Skip to main content

The Mistress of Spices - Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

‘The Mistress of Spices’ – The very title conjures up feelings of warmth, excitement and perhaps seduction? Spices are synonymous to South Asian food and food as we know forms an inherent part of any culture. If I call myself a lover of Indian fiction, it would be rather tragic if I failed to enlighten you about the wonders of this book!

When I first picked this book at my local library, I flipped through its pages and was enticed by the style of narration. Every chapter is dedicated to one spice and the storyline is interwoven with the healing benefits of each (or so I guessed in the 2 minutes that I examined the book). I was pleased to find out that my inference wasn’t too far from actuality.

Divakaruni is a fine writer and her words in this book form a soothing symphony. She tells us the story of Tilo, an immortal soul who is bestowed with powers that enable her to master the ancient art of spices. This translates into Tilo identifying ailments of those that approach her in her mystical spice shop and she ‘prescribes’ a particular spice or a combination of spices as healing agent(s). The attention to detail and amount of research behind the properties of each spice is evident in Divakaruni’s writing. The manner in which drab scientific information has been transcribed into an enchanting narrative reflects Divakaruni’s immense power over language and her ability to engage with her readers.

As Tilo’s healing powers become known, she is fondly referred to as ‘The Mistress of Spices’ and through the first half of the book we can see how passionate she is about her art or shall we say craft? We are then introduced to a handsome stranger who burns in Tilo a different kind of passion. Are these passions allowed to coexist? Will she have to choose between them?

I absolutely loved this book and wasn’t surprised when it was made into a film of the same name. Whilst the film captured the emotions well, the book stoked my imagination as the spices were brought to life by some very succinct personifications deployed by Divakaruni. The book makes for a wonderful read during a cold winter’s day when all you need is some sizzle and spice!


  1. yes yes fully agree
    she's a great storyteller be it Palace of Illusuions or The Oleander girl she leaves you craving for more

    1. Absolutely! Her latest book 'Before We Visit The Goddess' is set to release next month. Cannot wait!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Sab Moha Maya Hai - For The Sake of Valentine's Day!

14th February, Valentine’s Day. A day we are told we must “celebrate” as it epitomises this wonderful emotion that we as humans are capable of – Love.

“So, what are your plans for the day?” I was asked this question about a million times today and all I said was “Oh! I don’t know, I’m very unromantic!” to which I got responses like “But it’s the day of love” or “Come on! you need to celebrate love!” and so on. Having reflected upon this small talk that people often engage in to ease the awkward silences, I felt the need to put my thoughts to paper about the difference between romance and love as I find the two are often confused- one for the other. Romance is an expression of love, not love itself. Love is when you consistently strive for the wellbeing of another despite it causing you discomfort or pain. It is unconditional, not based on trivialities like tokens of affection which have sadly come to become measures of the extent of love. If you buy me a cake, you love me 30%, a design…

Flesh and Bone and Water - Luiza Sauma

I was delighted to receive this book for review from Penguin UK. Having grown up with memories of the Penguin logo in almost every bookshop I visited, it felt wonderful to be recognised as a reviewer by this world renowned publishing house. 'Flesh and Bone and Water' has nothing to do with South Asia. However, the commonality it shares with the region is that it is set in Brazil, a place that is often referred to as also being part of the 'third world' group of nations. "It's easy to leave a place when you're young. Coming back is harder. That's my advice : stay where you are." And so begins this beautiful novel which I would term as part coming of age and part an immigrant's journey from Brazil to Londres (London). More importantly why does the protagonist Andre venture back on a journey to his childhood home? The author Luiza Sauma has very poignantly narrated the story in first person so it feels like Andre is telling you his own story. You…

Serving Crazy With Curry - Amulya Malladi

Food! - That wonderful part of our existence that not only plays the essential role of providing daily sustenance but is also an archetype of culture and tradition. For me, food is a meaningful catalyst to creating unforgettable memories and associations. There are certain foods that I associate with certain events or significant people in my life. I also seek comfort in food be it a hot bowl of dal rice after a hard day at work or a sneaky piece of chocolate as a reward for achieving something (Yes, I do apply the principles of behavioural psychology to my own life!)
I first came across Amulya Malladi’s books in London’s local libraries. I was impressed that her books are well stocked which is an indication of their popularity. I read a couple of these books and soon found out the reason for this. Two words – Writing and Characters! Her writing is immensely engaging and her characters threaten to come alive page by page. This certainly applies to ‘Serving Crazy with Curry’.
Devi, our …