Karma and Chai

Today I have another great book for a gift idea:  Karma and the Art of Butter Chicken  by Monica Bhide.   I received a free ebook copy for an honest review.
About the book:
Touted as where Slumdog Millionaire meets The Hundred-Foot Journey,  Bhide’s  book follows orphaned Eshaan as he attempts to feed and nourish his nation’s hungry.
Raised by Buddhist monks in Delhi after his mother’s untimely and tragic death, Eshaan sets out on the challenging quest to feed and nourish the hungry so they do not suffer her same fate. A sliver of hope appears in the form of a local TV cooking competition. Winning would offer the solution to all his problems: money for his mission and the chance to impress the girl he loves. But to win this competition, Eshaan first must face a secret that has the potential to destroy his life and his dreams.  Can a young life that has been defined by a crisis ever really thrive?
“The past and present mingle in this charming story about the healing power of food.” Washington Independent Review of Books
About the author:
An engineer-turned-writer and entrepreneur, Bhide left a six-figure job to pursue her dreams. She will be featured on The Kojo Nnamdi Show this fall as well as during “book club evenings” at Whole Foods Markets, and is best known for her cookbooks, collection of short stories, and her website. The Chicago Tribune named her “one of seven writers to watch,” and her food writing has appeared in Food & WineBon AppétitSaveurThe Washington PostHealthThe New York TimesLadies Home Journal, and many other well-known publications. 
For more information: www.monicabhide.com
Now for my review:
Bhide (and Eshaan, the main character) had me on page one: “He smiles as he realizes he may possibly be the only person ever to enter a cooking studio with a monk by his side.”

Then, I hate to say, Bhide lost me for a bit. The cast of characters (and I mean there are some characters) is long and I found myself thinking, “Who is this person?”

Let me start with the main character, Eshaan. Eshaan was orphaned during his formative years due to an absent father and a tragic loss. Hunger plays a major role in the book and although Eshaan was taken in and raised by monks, he continues to obsess about hunger and his loss.  Eshaan is dedicated to his dream of feeding the beggars of Delhi in an innovative “restaurant” idea: Buddha’s Karma Kitchen. With the help of some dedicated friends, he sees his dream to fruition.

The setting of the book is a Buddhist monastery, but it seems like most of Eshaan’s friends are wealthy individuals from Kitt and her father,Dr. Sinha, to his best friend Loveleen. If I were a Bollywood film aficionado, I imagine the first part of the book was like an exuberant Indian film and I wonder if Bhide was going for a loud and fast-paced vibe.

Although there were lots of twists and turns and some implausibility during the second half, I become more engaged. To discuss the final part of the book would give away way too much.I would recommend this book and am looking forward to the sequel.

I did enjoy Eeshan’s poetic journaling that separated most of the chapters.

Now for my paired recipe:
Chai tea is mentioned in the first chapter of the book and the spicy aroma is prevalent throughout.   I came across this spice recipe mix last year and I use it in everything from cookies to coffee.

Chai Spice

3 T. ground cardamom
1 T. ground cinnamon
½ t. ground cloves
½ t. ground nutmeg

Combine spices.  Store in an air-tight container.


How to use:

  1. Use instead of pumpkin pie spice in recipes.
  2. Use instead of apple pie spice in recipes.
  3. Add to waffles, pancakes, or muffins that call for cinnamon for a spicy breakfast.
  4. Stir into coffee.
  5. Add a bit to hot apple cider.

Chai Spice from Eliot's Eats

Whip up some of this spice mix for a super easy and delicious smelling gift.   Adding a bottle of homemade Chai Mix to a gift basket with Karma and the Art of Butter Chicken would be a gift I know I would like to receive.  See my recent Amaro post for another great book gift.

I posted this recipe earlier along with a Maple-Chai Pumpkin Muffin recipe.

You can read my review on Goodreads here.

2 comments to Karma and Chai

  • That sounds like a great cookbook. I like to make my own spice mix too. Thanks for sharing, Debra.

  • kitchenriffs

    We make a hot apple cider drink with dark rum that uses spices pretty similar to your Chai spice blend. I should just make that! SO much easier. And I can use it for other things, too. I find when I have a blend on hand that I use it more. Go figure. 🙂 BTW, I’m taking off for the rest of the year, so I want to wish you happy holidays!