Author: Sadia Dehlvi
"Jasmine & Jinns" | CULINARY HERITAGAE OF THE CAPITAL
In this lovingly crafted volume of food and memories, the author recalls old conversations and carefully prepared dastarkhwan that enriched her childhood; elaborates Ankita Sachdeva
Written with lots of love it makes an otherwise mundane cookbook highly readable through it’s innovative format. Sprinkled with innumerable old Delhi anecdotes and rare pictures the book starts with the ancestral journey of Dehlvis since the reign of Shah Jahan. Why Ballimaran was called so and what is the bada in Bada Hindu Rao are some of the things makes interesting reading. Also the supposedly bad influence of Punjabi on spoken languages of Dilliwalas make for good humour. Every short chapter is written directly and from the heart, with interesting history of the changing food culture of the city, woven around the personal memories of the author. Particularly touching are the story of her palatial home Shama Kothi and Apa Saeeda – the author’s mother like care taker. The stories of jinns peacefully co existing with families make it a page turner.
In Jasmine & Jinns, Dehlvi weaves tales of Delhi’s ancient past with stories of her growing up in the city. As part of a large and hospitable family, she learned early the skill and pleasures of entertaining at home. In this lovingly crafted volume of food and memories, she recalls the conversations and carefully prepared dastarkhwan that enriched her childhood. She takes us inside her home and the kitchens of other Dilliwalas, sharing with us origin stories and recipes of many classic dishes including biryani, qorma, kofta, shaami kebab and kheer. In addition to these, there are recipes for season specialities and festivals. These home-cooked dishes are a distillation of Delhi’s old cuisines and a reminder of how rich and historically layered our daily lives are. From home to bazaar, Sadia takes us through the famous by-lanes of the old city to show us where the best jalebi, dalbiji, aloo poori, dahi bhalla, nihari and mithai continue to be served. In her telling, and the photographs that accompany her words, the city she knows so well comes alive in all its magical, delicious complexity.
The Mughals left but gifted Delhi with cuisines that remain an integral part of the city’s cultural heritage. According to the author, it was in the 18th century when Chandini Chowk acquired the reputation of one of the world’s best bazaars. While elaborating about this place, she also gives the readers an anthropological background of the existing communities. According to her, she belongs to the community of Delhi Suadagaran. She also tells us about the history of this particular community – making Jasmine & Jinns an interesting read.
She then takes us on a visual tour to the narrow streets of old Delhi comprising of various prominent historical food junctions. These are the places which keen foodies have heard of. At the same time, she also recollects and narrates the amazing memories she had created while growing up.
The book throws ample light on age-old Islamic traditions and cultures; bringing alive the everyday culinary practices of Delhi layered under rich heritage. It is a must read for everyone willing to take a dig on the past of various mouth-watering Indian delicacies alongside exploring different dimensions of life. While on it, the book would definitely make you drool for a plate of nihari or jalebis or probably some freshly-cooked biryani.
On the other hand interest in some old preparations has been only increasing. The book is more than a cook book and that is it’s beauty. Photographs and cover collage with inside jacket image of silky Jasmines are tastefully done.