HT Picks; New Reads
The reading list this week includes a volume that traces the history of Hindi-language journalism in India from the early days of nationalist newspapers to the present, an intimate chronicle of a family of writers, and a compendium of dals and dal-based dishes
From Raj to Swaraj and Beyond
In India, the English-language media is considered the ‘national media’, while vernacular media remains “regional”. However, from the 1980s onwards, demographic changes and growth in literacy in the Hindi heartland broadened the market for Hindi newspapers.
In this book, well-known journalist Mrinal Pande takes us through the history of Hindi-language journalism in India. She discusses its early days as nationalist newspapers in the colonial period;its subservience to the English print media in the early decades of independence; the fillip it received in the post-Emergency 1980s when an inclusive Hindi, propped up by regional dialects, became the best vehicle for furthering Indian democracy.
The author also focuses on the current digitisation of all media, the increasing influence of social media platforms, and heavy reliance on advertisements.
Examining the close connections between politics, the corporates, and newspaper/news channels, the book asks: Can editorials continue to care for individual rights and local cultures, given their proximity to political and corporate lobbyists? How far will our Constitution-given freedom of information and speech stretch if media laws are amended?*
A 1960s childhood
Spare and elegant, Raw Umber is as much about the steady pulse of Sara Rai’s 1960s childhood as it is abut the nature of remembering. and the role that memory plays in shaping a writer’s sensibility.
With the figure of her grandfather Premchand looming over her childhood, and with others in her family – grandmother, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins – also writers, it is hardly a surprise that Sar Rai “fell into” writing. Rai is a bilingual writer travelling between Hindi and English, with her fiction primarily in Hindi. Perhaps inevitably for a fiction writer, the boundary between memory and imagination gets blurred. It is the unconscious jottings of the mind, and the cadences that enter the ears, the inner life that develops during years of unhurried living in places like Allahabad and Banaras that prepare the ground for the fiction writer.
In this intimate chronicle, some of the characters in the family gallery are vividly brought to life. Sara Rai’s Drummond Road home in Allahabad, her mother’s ancestral Nawab-ki-Deorhi haveli, and her grandmother Shivrani Devi’s Godowlia House in Banaras – all have their own tales to tell.
Raw Umber is a work of deep humanity told with affectionate humour and an austers lyricism. In the telling of the story, Rai has stuck to her own slightly eccentric remembering of the ever-changing fugitive past.*
Setting pulses racing
Dals have been an essential part of the human diet for centuries and they are an integral part of Indian cuisine. There are many enticing varieties of dals to choose from.
Pratibha Karan, in The Book of Dals, takes you on an incredible journey to different regions of the country and shows how locally available spices and herbs, vegetables and fruit impact the food of that region. The variety of dals and dal-based dishes that you can make with these are phenomenal and mind-boggling.
This book offers many varieties of beautiful, fragrant and beguiling dals that will have anyone savouring them in raptures. From the southern India, you will find Telangana sambar, khatti dal and dalcha with vegetables and meat. They are made using delicious combinations of chillies, tamarind, cloves, cardamom, pepper, coconut, curry leaves and drumsticks. It also has recipes such as kootu from Tamil Nadu and the famous bisi bele huliyana from Karnataka.
You will also find lentils in coconut milk, katachi amti and moong sprouts from Maharashtra, and dhansak, a Parsi dish, from Gujarat in western India. Dals from eastern India such as chana dal Bengali-style and Assamese mati maa are included. From the northern India, Delhi rajma and Punjabi dal makhani find a place in the book.
This book is not limited by borders. It includes exotic dal recipes from the neighbouring countries like Nepal and Sri Lanka, and some delicious and wholesome dal-based soups too.*
*All copy from book flap.