes and muffins till one can almost hear the crackle of spices hitting pure desi ghee, taste the thick cream of the malai lassi and smell the fresh tartness of the lemon juice as it drizzled over freshly prepared chaat. Alongside all this it is liberally spiced with somewhat crude humour (it even begins with a mildly pornographic dream), replete with expletives and abuses, to add more colour to this already wildly colourful story.
June 2014, volume 38, No 6