"The Lives of Others" by Neel Mukherjee & ricotta-stuffed chicken breast
If you were a fan of The Lowland, you’ll love The Lives of Others. Shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize, Neel Mukherjee’s second novel is a dazzling portrayal of the turbulent political system in 1960s India, and its effect on the Ghosh family, which is already beginning to rupture at the seams.
Within the Ghosh household itself, five adult children and their respective offspring each occupy a floor of a shared multistory home in accordance with their position and power, reflecting the disparities in greater Indian society. The family fractures in the wake of India’s unraveling society, reflecting the growing chasm between the wealthy and the poor. Generational differences permeate the home amidst rivalries, secrets, cultural differences, and disagreements that reside on opposing sides of the political and social spectrum.
Alternating between third person narration and first person reflections from Supratik – the most radically political member of the Ghosh family – Mukherjee shifts between pre-independence Calcutta and 1960s Calcutta. The two are so starkly different, yet plagued by the ills of their unsteady society. By the end of the book, no character is free of anguish or violence. Yet Mukherjee’s greatest feat is ensuring our empathy for these complex characters with deft observation and psychological nuance.
The novel is a vivid exploration of historical turmoil, both familial and national, and the resulting decay of both. The Lives of Others is more than anything, however, a complex meditation on suffering, and the nature of irreparable human abuses, ideologies and oppression.
This chicken breast is juicy, tender and delicious. Like The Lives of Others, the chicken is delicate and full of subtle complexity, and much like the Ghosh family, its intricacy and complexity ensure that it stays together, if only just barely.
RICOTTA-STUFFED CHICKEN BREAST
- Two thin pieces of chicken breast
- Italian seasoning
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 1 ½ tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp Lemon or lime juice
- 2 tbsp Olive oil
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- Ricotta cheese
- Cherry tomatoes
- Mushrooms, sliced
Pound each piece of chicken breast so it is thin and even.
Marinate chicken breast in marinade of 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp lemon/lime juice, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, 1 tsp chili powder, and 1 tsp cumin.
While chicken is marinating, prepare filling in a separate bowl. Combine ricotta cheese, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper, ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp cumin, spinach, and sliced mushrooms.
Lay each piece of chicken breast out and spoon a suitable amount of the filling onto the chicken. Roll the chicken gently until fully closed (like a wrap). Hold in place with a toothpick. Repeat with remaining pieces of chicken.
Grease a Pyrex baking pan with olive oil and place the rolled pieces of chicken in the pan. Sprinkle each piece with Italian seasoning.
Distribute cherry tomatoes around chicken rolls in baking pan.
Bake at 400ºF for 35 to 40 minutes or until cooked through.