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Indian Cuisine: Its history and development


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The Mobius Strip threads on eGullet - which discuss heirarchies of cuisines and are found in the General Food Section under various guises such as How to Approach an Unfamiliar Cuisine, the Measure of All Things - have led me to seek official documented histories of Indian Cuisine.

There seem to be thousands of such books about European cuisine which traces the origins of it, the entry of various influences, ingredients and techniques, the priorities, the passions, the prejudices ......

What I know about Indian cuisine and it's development is from growing up there and a little from translated bits of the Vedas.

Does anyone know of a book about the history and development of Indian cuisine?

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Achayas books are a good source to understand the history of India with a narrow culinary view point.

I am afraid, I have not yet found a book that has done even remote justice to the evolution of Indian food.

Madhur Jaffrey has done a great deal in her cookbooks. But other than that, we only have Achaya to fall back on.

Are there others we should know about? Anyone???

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Thanks for the links - interesting threads those - wish I'd been there.

Just ordered the Achaya book. Will post a review when I am done. If I ever get done, I'm a little daunted by the purported dryness.

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If I ever get done, I'm a little daunted by the purported dryness.

I have two of his books..... they are books I could not ever imagine reading in one sitting.... I have read through them over the years.. I think... not sure, that I have read all of both of them... and many times over of some of the parts... they are very dry... and sometimes very antiquated, but yet, something about them is still critical for the study of Indian food... At least till something new is written that covers some of that information.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Here are two interesting books to try. While they are not books tracing the history of Indan ciusine they both have some interesting essays alongwith recieipes.

1. The Varied Kitchens Of India by Copeland Marks and

2. The Calcutta Cook Book by Manakshi Das Gupta & others.

I will let you know of others as soon as I can think of them.

Bombay Curry Company

3110 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305. 703. 836-6363

Delhi Club

Arlington, Virginia

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I picked up an interesting book on Lucknow cuisine,called 'Dastarkhwan-e-Awadh;the Cuisine of Awadh',by Sangeeta Bhatnagar&R.K. Saxena.I found it in a railway station somewhere in India,but it's published by Harper Collins India.It has recipes,but covers techniques like Dhungar cooking,and traces their history[lots of pictures too]...I recommend the Calcutta Cookbook as well-a lot of interesting historical tidbits,and it's written with some sense of humor.

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Any book in the Penguin India series on regional Indian cookery (a lot of them beginning with "The Essential . . .") will have decent historical

background. Also, if you are at all interested in the amusing topic of

British Raj cookery, you might look at David Burton's Raj at Table or

Jennifer Brennan's Curry and Bugles (?)

Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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I picked up an interesting book on Lucknow cuisine,called 'Dastarkhwan-e-Awadh;the Cuisine of Awadh',

I have this book. it is a fascinating read.. not necessarily how I could cook.. digging a hole in the ground to roast something .. my neighbors would go nuts.. but good read

Edited by Monica Bhide (log)

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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Any book in the Penguin India series on regional Indian cookery (a lot of them beginning with "The Essential . . .") will have decent historical

background.  Also, if you are at all interested in the amusing topic of

British Raj cookery, you might look at  David Burton's Raj at Table or 

Jennifer Brennan's Curry and Bugles (?)

What do you think of these two books?

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Any book in the Penguin India series on regional Indian cookery (a lot of them beginning with "The Essential . . .") will have decent historical

background.  Also, if you are at all interested in the amusing topic of

British Raj cookery, you might look at  David Burton's Raj at Table or 

Jennifer Brennan's Curry and Bugles (?)

What do you think of these two books?

Burton's book is very droll and detailed. I haven't had a chance to more than glance through Brennan's book but it won an IACP award for literary food writing.

Many people also recommend Colonel Kenny-Herbert's 1878 cookbook _Culinary Jottings from Madras_ as an amusing historical document. Again, I haven't been able to read more than excerpts from it but I believe it is still available in the archives of a number of libraries.

Also the chapter on Raj cookery in the late Minakshie Das Gupta's first cookbook _Bangla Ranna_ (prior to the _Calcutta Cookbook_) is quite informative and entertaining.

Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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Any book in the Penguin India series on regional Indian cookery (a lot of them beginning with "The Essential . . .") will have decent historical

background.  Also, if you are at all interested in the amusing topic of

British Raj cookery, you might look at  David Burton's Raj at Table or 

Jennifer Brennan's Curry and Bugles (?)

What do you think of these two books?

I've got them both. (Must say that I bought Curries and Bugles because Laurie Colwin recommended it in two of her essays.) They're both fascinating as histories; I'm not sure I'd ever cook from them. Maybe someday, since the recipes in both look quite accessible.

I suppose there's enough subject there for a couple of threads: the adaptations made to native foods by colonizers; and the adaptations of colonial imports made by natives. (I hope I've said that in an inoffensive way; I certainly mean nothing negative.)

And what about the volume on India in the Time-Life Foods of the World series? The text is by Santha Rama Rau. That's the book that started my love affair with Indian food back in 1969.

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