#TTWIBRAT Guest Post: A lasting legacy by Meera Ekkanath Klein + giveaway

This guest post is part of this year's Travel the World in Books Readathon which challenges us to read books set in countries other than our own. Food memories are powerful. Today, I am happy to welcome Meera Klein whose book delves into her ultimate tribute to a food memory creator, her mother. She totally won me over with her pitch that "yummy food and descriptive writing are my strengths." (I adore Indian food.) She's also offering up an e-book/Kindle copy for one of my lucky readers! How could I say no to all that? Welcome Meera!

A lasting legacy by Meera Ekkanath Klein, author of My Mother's Kitchen

Meera and her mother
My mother would never call herself a trendsetter or a foodie. But by today’s standards that is exactly what she was. I was fortunate to spend my childhood in the beautiful Nilgiris or Blue Mountains of south India. My mother was a high school teacher in a small village, a 45-minute bus ride, from Coonoor, one of the three small municipalities in the Nilgiris. Coonoor with its temperate climate was famous for its botanical garden, Sims Park, and the annual Flower and Fruit Shows that were held in the park every May.

It turned out my mother’s bus stop was in front of an unprepossessing building which housed the State Agricultural Department’s Pomological Station. Once in a while the station would sell its unique produce to the public. There was no overt advertising, just a simple handwritten blackboard sign listing the produce.

Whenever my mother saw the sign, she would hurry home and send my sister and I to buy whatever was for sale. Even when money was tight, she would always find a couple of rupees to spare for produce. My mother knew what was important.

Budding foodies?

Chickpea snack!
One day we found tiny artichokes for sale. My mother served the steamed wonders with nutty ghee and lime juice as a dipping sauce. The golden flavor of ghee, the tang of lime and bite of fresh black pepper was a perfect complement to the meaty artichokes.

Another incredible find was a head of delicate butter lettuce. We didn’t have any olive oil or vinegar to dress the greens, so my mother mixed homemade fresh buttermilk with sprigs of aromatic cilantro, a splash of sour tangerine juice, fine salt and plenty of freshly cracked Malabar pepper and tossed the tender butter lettuce in this delicious dressing. One memorable addition to this salad was a handful of fresh peas (from the research station).

We gorged on tiny golden apricots, packed with summery flavor and pomegranates with the palest pink seeds that were so sweet and juicy that I could feel a sugar rush. In the fall we cut open the brilliant orange flesh of crisp persimmons. I savored each slice, storing each honeyed bite as a luscious memory to bring back during winter’s gloom.

One evening we bought a bag of shiny green chilies, a cross between Hatch and Anaheim. My mother stared at them for a while and then proceeded to cook the peppers in tart homemade yogurt until the chilies melted into the thick sauce. As the yogurt evaporated into tangy chunks, she added some vegetable oil to the pan and seared the well-cooked peppers. The finished dish, peppery and piquant, was the ultimate finger food. Was my mother a foodie? You decide.

A fitting tribute

Chappati and Angalina's sweet potato casserole
When I started writing my book, My Mother's Kitchen: A novel with recipes, I knew I wanted share my mother’s excitement and joy of being in the kitchen. I still remember how much she enjoyed her first taste of oven-roasted root vegetables. What this really needs, she said to me, is a few drops of mustard oil. She was right. The pungency of mustard offset the sweetness of the caramelized sweet potatoes and turnips. I miss my mother’s physical presence more than ever, but every time I go to a book club gathering where the hostess proudly displays her version of Aviyal, a vegetable stew, or a pot of tangy Lemon Rice, I know my mother’s memory lives on. The legacy she left behind is tangible and delicious.

About Meera Ekkanath Klein

Meera Klein
Award-winning author, Meera Ekkanath Klein, deftly weaves her love of cooking and story-telling into an irresistible tale. My Mother's Kitchen: A novel with recipes (2014, Homebound Publications) was selected as a Winner in the 2015 International Book Awards in the Multi-Cultural Fiction category. The book was also selected as Finalist in the 2015 National Indie Excellence Book Awards and in 2015 Beverly Hills International Book Awards, both in the Multi-Cultural Fiction category.

She was one of 40 authors at the celebrated 2015 Authors on the Move fundraiser for the Sacramento Library Foundation dinner and auction.  She was featured on Capital Public Radio on April 2, 2015 and interviewed by host Beth Ruyak. She has participated in the Local Author Festival at the Sacramento Library and will be a presenter at the Great Valley Book Fest in October. She will also make presentations at the Woodland Friends of the Library annual meeting in June and at the Greenhaven/Pocket area Library in July.

A former newspaper reporter and columnist, Klein, honed her writing skills in a busy newsroom. She mastered the art of Indian cooking in her own mother’s kitchen in the beautiful Blue Mountains or Nilgiris of south India. Klein currently lives in northern California and is completing a sequel to My Mother’s Kitchen, as well as a YA book based on Indian legends and mythology.

About the Book

My Mother's Kitchen: A novel with recipes is an enchanting place filled with promise, change and good food. If the weathered walls of this magical room could talk they would tell the story of Meena and her childhood life. Each chapter is a slice in her young life and depicts her spunk and youthful spirit. A visit to the local Fruit and Flower Show becomes an adventure as told by Meena. Her distress at finding out about her aunt's dark secret or her joy of making a new friend are all told in her naive, yet pure voice. Her mother is a central character in her life and it is no wonder that the kitchen is a special place of healing and rejuvenation, not only for Meena but for other characters like Kashi and Ayah.

Check out the book and Klein’s website for more tasty delights: http://meeraklein.com/

Giveaway Time!

Meera is giving away one e-book or Kindle edition of Her Mother's Kitchen, open international!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Image courtesy of potowizard at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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© guiltless readingMaira Gall