Over the past few years, our new family tradition has been to gather on New Year’s Day and make pooris and potatoes, while working on a jigsaw puzzle all day. Pooris are a puffy, deep-fried Indian flat bread and they taste especially good with a spicy, tangy, potato curry. It is one of my favorite meals and my mother made it for almost all of my childhood birthdays!

My mom is such an amazing cook that I wanted to share her recipe for these potatoes with you all, in case you would also like to try making some! So, without further ado, here’s the recipe to Shakunthala’s Potato Bhaji:



3 medium Russet potatoes cooked in water with skin. Remove skin after it is cooked and 

coarsely mash. 

1 medium yellow onion, chopped 

1 teaspoon black mustard 

1 teaspoon of urad dal 

2 whole dry red chilies 

2 hot green chili peppers, split

5-6 curry leaves 

1 inch fresh ginger finely chopped 

1⁄2 teaspoon turmeric powder 

1 tablespoon lemon juice 

Salt to taste 

2-3 Tablespoon vegetable oil 

2 tablespoon cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped 

1 cup water 


Step 1: Heat oil in a wide pan and first add mustard and when it pops, add urad dal, dry red chilies, green chilies, curry leaves, ginger, onion, turmeric powder, and salt continuing to sauté until the onion becomes translucent. 

Step 2: Add water and lemon juice and bring it to boil, then add potato and cilantro while mixing well until it is thick and loose. Transfer to serving dish and enjoy!

And here’s what pooris look like! If you don’t feel like making pooris, you can also enjoy these potatoes with rice or stuffed into a tortilla!

I read quite a few books in January!

  • Two were for a book club: Chain-Gang All-Stars (for my book club at work, since we will be hosting the author soon) and The Mysterious Affair At Styles (for the Official Agatha Christie reading challenge)
  • One was for my Ocean-themed Reading Challenge: Wild and Distant Seas
  • Two were for professional review: JoyFull and Masquerade (I’ll post the reviews when they are published)
  • Two were books that I received from publishers: The Uncharted Flight of Olivia West and The Framed Women of Ardemore House
  • And I am slowly reading through a copy of The Pickwick Papers this year as that was a holiday gift from a friend last year. I’ll be reading a little bit of it every month this year until I’m done.

    I don’t rate the books I read as I don’t like comparing things that are so different and wonderful in their own ways. If I don’t like something, I just don’t finish it or post about it. With these posts, I just want to share the books I loved so that you can check it out for yourself and see if it suits your tastes! Instead of a rating system, I like to use one word or phrase to describe books and, if you’re interested in longer reviews, please check out my Instagram (@gracerajendran) ! :

    I’ve made a collection of all of these books on Bookshop.org, where you can also read more about them or purchase a copy for yourself. If you do, be sure to let me know on Instagram or in the comments here – I would love to hear what you were excited to read!

    I really enjoyed reading all of these and got to experience a wide range of genres – fiction, speculative fiction, classics, fantasy, mystery, and even a cookbook! I usually like to read an art instruction book or a nature book during the month as well but, as you can see, I really didn’t have time to add those in – January really did fly by for me! How did it feel for you?

    Happy New Year! May 2024 bring you many joys and wonderful books to read!

    In case you’re looking for a new read in the new year, here are some January releases that I’m particularly excited about. This post is all fiction: literary, romance, science fiction, etc. I will post another list soon for nonfiction.

    If you’re interested in reading more about each book or purchasing them, click on the book title to be sent to the book on Bookshop.org. Every purchase using one of my links helps support my website. You can also check out my entire January 2024 Fiction list on Bookshop.org by clicking here: January 2024 Fiction Book Releases


    WILD AND DISTANT SEAS by Tara Karr Roberts (Jan 2)

    You all know how much I love Moby Dick and books about the ocean in general, so you can guess why I’m excited for this one!
    From the publisher’s page: “Wild and Distant Seas takes Moby-Dick as its starting point, but Tara Karr Roberts brings four remarkable women to life in a spellbinding epic all her own.”


    MARTYR! by Kaveh Akbar (Jan 23)
    The publisher’s blurb calls this: “A newly sober, orphaned son of Iranian immigrants, guided by the voices of artists, poets, and kings, embarks on a remarkable search for a family secret that leads him to a terminally ill painter living out her final days in the Brooklyn Museum.”


    THE BULLET SWALLOWER by Elizabeth Gonzalez James (Jan 23)
    I got to meet Elizabeth on a pre-pub party over the summer and, therefore, got to read her incredible book early! This is a beautifully-written magical realism set in the American West. It will fill you with wonder and give you so much to ponder long after you read the last pages.

    The publisher says: “The Bullet Swallower tackles border politics, intergenerational trauma, and the legacies of racism and colonialism in a lush setting and stunning prose that asks who pays for the sins of our ancestors, and whether it is possible to be better than our forebears.”


    THE STORM WE MADE by Vanessa Chan (Jan 2)

    I was lucky to meet Vanessa during a pre-pub tour and so got to read this amazing book early!
    I was captivated from the first page. The storytelling is amazing and I really felt so much for the characters and their experiences in Malaya (present-day Malaysia) around WWII.

    Publisher MarySue Ricci Books says: “A spellbinding, sweeping novel about a Malayan mother who becomes an unlikely spy for the invading Japanese forces during WWII—and the shocking consequences that rain upon her community and family.”



    I also had the pleasure of meeting Janice last summer on a pre-pub tour and got to read her book early. This is an exciting and thrilling mystery told in the form of transcripts,
    Interviews, emails, WhatsApp messages etc. The story is very intriguing and the format of the novel makes the reader feel like an active and immersed participant!

    Publisher Atria Books describes this as being “about a true crime journalist who revives a long-buried case about a cult—and finds herself too close to the story.”


    YOUR UTOPIA by Bora Chung and translated by Anton Hur (Jan 30)

    Publisher Algonquin Books describes it as “From the internationally acclaimed author of Cursed Bunny, in another thrilling translation from Korean by Anton Hur, this collection shares tales of loss and discovery, idealism and dystopia, death and immortality. ​”