When Santa Clara author Sandhya Acharya was young, she was fond of all kinds of sweets, especially gulab jamuns (pronounced goo-LOB jom-UNS), an Indian dessert comprised of small and soft donut-like balls soaked in syrup. Acharya remembered snatching up these sweets without her mom’s permission. Now that Acharya has children of her own, she has noticed how her children share the same antics as her younger self. So she self-published a picture book called “10 Gulab Jamuns: Counting with an Indian Sweet Treat,” a story about two young brothers who struggle to restrain themselves from gobbling up a bowl of 10 gulab jamuns intended for house guests.
“The memory of my mom making gulab jamuns stayed with me,” Acharya said. “Gulab jamuns are very popular in South Asian restaurants and they’re also served at weddings and at birthday parties. They’re soft, they melt in your mouth and they are delicious. Another interesting thing I learned about gulab jamuns while reading about them is that a form of this originated in Persia and now it’s widely available everywhere in India and South Asia. So the food started in one land and was adopted and loved by another land.”
At the end of the book is a treat for readers—a recipe for making homemade gulab jamuns. Acharya explained that the recipe belongs to Hetal Vasavada, her friend, former MasterChef contestant and a food blogger from San Francisco who runs the site Milk & Cardamom (www.milkandcardamom.com).
In March 2016, Acharya self-published her first children’s book “Big Red Firetruck” through Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) program. This book was in a digital format. Believing that children like to touch books and feel its pages, Acharya wanted her next book “10 Gulab Jamuns” to be a hardcover book.
“The writing part didn’t take too long; the story just came,” Acharya said. “The production of the book took about a year. I found Mascot Books (an independent book publishing company) and took it forward from there. Mascot Books sent me a number of portfolios for a number of different illustrators. One of the portfolios stood out—her sketches appealed to me the most. I went with Vanessa Alexandre.”
Acharya hopes her book will end up in every bookstore and home in America.
“Our community in the United States is so diverse,” she said. “There are so many cultures and sub-cultures that, in my opinion, are underrepresented today. There’s a huge opportunity for these kinds of stories to come out.”
Before calling Santa Clara home, Acharya lived and grew up in Mumbai, India. Although her background is in corporate finance, she immersed herself in writing after having children.
Visit www.sandhyaacharya.com to learn more about Acharya and to purchase a copy of “10 Gulab Jamuns.”