Tiffin: Memories and Recipes of Indian Vegetarian Food by Rukmini Srinivas

I am a Foodie! I love food. All my travel expeditions are also secret missions in search of awesome food and my last trip to Madurai being a case in point. One of the sources of my deepest sadness in life is when health issues intervene, and I can’t quite eat the way I want to. But I can read about food all I want, can’t I? Rukmini Srinivas has written a delightful food memoir – an ode to the joys of South Indian food.


Selling at a ridiculously low price on Kindle, I chanced upon ‘Tiffin’ and I was immediately hooked. Rukka, as she is known to everyone, transports us to her world that was a mix of tradition and modernity, something that was unheard of in 1940s India. Rukmini has led a rich and varied life, filled with experiences that span the globe, and it shows. I loved learning about her childhood, her stints in Madras (now Chennai), and then stays in Barkeley, Boston and Bangalore. Throughout all these journeys, there is one thing common – food. Her love for food and her passion for cooking.

This is how it’s done. This is how precious memories are preserved and passed on because memories are like recipes. They need to be told and retold. Rukmini Srinivas’s book takes us through her childhood and adulthood, her family and friends, and the food that always surrounded them . We often express pride when we try out our grandmother’s recipe but mostly, we never know how she got the recipe herself or her memories surrounding it.

A very warm and honest memoir on life and how food touches small, seemingly unimportant things in our lives but imprints you with last memories and mindsets. This book is a literary and culinary delight, the anecdotes and experiences shared in between make the recipes given in the book more personal and interesting. It is rare to find such writings especially in a time where everything that can be cooked and eaten is up on the internet, on the blog or television shows.

The narratives she writes about only form a loose chronological order. Each chapter or anecdote ends with several delectable recipes that are marketed as ‘simple’ but which seem remarkably complex and time-consuming. I have not tried the recipes and if I would be completely honest, After a point, I was so drawn by her stories that I often skipped over the recipe to continue reading the next chapter ( of her life, of her book! ). But for me “Tiffin” was made more enchanting by the friends and family, and all the travels that surrounded Rukka’s life. I just wish it had been edited better to avoid countless repetitions. For instance, I learnt quite repeatedly that Rukka’s father was transferred to Tanjore, about her college education in Queen Mary’s College in Madras again and again. It felt more like talking to an extremely adorable grandmother who grew up in a land far away from what you call home and the stories from “her” land.

 And one thing I forgot to mention is that she gave me quite a good glimpse of parts of the personal life of RK Narayan, her good acquaintance, and one of my favorite authors.

A must read for food enthusiasts!

My Rating 3/5

1 thought on “Tiffin: Memories and Recipes of Indian Vegetarian Food by Rukmini Srinivas”

  1. Yummy..Tummy… Journey..
    Enjoyed review with flavor of relationship and dishes we savour from childhood which is as part of our memories till we remember things.
    Relished Joyfully.

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