Hill Rag Magazine – November 2020

Page 84

. arts and dining .

the LITERARY HILL A Compendium of Readers, Writers, Books, & Events by Karen Lyon

Curry in a Hurry If you love Indian food but balk at recipes with pages of steps and an endless list of exotic ingredients, Varu Chilakamarri hears you. “After a long day,” she writes, “the last thing many of us have time for is prepping and soaking lentils overnight, grinding spices and nuts into a paste, or stirring hot milk on the stove for hours.” So the busy DC attorney has produced a cookbook that offers shortcuts without sacrificing flavor. In “Indian Cuisine for the Busy Vegetarian,” Chilakamarri presents more than 60 illustrated recipes for chutneys, curries, lentil and rice dishes, and desserts, many of which take only a few minutes to prepare and use the same basic ingredients she recommends for stocking your pantry. Her sensible techniques and tips—including how to rescue a dish that’s too bland or too spicy—clearly come from hard-won knowledge. The intimate essays interspersed among the recipes reveal a girl who grew up preferring American fish sticks to her mother’s spicy lentil stews. It wasn’t until Chilakamarri got to college and law

school that she began appreciating Indian food and calling her mother for recipes. Unfortunately, “the techniques were too time consuming and the recipes always seemed to require some ingredient that I didn’t have.” She quickly learned to negotiate—and to look for ways to trim the process. The result is a cookbook that doesn’t apologize for using storebought nut butters, steam-in-bag vegetables, or canned potatoes. If you’re a purist with high-toned tastebuds and time to spare, “Indian Cuisine for the Busy Vegetarian” probably isn’t for you. But, having tried a number of recipes myself—and served “Chicken” Korma and Jeera Rice to a very grateful fellow vegetarian—I defy anyone to resist these savory and nutritious offerings. Varu Chilakamarri has published several food essays and contributed to the Huffington Post. She lives on Capitol Hill with her husband and son. Check out her blog at www.busyvegetariankitchen.com or on Instagram @busyvegetariankitchen.

Confronting Childhood Monsters

Varu Chilakamarri shows how to whip up delicious Indian dishes without spending all day in the kitchen.


Descriptions vary—since no one has ever actually seen one—but everyone growing up in Brocland knows two things for sure about the half man/ half beast race known as the Maer: they’re covered in hair and they’re fierce and vicious fighters. So when someone—

In “Hollow Road,” a fantasy novel by Dan Fitzgerald, three childhood friends team up to undertake a risky mission.

or something—starts killing off villagers in a gruesome fashion, suspicion naturally falls on the Maer. In “Hollow Road,” a new fantasy novel by Dan Fitzgerald, a returning warrior named Carl is hired to deliver the body of a fallen comrade to their home village of Brocland. Given the possible dangers posed by the Maer, he enlists the help of two childhood friends to accompany him on his mission. Joining him are Sinnie, an athlete and expert archer, and Finn, a novice scholar working to enhance his supernatural gifts. Or, as Carl says, “We’ve got a real-life circus performer, a fledgling mage with two or three piddling tricks up his sleeve, and a young soldier who spent the better part of this past year camping out in the mud. We’re ready for anything!” They may be ready, but their world is full of dangers, both real and imagined. It’s up to the intrepid trio to sort it all out and, eventually, to confront the mythology that dominated their childhood games. Are the Maer real? And if so, how much of a threat do they really pose? The realms that Fitzgerald creates in “Hollow Road” are as captivating as the coming-of-age pilgrimage that Carl, Sinnie, and Finn undertake.

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