Wednesday, 13 December 2017

First Date with LitFesting!

The Jaipur Literature Festival,  previewed in the capital- here's what The Insider made of it!
When Shashi Tharoor, equates himself with Elizabeth Taylor's sixth husband, 'having nothing more to add to the discussion' as his co-panelists had deliberated upon all readings of the topic, its the end of the word (pun intended). Its no surprise when in the same breath, the articulate word churner casts his pearls of wisdom with wit and insight, in equal measure. 
Its Time! JLF'18
This was a slice from the discussion I just about made it to, at the packed-to-the-gills, Diwan-E Aamthat trumpeted the arrival of the Jaipur Literature Festival, 2018. (Save the  Date!) 'Populism is the Greatest threat to Democracy', was what was being deliberated upon. The perceptive discussion soon metamorphosed into an elocution by individual panelists. I reckon this was so because of the absence of point of contention within the topic and among the speakers. 
Those on the dais nodded in agreement with the axiom of populism being the ability to pull wool over the eyes of the masses and its variations (similar to the debate in last year's JLF on post-truths), discounting the plurality of truth and also abstained from playing the minority card seeking the majority to call out populists. Populism isn't budging anywhere, anytime soon, was my take away from the presentation and that there are no binaries in populism as Rakshanda Jalil sagaciously pointed out. The absence of a Q&A, I  understand could be because of the running out of time, made it out to appear a rather exclusive chat for a festival meant to be for the public. Perhaps that's why it was the curtain raiser- and the best of the fest is yet to come! Aspects impacted by populism in democracy such as that of discounting merit, impact on nation's security, and its reverberations in the echo chambers of social media would have also made for sound text. 
Is Populism a threat to Democracy?- Panelists at work 
As the talk came to a close, a scene ditto to the one following the plane having landed, flashed at the venue.  No prizes for guessing if most audiences stayed on to hear the many well deserved thank-yous to the sponsors. (I did though!) Such literary and cultural events need to be supported by applauding their supporters!  
The milling crowd spilt on to the sprawling lawns of the hotel,  welcomed by the  classical vocals. In the general networking bonhomie and the din of hearty literary banter, I managed to extricate a couple of moments of soundproof chat with writers and Festival Directors, Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple. Upbeat about the ever increasing enthusiasm around the Jaipur Literature Festival, Gokhale made a special mention of young adult  readers and writers who she feels are the future!  "I have 11 year-olds who tell me that they have published their second book and would like it to be launched at the festival!" Though pushy parents is something she said we all could do without. There is, she shares,  no dearth of invigorating topics, year after year for the festival! Kudos to that!
Writers and Festival Co-Directors William Dalrymple and Namita Gokhale with  Sanjoy K. Roy, Managing Director of Teamwork Arts
Talking about the behind-the-scenes process of realising the festival, Dalrymple shares that it begins with the choice of writers and not themes, especially skirting those that limit the scope of the festival. There is also room for spontaneity as the expanding list of writers stays organic-till the  directors' cut-offs make it to the final one!  'This year I'd say we have the best line-up of writers. I am especially happy about 15 poets that figure in on the list, the maximum we have had at the festival!' 
As the evening progressed, networking took over, no sooner than the hors d'oeuvres glided in. With a power packed line up of writers  the coming year at JLF - safe to say 2018 will start with a literary  bang! See you on the other side with more Insider views! Oh yes... ,  keep the conversation going! Will you?
What they said!
Writer and Festival Co-Director Namita Gokhale, “Literature is an infectious form of magic, and shared stories and narratives reinforce our human bonds and understanding. As the new year approaches, readers, writers and book lovers look forward to the much awaited 2018 edition of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival. At the Preview, we share some of the sessions, themes and speakers who will bring the Festival to life.

Writer and Festival Co-Director William Dalrymple, “I am thrilled to launch our line-up in Delhi. The audiences that come to the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival always contain a large number of Delhi literature-lovers and our list of star writers is always full of Delhi literati. We hope to see more Delhi wallahs than ever at the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival 2018 and I look forward to welcoming them at the Diggi Palace in January.
Here's what is happening!
This year’s edition of JBM sees new trends and innovation take centre-stage. Nikko Odiseos from Shambhala Books, speakers from Walking BookFairs and Books on the Metro teams will share their passion for the written word at a session that celebrates unusual booksellers and curators who breathe new life into preserving books. P. Sainath, India’s best known development reporter, will shed light on the heart of darkness within India’s agrarian and rural reality; filmmaker and environmentalist Pradip Kishen will unravel the ancient history and the rugged topography of the mysterious Aravalli hills; debut novelists Prayaag Akbar and Preti Taneja will discuss their chillingly dystopic novels, Leila and We That Are Young respectively; Bollywood royalty Sharmila Tagore will speak to her daughter, Soha Ali Khan, who has authored a witty memoir titled The Perils of Being Moderately Famous; the sassy septuagenarian Shobhaa De, with her characteristic charisma and irreverence, will discuss turning 70, the subject of her latest book; environmental crusader Sunita Narain will make an impassioned plea to overcome the impending global climate catastrophe; diplomat T.C.A. Raghavan, author of The People Next Door: The Curious History of India’s Relationship with Pakistan, will discuss cross-border dynamics; and columnist Vir Sanghvi will regale festival-goers with his refined palate on the unlimited potential of food.
More on -

Monday, 11 December 2017

What's Cooking this Christmas?

Here's what The Insider is cooking...well at least trying to, this X'mas! Recipes shared by, Executive Chef Anil Dahiya, The Bristol Hotel, Gurugram.
Red Velvet Pancake 
10 cups all-purpose flour                             1/2 
Sugar                                                     1-1/4 Cups
Baking Cocoa                                        2/3 Cups
Baking Soda                                               6 tsp
Baking Powder                                           4 tsp
Salt                                                              5 tsp

Additional Ingredients (for each batch)

Buttermilk                                                     2 cups
Eggs                                                              2
Red food coloring                                         2 tsp
Butter and maple syrup

  • ·       In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking cocoa, baking soda and salt all together.
  • ·       Place 2 cups in each of five resalable plastic bags or containers.
  • ·       Store in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months

To prepare pancakes
  • ·       Pour the mixed ingredients into a large bowl.
  • ·       In a small bowl, whisk the buttermilk, eggs and food coloring.
  • ·       Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.
  • ·       Pour batter by 1/4 cupful’s onto a greased hot griddle; turn when bubbles form on top.
  • ·       Cook until the second side is golden brown.
  • ·       Serve with butter and syrup. 

                 Mocha Cashew Butter                                                             

Salted Cashews                                                            3 cups
Softened Butter                                                           1/2 cup
Semisweet Chocolate Chips                     1/2 cup
Instant Coffee Granules                                    2 tsp
Water                                                                                             2 tsp
Salted Cashews (optional)
  • ·       Place cashews in a food processor.
  • ·       Cover and process until finely ground.
  • ·       Add half of the butter; process until smooth.
  • ·       Transfer to a small bowl.
  • ·       In a small saucepan, combine the chocolate chips, coffee granules, water along with remaining butter.
  • ·       Cook and stir over low heat until smooth.
  • ·       Stir into cashew mixture.
  • ·       Top with additional cashews if desired.
  • ·       Store in the refrigerator. 

Mother Christmas Cake
Ingredients                                                              Quantity
Chopped Peeled Tart Apples                  3 cups
Sugar                                                                                                              2 cups
Apple Juice                                                                                        1/2 cup
Eggs                                                                                                              3
Vegetable Oil                                                                                 3/4 cup
Vanilla Extract                                                                            1 tsp
All-purpose Flour                                                                  3 cups
Apple Pie Spice (Cinnamon)                                2 tsp
Coarsely Chopped Pecans                                          2 cups
Candied Red Cherries, halved                              1/2 pound
Candied Green Cherries, halved                       1/2 pound
Diced Candied Pineapple                                             1/2 pound
Salted Cashews (optional)
  • ·       Line three 8x4-inch loaf pans with waxed paper
  • ·       Grease the paper and set aside.
  • ·       In a large bowl, combine apples, sugar and apple juice; let stand for 15 minutes.
  • ·       In a bowl, combine the eggs, oil and vanilla.
  • ·       Add to apple mixture; mix well.
  • ·       Combine the flour, apple pie spice, baking soda and salt; add to apple mixture and mix well.
  • ·       Fold in pecans, cherries and pineapple.
  • ·       Pour into prepared pans.
  • ·       Bake at 350° for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • ·       Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.
  • ·       Remove waxed paper.
  • ·       Cool completely.
Do let us know if you happen to make any of these!  Merry X'mas!