Thursday, February 6th, 2014
With huge thanks to Christine, I bring you installment number two of Christine’s Pink Carnation Cookery series!
This month, it’s Indian-inspired cookies in honor of The Betrayal of the Blood Lily. (Which is doubly appropriate, since the modern portion of Blood Lily is set right around Valentine’s Day!)
And now over to Christine:
In Blood Lily, Penelope marries Freddie Staines and is sent off to Hyderabad, India, then engages in quite the spicy affair with Alex Reid. Full disclosure: I’m not a fan of Indian food. A lot of the spices used in Indian cooking just aren’t for me, so I looked at this month’s Pink cooking experiment as a personal challenge.
I Googled “Indian cookies” and it came back with a ton of hits for Nan Khatai. It looked easy and delicious, and it absolutely was. I know very little about Indian food, but the Internet tells me that these cookies are Indian buttery egg-less shortbread or sugar cookies that are often eaten with tea or coffee. I found a couple of different recipes that looked close enough to each other to use as a starting point – they have a few differences between them. The ingredients posted below are all from one recipe but I’ve also posted a link to the second recipe.
Ingredients (full recipe from Show Me the Curry):
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Combine powdered sugar, a little at a time, with butter until it is smooth and creamy.
3. Add nutmeg and cardamom and mix well.
4. In a separate bowl, combine sifted flour with baking powder and salt.
5. Add flour mixture, a little at at time, to butter mixture until it forms a soft dough.
6. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and let it rest for 15-20 minutes.
7. Knead dough and divide into 12 equal parts.
8. Roll each of the 12 parts into a smooth ball and place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or lightly greased. Be sure to leave room between each cookie.
9. Bake for 22-25 minutes. The cookies should remain white.
10. Let cool for 5 minutes before moving to a wire rack.
If you go to the link, you’ll see that the picture has nuts on top of the cookies while the actual recipe leaves out the nuts. The second recipe I looked at, My Saffron Kitchen, does incorporate nuts, and also says to smash the cookies a bit before adding nuts. There are all kinds of variations online, including chocolate chip and peanut butter.
I cheated a bit and left out cardamom. I’ve always found cardamom to be a bit too powerful, so I stuck with just nutmeg. I also sprinkled a bit of cinnamon on top right after the cookies came out of the oven, while they were still hot.
I’ve always believed that baking is about personal preferences and learning – I regularly swap out ingredients from recipes if I think something else will work better for me. Why not? Baking is about having fun and sharing the love. I once took a wine tasting class in which the teacher said learning about wines is also learning about what you like, and I think that applies to baking too. In baking, as with wines, there’s no right answer as to what you “should” like. Don’t be overly concerned with following instructions to a tee; play around, add what you like, come up with something that’s unique to you. I altered this recipe a bit to suit my tastes, and now I have something new to add to my repertoire that I really like.
Thank you so much, Christine! I now know what I’ll be baking next….
(If you missed Part I, Eloise’s peppermint marzipan, just click here.)
Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013
We’re up to the sixth book in the Pink series, The Betrayal of the Blood Lily.
Who: Penelope Deveraux Staines and Alex Reid
When: Autumn, 1804
What: Exiled to India to allow the scandal of her hasty marriage time to die down, Penelope finds herself battling cobras, spies, and her own treacherous emotions.
Historical Cameos: Begum Johnson, the Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Alam, et cetera
Fun facts about The Betrayal of the Blood Lily:
– Blood Lily was by far my favorite book to research. I spent three months before getting started doing nothing but read everything I could get my hands on about early nineteenth century India, and was amazed and fascinated by how different things were in those early days from the picture of the Raj one sees fifty years later on– and what a large role the Napoleonic Wars played in the creation of that Raj.
– In my original plans, Blood Lily had an entirely different setting, historical context and cast of real characters. I was going to set it much farther north, during the later stages of the Second Anglo-Maratha War, in the camp of Lord Lake as he battled Yashwantrao Holkar. After reading William Dalrymple’s White Mughals: Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth-Century India, about the idiosyncratic Resident of Hyderabad, my entire plan for the story shifted.
– Back when I started the Pink books, it never occurred to me that we’d get as far as six. Three was a pipe dream. Six was pure fantasy. Whenever I was asked how many books I thought there would be in the series, I’d say that I hoped there would be six. Not because the plan was to end with six, but simply because I never imagined the series would make it that far. Which meant that when the sixth book came out, I found myself getting a lot of emails asking whether it was the end of the series and why I wasn’t ending with Jane’s book. Right now, the plan is to end the series with Book Twelve… but we’ll see what happens.
My favorite scene from The Betrayal of the Blood Lily? Although it’s rather dark, probably the bit where Penelope discovers Freddy with his courtesan– and realizes that this marriage is never going to be saved.
What’s your favorite bit from The Betrayal of the Blood Lily?
Monday, September 12th, 2011
If you like The Betrayal of the Blood Lily for its Indian setting, you’ll probably also like….
– Sharpe’s Triumph and Sharpe’s Fortress, set in 1803, at Assaye and at Gawilghur;
– Thalassa Ali’s A Singular Hostage, set in the 1830s;
– M.M. Kaye’s Shadow of the Moon and The Far Pavilions, one set during, the other set after 1857;
– Valerie Fitzgerald’s Zemindar, also set during 1857;
– Katharine Gordon’s Peacock Quartet, if you can find it used (a sweeping saga set in late nineteenth century India that enthralled me when I was in my teens);
– Barbara Cleverly’s Joe Sandilands mysteries, set in 1920s India, starting with The Last Kashmiri Rose;
– Julia Gregson’s East of the Sun, also set in 1920s India;
– M.M. Kaye’s three part autobiography, chronicling her childhood in and return to India;
– the memoirs of the Maharini of Jaipur, A Princess Remembers;
– and the classics: A Passage to India and the Raj Quartet.
What are your favorite India-set novels?
(For non-fiction on colonial India, you can find some of the books I used to research Blood Lily listed here.)
Tuesday, April 19th, 2011
Penelopeep dives into the Krishna River to rescue Freddy’s groom in this scene from The Betrayal of the Blood Lily, recreated by Christine.
Typical Pen– she just dives right in!
On the shore, the onlookers panic. (Check out the scenic view from the Krishna in the background!)
Meanwhile, back on the raft, Alex throws a rope while Freddy sprawls flat on his face.
Believe it or not, that horse is made out of peeps, too. Last but not least, here’s Pen in all her glory, jumping into the river in her blue riding habit.
Huzzah for Christine and her amazing peep talents!
Monday, February 28th, 2011
Happy Monday! As part of my ongoing effort to update the website, I’m gathering Pink quotes for a book-by-book Pink Quotation Compedium, which will find a permanent home on the Diversions page.
This is proving a more complex project than I had envisioned. So, once again, I appeal to you for aid. Each Monday, I’ll be collecting favorite quotes from a different Pink book.
Which are your favorite lines from The Secret History of the Pink Carnation?
Just post your favorites below, along with the people who said them, and page numbers.
One person will be chosen at random to receive one of the Pink comic prints as a thank you. The recipient of the Pink comic print will be announced on Sunday, March 6.
Black Tulip coming up next Monday!
Saturday, February 19th, 2011
For those who are interested in what’s become of Hyderabad since The Betrayal of the Blood Lily, a friend just forwarded me this fascinating article on Hyderabad’s past and present. It sounds like a city which, while changed, would still be entirely recognizable to Pen and Alex (although not Freddy; he wasn’t paying much attention).
For those who would like to know more about Hyderabad during Penelope’s day, I recommend William Dalrymple’s White Mughuls, my primary resource on late eighteenth/early nineteenth century Hyderabad.
Tuesday, February 15th, 2011
An excellent review of The Betrayal of the Blood Lily on Dear Author. That beats a box of chocolates any day.
Tuesday, January 18th, 2011
It may be Orchid season here on the Pink page, but Blood Lily is also in bloom.
I’ll drop the annoying metaphor now, shall I? Romance Junkies just posted a wonderful review of The Betrayal of the Blood Lily, writing, “Author Lauren Willig’s attention to detail takes this book over the top, making her an author whose books readers will want to revisit time and again.”
Calling Blood Lily “a delightful read,” Romance Junkies warns readers that “readers will find it hard to stop at just this one, finding themselves consumed by a need for more of this delightful series”.
Thanks, Romance Junkies!
Tuesday, January 4th, 2011