Saturday, February 12, 2011

Book Review: In an Antique Land

This is a Review that I wrote quite some time ago, but when posting about Following Fish, I remembered that Amitav Ghosh's In an Antique Land also dealt largely with Mangalore and its pre-British sea faring history.

The two threads of the story here focus on Mangalore and a Country that I lived in for 4 years - Egypt.

The description of Mangalore did not ring any bells, as it focussed mostly on the town as it existed 800+ years ago.

This is a book of non fiction. Amitav Ghosh chanced upon a letter between Abraham Ben Yiju, a Jewish merchant living in Mangalore, India, and Khalaf ibn Ishaq from Egypt, written in 1132AD. Part of this narrative focuses on Ghosh's search for more documents relating to Ben Yiju and part of the narrative tries to imagine the world that Ben Yiju lived in.

My entire Review can be read at

Book Review: Following Fish

I  just reviewed a wonderful book called Following Fish: Travels around the Indian Coast on my Book Review Blog and I would like to direct my friends who follow this blog of mine towards the book.

One of its 9 chapters is dedicated to Mangalore: where he initially flounders in his quest for the perfect Manglorean fish curry, but soon with the help of friends he discovers eateries that are hidden gems, known to the locals and discovers tawa fried fish, rawa fry and other delicacies too.

He first ate at Hotel Dakshin as he had no one to guide him. Hotel Nihal he found slightly better. And then Manglorean friends guided him to Mesha near New Chitra Theatre. Jaideep Shenoy - the Hindu correspondent took him to Narayan's near the Bunder wharf (go to SBI & ask for Narayan's anyone can tell you) famous for its tawa fried fish. (I myself will need to visit these 2 places when I'm next in town as shamefully inspite of having lived there for the better part of my life, I still hadn't heard of these places)

His encounter with Vasudev Boloor (President of multiple fishermens associations) leads to an impromptu meal of home cooked Manglorean fish curry which any Manglorean would know is infinitely better than anything that a restaurant can ever serve.

Some of his observations are spot on: Mangalore seemed sleepy when I got off the train & it seemed sleepy when I left my hotel in search of lunch. I was to learn over the course of my stay there, that it was a town that seemed sleepy right through the week  and the book is a lovely read.

My detailed review can be read at

Going through this particular chapter on Mangalore and Samanth's quest for the perfect fish curry in Mangalore, I was wondering what I would have replied if I had been asked for a recommendation. Other than my mums and grandma's curries, I think I may have recommended Hotel Mangala near Fatima Retreat House for its fish curry.

Which eateries in Mangalore would you recommend for fish curry / fish fry?