Khabaar

An Immigrant Journey of Food, Memory, and Family

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Pub Date 04 Apr 2022 | Archive Date 04 Apr 2022
University of Iowa Press, University Of Iowa Press

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Description

Khabaar is a food memoir and personal narrative that braids the global journeys of South Asian food through immigration, migration, and indenture. Focusing on chefs, home cooks, and food stall owners, the book questions of what it means to belong, and what does belonging in a new place look like in the foods carried over from the old country? These questions are integral to the author’s own immigrant journey to America as a daughter of Indian refugees (from what’s now Bangladesh to India during the 1947 Partition of India); as a woman of color in science; as a woman who left an abusive marriage; and as a woman who keeps her parents’ memory alive through her Bengali food.
Khabaar is a food memoir and personal narrative that braids the global journeys of South Asian food through immigration, migration, and indenture. Focusing on chefs, home cooks, and food stall...

Advance Praise

“I have been an enthusiastic follower of Madhushree Ghosh, and have great admiration for her literary talent. But I was not prepared for this new, very powerful, and entrancing work. I highly recommend it. It’s unforgettable.”—Luis Alberto Urrea, author, The House of Broken Angels

“A seemingly effortlessly wise collection of essays that shows again and again the ways writing about food involves more than a story, a political history, or a family legacy, as Ghosh takes the food essay into entirely new directions. The result is a brilliant book about the past and the present that also feels like the future of the form.”—Alexander Chee, author, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel: Essays

“In Khabaar, Madhushree Ghosh shares her unforgettable story deftly and beautifully, as only a gifted storyteller can. Like the foods that shape and inform Ghosh’s memories and reflections, her intimate, powerful prose is meant to be savored. This memoir, at once global in scope and deeply intimate, is a treasure.”—Deesha Philyaw, author, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies

“As thought-provoking as it is delicious, joyful, and a delight to read.”—Sonia Faleiro, author, The Good Girls: An Ordinary Killing

“Wildly original. With her scientific sensibility, chef’s palate, and poet’s heart, Madhushree Ghosh has given us a singular and spectacular read.”—Mira Jacob, author, Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations

“Madhushree Ghosh seamlessly blends stories of food and family, longing and grief, to reveal the power of food to connect us—to the past, to one another, to our appetites and desires, to that which we wish to say when language fails. A book to read with all your senses, Khabaar will break your heart and make it swell.”—Lacy M. Johnson, author, The Reckonings: Essays 

Khabaar crackles with energy and passion. This book engages the reader on many levels: it awakens the senses, heightens awareness of racial and gender disparity, and perhaps above all is a powerful love story between its author and her family and country of origin. Ghosh has written a book that educates as it entertains, which is no easy feat. I am enriched for having read it.”—Dani Shapiro, author, Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love

“I have been an enthusiastic follower of Madhushree Ghosh, and have great admiration for her literary talent. But I was not prepared for this new, very powerful, and entrancing work. I highly...


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ISBN 9781609388232
PRICE $19.95 (USD)

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Featured Reviews

Release date: April 4, 2022


Khabaar is a food memoir and personal narrative that braids the global journeys of South Asian food through immigration, migration, and indenture. Focusing on chefs, home cooks, and food stall owners, the book questions what it means to belong, and what does belonging in a new place looks like in the foods carried over from the old country? These questions are integral to the author’s own immigrant journey to America as a daughter of Indian refugees (from what’s now Bangladesh to India during the 1947 Partition of India); as a woman of colour in science; as a woman who left an abusive marriage; and as a woman who keeps her parents’ memory alive through her Bengali food.

The book is a love letter to food and everything about it - I was hungry (and got hungrier) as I read it to the point where I ordered in South-Asian inspired food for dinner. An absolute delight to have read for review - I will recommend it far and wide.

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Excellently written. I loved the blend of food memories to share the immigrant experience. Ghosh is a talented writer and I feel that Khabaar left me having learned not only about the author but about history, other immigrants and current politics and critical worldviews in light of the pandemic.

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*This book was received as an Advanced Reviewer's Copy from NetGalley.

It's pretty easy to draw me in with a memoir that revolves around food. This one, while not all about food, still was captivating and worth the read for the various aspects it brought outside of food.

Ghosh, in a non-linear method, tells of her life in India, adjustment to living in America as an immigrant, relationship issues and domestic violence, her career, and her family, in a myriad of stories and remembrances of the past in this book. Politics, gender, and other aspects also get attention from her as well.

While the non-linear method for me was sometimes a bit disorienting, I ultimately enjoyed this book because I learned quite a bit from it, which is sometimes rare in memoirs. There were a few recipes (after all, the initial attraction for this book was the food), an inspiring tale of family dynamics, and an inspiring (albeit in a different way) look at personal relationships and how to make hard decisions that ultimately will give you a better quality of life.

Definitely an interesting memoir.

Review by M. Reynard 2021

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I was expecting a cookbook or at least a few recipes but it’s more of a memoir which was interesting. I always enjoy reading about lives that are different from my own experiences. Great read.

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Written and served up with heart, Khabaar, by Madhushree Ghosh, is a memoir about dealing with displacement, about modifying and adapting traditions to address the present. Most especially, it is a book about food and the memories food evokes of love, of family, and of those lost to death and transitions. Ghosh traces her own and her family’s experiences as well as those of others who have migrated from the Indian Subcontinent, highlighting the role of food as a means to connect with family and culture of origin.
Not all migration histories begin with the voyage to America. Ghosh herself, now a biotechnology scientist in California, came to the United States from India’s capital city, Delhi. However her family were Hindu Bengalis. At India’s independence in 1947, arbitrary lines created separate independent nations of India and Muslim Pakistan. This division had sliced apart British Bengal Province, stranding over ten million Hindu Bengalis on the designated Muslim side. Ghosh’s cherished childhood neighborhood in India’s capital – recalled so vividly in Khabaar – was itself a community made up of refugees.
She navigates this difficult history in a moving series of narratives, bringing the reader with her all the way to the pandemic present in California. Reading Khabaar, I wished my own immigrant ancestors had told me more about where we came from.

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Ghosh's book is a beautiful personal memoir and ode to a food journey through South Asia. Through the lens of food and culture, Ghosh explores immigration, migration, tradition, family, and love in the present day. She traces her own experiences as the immigrant daughter of Indian refugees, as a woman of color, as a woman in STEM, as a woman navigating an abusive marriage, and as a woman who investigates the role of food in connecting with her parents and heritage. Ghosh has a way of moving the reader with her narratives, and I was delighted to be brought along for the journey, food, stories, and all. Highly recommend.

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This book is absolutely beautiful. I'm transported with all of my senses to the kitchens of Ghosh's family and the communities in which she and they have lived. The colors, smells, sounds, and of course the flavors of her Bangladeshi world and all the foods that follow are a comfort and an immersive experience. Readers should absolutely not skip the introduction, which explains Ghosh's choices around language and typography, not a small thing in this purposeful memoir. Cooks will be itching to experiment and eaters will become curious to seek out these foods; both will be hungry as they read this lush and gorgeous memoir.

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A immigrant’s journey from India to California, a history filled with love and loss, food and family. Madhushree Gosh carries us with her as she wanders back through her life, discovering and rediscovering where she’s been and how she ended up where she is now. Like all memories this memoir jumps from past to present and isn’t always chronological. Her story is interspersed with interesting historical facts, well documented as a scientist always shows their work! I loved the recipes and just wish every chapter included one. I look forward to more books from this author. Highly recommend.

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Beautiful. This memoir touched all of my senses: I could smell the food as the author described the spices and smells - I felt like I was touching the oils and fish and the textures of life in her home country and her adopted one. Seeing photos of food added a lovely element to the end of chapters. I loved reading the nicknames and how the author wrote in Bengali at times - I could almost hear here father’s voice. I learned about history in a way that made it come alive on the page. Stunning memoir. So grateful to Univ of Iowa Press for the advanced copy. Buying a hard copy to keep on my shelf. It’s that lovely. This would be a fun book discussion group choice - it is so full of things to discuss - and rn have the group create one of the dishes from the recipes included.

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If you're thinking this is a book about Indian food, that's correct. If you're thinking this is a memoir, that is also correct. And if you're thinking you'll learn more about Indian culture and history, that is also correct. So this book packs a real wallop and I haven't even gotten started on the author's very personal reflection of her life as a woman of color.
At first, I was a little put off by all of the foreign words, many of which the reader is left to figure out on her own, either from context or with a dictionary. The author made a conscious choice to not hold back on using her own familiar words. Eventually, I just accepted that I wasn't going to understand them all, that I need not understand them all, and in life we don't get to understand things 100% so this is, after all, a fair representation of what we may encounter in our own lives.

You will get hungry, you will want to seek out certain dishes and you will be mesmerized by all of the different ingredients of this book.

Thank you to NetGalley for an advance copy of this unusual book.

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Thank you to the University of Iowa Press and NetGalley for the advanced electronic review copy of this wonderful book. I really enjoyed the beautiful writing and a well told story. Greatly recommend it to anyone who loves memoir, food, travel, history, and culture.

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I’m thrilled that food memoirs are a thing and was excited to dive into this South Asian delicacy. What I found was a lovely and lovingly told story of food and family, traditions and legacies, journeys and homes. Don't miss this singular volume!

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