Ragi Ragini: Chronicles from Aji’s Kitchen was published by Yoda Press, New Delhi in March 2012 and was soon sold out.
The second edition is now available here –
Kitab Khana in Mumbai and other discerning bookstores.
some reviews about the book –
‘Essentially a firstperson fictional account of Ragini, a motherless girl brought up on a Ragi-rich diet by her grandmother in a Konkan village, it is laced with popular verses composed by 19th century Saint-poet Bahinabai Choudhari. The original Marathi ovis (couplets) have been translated in English by Purohit, who has also illustrated the 99-page book (Yoda Press) with rustic implements and tools used in a yesteryear Maharashtrian kitchen….Ragi Ragini is an example of composite art. It is an intelligent juxtaposition of fiction, art illustrations, poetry and Marathi to-English translations. Purohit, who paints oils on canvas and also indulges in fiction (winner of the Commonwealth Short Story competition, 2008), has done a commendable job of representing Bahinabai to the English reader. The verses she has chosen (to enliven Ragini’s story) lend a real-life connect to cookery. It is by singing these couplets that simple toiling women sought solace in their daily chores. Modern-day cooking is no longer equated with the grating and grinding mentioned in Bahinabai’s ovis. But her moral precepts and musings ring true in the food processor setting as well. The book is therefore a validation of our culinary history…At a time when lumpen sectarianism, nativism and regionalism have raised their head in contemporary Maharashtra, the book is a welcome celebration of the inclusiveness of Maharashtrian culture. It highlights the gentle, warm, loving aspects of the culture, as verbalized by Maharashtra’s Varkari religious cult. Bahinabai and other Varkari saints professed respect towards all human beings. Their definitions of culture and history were liberal, reformist and open-ended. Ragi Ragini is reminiscent of that open-endedness.’ Sumedha Raikar-Mhatre in the Times of India, (June 22, 2012)
‘My first impression on seeing the cover of Ragi-Ragini was ‘rustic’, and this 100-page book lived up to its rustic cover image…It’s tough to term this unusual book as a cookbook. There are three parts to it, all woven together…This book is a nice melange of poetry and the traditional grain. I wouldn’t exactly call this a book that cookbook lovers would love to collect, more like a gentle insight into village life, interspersed with ragi recipes…’ Nandita Iyer in OUTLOOK (April 30th, 2012)
Ragi-Ragini is very much a book about women’s spaces. Men occasionally enter the household upon which the book is centred as friends, but Ragini’s grandfather is barely present even before his death. In a short author’s note, Purohit dedicates the work to her grandmothers and mother. And the very format of the recipe book as memoir is another example of shared women’s space; not because women have any particular predilection for kitchens (Ragini describes herself as a reluctant cook at best) but because it has for centuries been such a social space. Bahinabai’s poems are in the “ovi” metre, traditionally sung by Maharashtrian women doing traditional women’s work; Ragini claims to have learnt the songs as she poured grain for the two older women to grind into flour. A constant theme in Bahinabai’s poems is that of the maher, or maternal home. Marriage and career do not weaken the bonds these women have with their mother’s home; at the end of the book Ragini too has decided to return to her Aji’s village to work, along with two children who we can only assume are her own…Yet Ragi-Ragini is structurally ambitious, women-centric and interesting in ways that few books dare to be. It’s easy enough to forgive such a work some over-written recipes, particularly when said recipes promise laddoos. … Aishwarya Subramaniam in The Sunday Guardian.
Vikram Doctor on Ragi and, incidentally, on Ragi Ragini as well on Audiomatic – http://www.audiomatic.in/show/earthy-resilient-and-nutritious-ragi-is-a-metaphor-for-the-people-it-nourishes/
Girija Shastri reviews Ragi Ragini for the Kannada magazine Avadhi HERE.