Springingtiger's Blog

Indian Takeaway by Hardeep Singh Kohli

Indian Takeaway was published in 2008, I have wasted four years, by now I could have read it several times, and perhaps tweeted choice sentences. I suspect it is one of those books one buys because one knows the author or, more accurately, his parents. Wanting some light reading while I waited for a relative to die, I took the book from my shelves and quickly found myself regretting the years it had sat untouched.

Indian Takeaway stars two of my favourite places, Glasgow and India, although much of the book is set in parts of India I have never visited, Hardeep captures the sense of the place in a way that draws in the reader. I loved his reminiscences of the Glasgow of his childhood because it was the same Glasgow familiar to me as a young man. Hardeep obviously loves Glasgow and describes it with affectionate warmth. I particularly enjoyed his stories about his parents who are two of the nicest people one could hope to meet, Hardeep captures them very well and I was left knowing more about them than it would have occurred to me I wanted.

The real point of the book is Hardeep’s quest to understand his identity, is he British, Indian, Scottish or a combination? It is a very real question for second generation immigrants, one with which I know my wife has also wrestled, although she is an immigrant she grew up in Scotland. Hardeep went to India to explore his identity by cooking British food for Indians, an idea which, however outlandish it may sound, seems entirely appropriate for him. Hardeep writes well about food because he loves it with a passion, as anyone who saw him make his way to the final of Celebrity Master Chef will know. There is much of food to savour in this book.

I think the blurbs on the book cover are too muted, mine might have read, “I peed myself laughing” and there are several places in the book where I did laugh out loud. It is a most unusual travelogue,a journey through India, through time, space, menus, and the strange mind of Hardeep Kohli. I intend to read it again soon. If you haven’t read it don’t wait four years, it’s a book to be devoured with pleasure and perhaps a little pickle and rice.


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