Lubaina Bandukwala’s new book presents the charm of Hyderabad and its royalty in a humourous manner, making the plot enjoyable for young readers.
In the book, when you meet Sahabzada Hawa Singh Rafu Chakkar (Rafu) who is a descendant of the legendary Time-Travelling Thieving Djinns. Rafu wants to abandon the family tradition of stealing jewels to pursue his true passion—cooking. Rafu’s relentless pursuit of becoming a chef is sure to inspire you to chase your unfulfilled dreams.
Alongside, you will visit 16th century Hyderabad and witness Bandukwala’s version of the construction of the iconic Charminar.
For all those looking to read about a little bit of history, royal cuisines, mystical djinns and a lot of thrilling adventure, this book is a perfect read!
Read this excerpt from the book to find out more!
Late at night in Modern-day Hyderabad
There was spoon-drop silence in the kitchen of the famed Chez Mulki Hyderabadi restaurant. This exclusive fine-dining restaurant, nestled within a haveli, was closed for the night. In the kitchen, two assistant chefs watched as the great chef, Fufu, prepared the marinade for the next day’s biryani.
The boys held their breath. The boss himself was bent low, eyes squinting in concentration, his hands poised with a pinch of saffron above the deg. Only ten strands must fall in the mixture—nothing more, nothing less. As his fingers carefully released the strands one by one, you could have sliced the tension with one of Fufu’s gleaming knives.
Suddenly, the kitchen door slammed open, ushering in Bunty, the odd-job boy, a crate filled with condiments, and the somber tones of a TV news broadcast, as it delivered its customary barrage of doom and gloom.
‘The storm over Telangana has passed. Nevertheless, the strong winds have damaged the Charminar, causing the upper section of its western minaret to collapse,’ droned the news presenter in the background.
As the door slammed shut behind the hapless Bunty, Chef Fufu’s hand trembled ever so slightly, more like a tremor than a shake. Under the terrified gaze of the boys, the eleventh strand of saffron floated gently down into the deg.
The two assistants did not wait to see more. Their tasting spoons tinkled as they tossed them on to the counter, and food trollies collided as they hurriedly backed out and fled. The silence of the night shattered under the weight of an anguished howl. Oh yes, it was best to be as far as possible from the chef tonight.
As they ran away, they took that one thought with them: Why did Chef Fufu, known for being iron calm, make such a big mistake?
Back in the kitchen, the chef clutched his hair and slapped his cheeks. Then, he took a deep breath to calm himself down. He looked around furtively and went to his office. Disaster, this was a disaster. And he wasn’t thinking about the biryani. On a counter in the room, there was a small oven, supposedly for experimenting with new dishes. It was, in fact, a safe. He swung open its door, peered inside and sighed, ‘You, my dear, are about to cause a great deal trouble.’
And as if on cue, the phone began to ring.
‘Okay, what if I do get the diamond? Will you let this be my last TTTD assignment and let me open my restaurant?’
Bibi H looked at her son. She saw the excitement in his eyes when he talked about food. She patted the jewelled combs that held back her sleek black hair in a nervous gesture and closed her eyes.
‘Your Rafu, such a charmer he is. But really, what is this silly hobby of his? It’s high time he took things seriously and joined the family trade,’ her older sister might have said it, but she knew just about everyone in the family and their friends felt the same. The TTTD were big on tradition, and it would not be good for him or for them if he broke it.
She sighed. ‘Maybe,’ she said. ‘Let’s see if you succeed first.’
Rafu saw the conflicting thoughts playing across his mother’s strong and beautiful face. That ‘maybe’ was enough for him. He determined to get that diamond under any circumstance. It was the ticket to his dream.
Bibi H continued, ‘It’s not that easy Rafu, even if you find the diamond, it may be laced with djinn repelling spells. Do know how to deal with those?’
‘Yes, mom, that’s fully covered in our high school portion!’
‘As if that will be sufficient. Rafu, you have only eight days. That’s tough even by the most senior djinn standards. I just want to help you with some more advanced . . .’
‘Mom, just get me to Haiderabad, and I’ll figure it out.’
‘That’s your plan? “I’ll figure it out?”
In the room next door, Mir Dhokebaaz piled some more magazines on his face and covered his ears, but he still couldn’t shut out the endless squabbling between mother and son. He sighed, worst nap-day ever!
Text excerpted with permission from Penguin Random House India.