Friday, August 17, 2018

Author Interview- Sweet Neem by Mohini Durgampudi

Hi, guys! On the blog today, we have author Mohini Durgampudi who has a book about food called Sweet Neem. We interviewed her on her book, so without further ado, let's find out more about the book and the author. 


The groom died in a celebratory gunfire after the wedding. What to do with the big fat Indian wedding feast already prepared for the hundreds of guests?! Sri and Mia have to hit the ground running when they move to India to take over the struggling family business, Restaurant Annapurna. 

Set in Hyderabad, also known as the City of Pearls, this is a story of three generations coming together in the span of a year across cultural, social and generational divides. The family deals with life and death and grapple with love and loss. They celebrate the many festivals of India, a wedding and their grand reopening. The younger ones are awed by the ancient city with it’s ultra modern trappings while the elders witness the magic and power of digital revolution and social media. 

They also sample their way through Hyderabadi cuisine, an intoxicating mix of Mughalai, Turkish and Arabic influences on Andhra, Telangana and Marathwada foods; street food at midnight, a mango feast at the Taj, Anglo Indian at an old friend’s, eclectic gastro-pub fare, Indian Chinese, fusion desserts at the latest bakery, cheeseburgers in a tropical tree house…but, what about Annapurna? And why Sweet Neem?



Mohini Durgampudi is an entrepreneur, food safety instructor and assists at a culinary incubator. She started her career in the IT sector but took a very happy and eager detour into the food industry. 

An avowed bookworm, her writings so far have been anonymous contributions to travel and food blogs and crowd-sourced websites. Sweet Neem is her first book, and it brings together her love for food, travel, family, history and culture.

AUHTOR LINKS: Goodreads 


Hi, Mohini! Welcome to The Readdicts. We’re super glad to have you here! Let’s start with the interview.

       Tell us a little bit about yourself.

o   Like many people I started in the IT sector. When we were blessed with twins I  decided to take a short break. During that time I got involved in the food business through a friend. After dabbling in a few food ventures I settled into writing about food.

       Tell us about your book, Sweet Neem.

o     Sweet Neem is about food, for foodies by a foodaholic. If you dig a little bit deeper, it’s about family dynamics, uniquely Indian social situations and the bond people have with food. It’s about three generations; one Indian, one born and raised in the West and one straddling the two, trying to revive their family restaurant while dealing with their complicated web of life.

       Give us a brief insight into your journey with food.

o     My first confused memories were of people calling me laddu, even though my name was Mohini. My journey with food starts there, and it’s very simple. I love it - always have, always will.

       What inspired you to write your book?

o     I am a bookworm. I believe behind every reader is a writer waiting to come out. I always loved food and when I got involved in the food industry I learned so much more about food than I ever thought possible. Since I cannot write a recipe, or even follow one faithfully, I decided to write a story built around food.   

       What kind of research went into writing your book?

o     Most of it was anecdotal and personal experiences. I had to research some facts and thank God for family, friends and of course the internet. People are very helpful - in some cases I just emailed the owners or managers and they got right back to me with the information I needed.

       Tell us why readers should pick up your book.

o    Because it’s about food and travel, which most people love. And there are so many beautiful travel guides and amazing cookbooks out there already. Sweet Neem is unique - part armchair travel, part cultural immersion and all about food - it is interesting, funny and relatable. Even though it is set in a particular city, the foodscape and urban culture is very similar to many metros in India today. For Hyderabadis it reaffirms all they love about their City of Pearls. For expats it fulfills their nostalgia for home, of which food is a huge part.

       What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

o    Seeking out new ingredients, trying new recipes… and eating! I like to read, and I spend way too much time researching my bucket list restaurants and foods I am going to eat when I win the lottery.

       Tell us about your writing style. 

o     Although I admire the writing styles of many authors, I don’t consciously emulate anyone. When I am writing the story I write without any attention to grammar, punctuation etc. When I have writers block or am distracted, I edit. I edit a lot, obsessively even, I actually spend more time editing than I do writing!

       What is next in store for you? Do you plan on writing more?

o     Absolutely, I will be writing more. My next novel is a historic food fiction. It is also set in Hyderabad, during the late eighteenth century when Hyderabad as a kingdom was taking shape and Hyderababdi cuisine as it is popular today was coalescing.

       Give us a glimpse into your bookshelf.

o     Anything that catches my eye. More fiction than non. Mystery, Drama, Historic, Sci-fi… I go through genre stages and right now I am fascinated with fiction  (alternative retelling really) based on Indian mythology.  In my younger years I used to read established authors. Now I read a lot of debut authors.

Let’s move on to two fun rounds now where we have a favourites and a this or that in store for you!

       Favourite drink? 
Just squeezed orange juice

       Favourite food? 
Anything with eggs ;-)

       Favourite snack? 

       Favourite cuisine? 
Indian and similar spice profiles

       Favourite time of the day? 

       Favourite book? 
Keeps changing!

       Favourite book character? 
Bagheera from the Jungle Book

       Favourite bookstore? 
No longer in existence :-(

       Favourite book cover? 
Sweet Neem :-)

       Favourite author? 
Hard to pick just one!

For this or that, you get to pick just one!

       Tea or coffee? 
Coffee - I am a Southern girl!

       Coke or Pepsi? 
Pepsi, but from a fountain

       Sweet or salty? 
Sweet, with a sprinkle of sea salt on top

       Desi mithai or continental desserts? 
Continental, with a Desi fusion twist

    Home cooked food or restaurant food? 
Home cooked, by a restaurant chef. Wouldn’t that be just perfect?!

That’s all for now! Thank you so much for stopping by our blog, Mohini. We wish you all the luck, love, happiness and success.

Thank you so much for stopping by, everyone! I hope you enjoyed the interview and I sure hope you check out Mohini's book. Happy weekend and happy reading! 

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