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Vikram

Indian diasporic cookbooks

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Does anyone know of cookbooks that cover the cooking of the Indian diaspora? I'm researching some stories on Indian cookbooks, and I thought this would be an interesting angle.

The few such cookbooks I've seen are fascinating - familiar Indian recipes, but with differences in ingredients and influences that reflect the histories of these communities. I guess many of these cookbooks are conscious attempts to commemorate these communities, so they all filled with anecdotes and nostalgia that make them really interesting, and often moving, reading.

I know the classic South African Indian 'bible' - Zuleikha Mayat's 'Indian Delights'. I have some South African Indian relatives myself, the wives of my Gujarati cousins who now live in India, and make some interesting recipes which they tell me they brought with them from SA. For example, they take kandh - yam with a weirdly blue-purple coloured flesh - and cook it and slice it thinly and use these slices to sandwich a mixture of grated coconut and coriander leaves and some other spices. It looks bizarre: purple sandwiches with a white-green filling, but tastes great.

I've just picked up another really interesting book: Recipes of the Jaffna Tamils, edited by Nesa Eliezer and printed by Orient Longman. Since Jaffna is just a strait's distance from Tamil Nadu one wouldn't expect the food to be that different, and much of it is standard Tamil stuff. But there are interesting variations, like a whole section on recipes using the products of the palmyra palm.

Also, and I realise this might sound political, but its not meant to be, Tamil Brahmin cuisine and culture seems to have less of a hold in Sri Lanka as it does in India. So while the image of Tamil food in India is dominated by vegetarian Brahmin cooking (at least till the recent rise of 'Chettiar' cooking), the recipes in this book reflect the non-vegetarian cooking that is very much a part of Non-Brahmin Tamil life. A recipe for rasam flavoured with chicken bones for example sounds really surprising to someone used to the common vegetarian only version.

Are there other such cookbooks for the desi communities in Trinidad, Mauritius, Fiji and where else? A friend who was coming from Guyana promised to get me a Guyanese-Indian cookbook, though unfortunately he cancelled his trip at the last minute. (But this link has some interesting recipes:

http://guyana.gwebworks.com/recipes/recipe...pes_alpha.shtml )

Any names, comments, recipes, suggestions from people with experience of desi diasporic cooking would be welcome.

Vikram

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Vikram,

Chillies to Chutneys(ISBN 0-688-15690-8) by Neelam Batra is touted as ' American home cooking with flavours of India'.

Even though the book is not primarily addressed to the desis in the US it is an iteresting fusion which can inspire many desi cooks.

I think most of the books you have located must be quite a few years old, as when you left home then for a new world, with comunication that existed at that time, you were really gone for a while and these books perhaps filled a need to connect with your homeland. Now, perhaps with the internet and cheap phone rates, that void is not felt.

I am reminded of a meal I had in Zimbawe. Sunita our hostess, was born and brought up in Kenya before marrying and moving to Harrare via Florida. She served us an excellent meal but stragely the flavors were not what I taste in India today but what I remember from the sixties.

All the best in your quest, keep us posted

Bhasin


Bombay Curry Company

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

Delhi Club

Arlington, Virginia

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We have a Singaporean South Indian cookbook, I'll check the name when I'm at home. It has more than one seafood rasam and the like, and the recipes are very tasty. Your comment on Tamil Brahmin vs. not Brahmin Tamil cooking made me smile. I was very excited to get my hands on this book and told a dear friend (who is Brahmin Tamil). He was offended that I'd go out searching for other Tamil books when he'd already gifted me with the indomitable _Cook and See_ (which I'll confess to never having cooked out of, but perused...I'm working up my courage). _The Graduate Student's Guide to Indian Cooking_ surfaced in the late 80s, I think there are still some ftp sites around for it. It was basically a collection of recipes for hungry grad students away from home trying to cook in the US.

regards,

trillium

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I have quite a few of these sorts of books -- I will PM you details. I have the original Veeraswamy one from the UK, one from New Zealand, for what its worth the original Dalda cookbook from the 1940's and many more


Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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The book I was referring to earlier was Born to Eat by Devagi Sanmugam.  Crab and drumstick rasam...  yum.

regards,

trillium

How could I forget Devagi. She is the "Queen of Spices" in Singapore. Or at least that is how she was introduced to me by the tourism people and the food PR people in Singapore. She was charming, articulate and wonderfully generous in her manner.

I still have frozen bags of spice mixes she sent me back to NYC with.

Her book, the one I have, and is boxed now, is nice.

And if you can find yourself in Singapore, get her number, give her a call, I can easily imagine Devagi giving you a tour of the Tekka Market (Wet Market) and sharing with you the wonders of the many tropical herbs and spices. :smile:

Thanks Trillium for mentioning Devagi. I shall check and see, once my cookbooks are in shelves again, and accessible, if my book has this rasam recipe. I will try it and think of you and this thread.

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Suvir, you are one well-connected member of the Indian mafia! (er, I don't mean mafia in the bad sense). I have not made that recipe because I can't get drumsticks here, but the other recipes we've tried from her book have turned out very well.

regards,

trillium

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Suvir, you are one well-connected member of the Indian mafia! (er, I don't mean mafia in the bad sense).  I have not made that recipe because I can't get drumsticks here, but the other recipes we've tried from her book have turned out very well. 

regards,

trillium

trillium, not connected at all, simply curious and also someone that loves to travel and enjoys people. I think I can live without food, but cannot live without good friends and conversations.

Devagi was the first person I was introduced to in Singapore. We met only once. But she left a lasting impression. We have traded emails and spoken on the phone. I would hardly call her a friend or a connection.

But she did give me a very strong sense of pride in Indian food and Singapore. I can imagine her sharing with similar passion with one and all the secrets of Singapore only a veteran with great curiosity could share. Having her as our first guide to Singapore, changed our experience in Singapore totally.

What are some of the recipes you have tried and enjoyed? Could you name some....

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I hope you didn't take my comment the wrong way, I learned about the Indian "mafia" when a friend of mine decided he needed some of his auntie's pickle and got it through the mafia a month later (the deal where he called home, his parents gave it to friends going to England who gave it to friends in England going to the US who gave it to a second cousin who was home for the holidays but went to the same university as my friend...no joke!).

I'm going straight from work to the train station for a weekend away, but when I come back I'll look through the book and note what we've like...it involved dal, curry leaves and fresh coconut....

regards,

trillium

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I hope you didn't take my comment the wrong way, I learned about the Indian "mafia" when a friend of mine decided he needed some of his auntie's pickle and got it through the mafia a month later (the deal where he called home, his parents gave it to friends going to England who gave it to friends in England going to the US who gave it to a second cousin who was home for the holidays but went to the same university as my friend...no joke!).

I'm going straight from work to the train station for a weekend away, but when I come back I'll look through the book and note what we've like...it involved dal, curry leaves and fresh coconut....

regards,

trillium

Rest assured, I understood exactly what you meant. And I too call it our Indian mafia. A harmless and good one, or at least it is meant to be... can be tedious at times.

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Just catching onto this interesting topic after returning from out of town. As a number have mentioned, there are very few cookbooks out there specifically on diaspora cooking. However, often you can find substantial sections on diaspora cookery in cookbooks or websites about the regions in which the diaspora have settled. Here's a short list including some "typical" Indian-influenced dishes from each region. Some are not so much associated with the diaspora cooking as with native adaptations of Indian dishes. However, it is often difficult to distinguish, since the same cuisine often serves dual purpose. Anyway. . .

Britain: Tikka Masala, Balti Cooking

E.P. Veerasawmy, Indian Cookery. UK: Arco Publishers, 1955 [1936].

Pat Chapman's Balti Bible. UK: Hodder & Stoughton, 1999.

Sabiha Khokhar, A Taste of Baltistan (sic - should be "Taste of Birmingham"). UK: Merehurst, 1995.

Japan: Kare Rice, Katsu Kare, Kare Udon

Uh, not aware of any in English, even though curry is considered one of Japan and Korea's most popular fast foods. You can find packets of curry "roux" on sale in any East Asian market; very few people prepare from scratch or even from curry powder. BON, if you are reading this, are you aware of any English-language cookbook with recipes for Japanese curry?

Anyway, you might want to check out the site for Yokohama Curry Museum

And the big curry roux manufacturer

House Foods

Anglo-Indian: Mulligatawny, Country Captain (many of these were popularized in Britain and the American Southeast)

Patricia Brown, Anglo-Indian Food and Customs. India: Penguin, 1998.

Minakshie Das Gupta et al., The Calcutta Cookbook. India: Penguin, 1995.

Singapore/Malaysia: Fish Head Curry, Roti Canai, Murtabak

Devagi Sanmugam, Born to Eat. Singapore: Golden Key Publishers, 1997.

Carol Selva Rajah, Makan Lah!. Australia: Harper Collins, 1996.

Cyber Kuali

Thailand: Gaeng Kari, Gaeng Masaman

Any reasonably comprehensive Thai cookbook should have these recipes.

West Indies: Curried Kid (Jamaica), Dhalpuri Roti (Trinidad), Phulouri Balls (Trinidad)

Pamela Lalbachan, The Complete Caribbean Cookbook. U.K.: Charles E. Tuttle, 1994.

Roti Shops of the World(!)

Fiji: Lovo Pork in Roti, Dhal Soup

Sam Choy's Polynesian Kitchen. U.S: Hyperion, 2002.

Friends of Fiji Cookbook.

In addition, here is a small but useful site on the Indian Diaspora by Vinay Lal of UCLA.

Actually was just in Atlanta - Haveli's was right next to my hotel - but wasn't able to try it. Tryska - could you give us a rundown on Atlanta Indian food on a new topic when you have time?


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

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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Madhur Jaffrey has just come out with something called the "Ultimate Curry Bible", which is, despite the somewhat misleading title, about Indian diasporic cooking. Here is the Telegraph review (about half way down the page). The book doesn't seem to be available in the U.S. yet, only in Britain. Have any of the posters in the U.K. taken a look at it yet?


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

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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Madhur Jaffrey has just come out with something called the "Ultimate Curry Bible", which is, despite the somewhat misleading title, about Indian diasporic cooking. Here is the Telegraph review (about half way down the page). The book doesn't seem to be available in the U.S. yet, only in Britain. Have any of the posters in the U.K. taken a look at it yet?

I've got it, just bought it last week (and at a discount too, three cheers for Strand Book Stall). Its pretty good - all that you might expect of a Madhur Jaffrey production and with the benefit of being focussed on Indian food (am I the only one who felt she was getting increasingly flaky, the more she ranged into southeast asian and world vegetarian food?).

Its a nice solid looking book, good notes on food in different parts of the diaspora, all clearly based on personal experience and the recipes are well written and, most important of all, make you want to run out and start cooking at once.

As the title indicates she's rather oddly passed on the opportunity to write The Big Desi Diaspora Cookbook, limiting herself to curries, meaning wet and spicy dishes and the starch and accompaniments that go with them (long piece on roti canai BTW), but that does cover a lot of ground. (The main losses are, I think, with the ways in which sweets and snacks have evolved in the diaspora).

Its also not comprehensive since some regions aren't really covered like Fiji and, most surprisingly, Mauritius. Still, as I said, this is as close as we're getting to The Big Desi Diaspora Cookbook unless there's some unknown genius toiling at it out there,

Vikram

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I have an excellent book which I bought in Trinidad called Caribbean East Indian recipes. The author is Kumar Mahabir who I think runs his own publishing house called Chakra. It has sections on Rotis, dall, sabji, chutneys and pickles, snacks and sweets plus a glossary of cooking and Hindi terms and photographs. There are 70 recipes and they look pretty good.

Mr. Mahabir gives his phone number as 868 674 6008 so perhaps you can call him and order it. (Trinidad like the rest of the Caribbean, is regarded as part of the U.S. for dialing purposes) His e-mail address is kumarmahab@hotmail.com. Let me know if you have any problems

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mmmm...doubles and phulourie! haven't had that since I lives in NYC - also miss the big dhall rotis with curry inside.

susruta - i will be glad to starts a new topic on Atlanta Indian - i'll go work on that now.

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After starting this topic, I read the book that more than any other date, answers my question. Madhur Jaffrey's The Ultimate Curry Bible (its got a different American title, Kebabs & Curries, or something like that) takes up this very issue of the cooking of the desi diaspora and deals it with in her usual style.

Its an excellent book - lots of fascinating material, both culinary and cultural, and some really interesting recipes which, coming from her, you know they're reliable. I've already made some like the kheema with orange juice which the bf, never the easiest of audiences, has been raving about.

I was so taken with the book that I did a loooong piece on it, including a telephone interview with her - many thanks to Someone for helping me set that up - and miracle of miracles my editor liked it enough to print it almost uncut this Sunday. You can read it here:

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/344293.cms

but to help persuade everyone on the India forum to read the book, here's the piece in its totality:

Cooking the Diaspora

Vikram Doctor, Mumbai 7/12/2003

Calcutta say challat jahhaj, Panwariya dheeray chalo(The ship is sailing from Calcutta, O boatman go slowly)

The words are from a song sung by poor labourers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar as they sailed in the 19th century from Calcutta to the other side of the world, to work as indentured labour in the sugar cane fields of Guyana and Trinidad. At a time when modern migrants from North India are a contentious subject again, its worth remembering how old their story is. From 1848 onwards recruiters from Calcutta, known as ‘coolie-catchers’, persuaded thousands of dirt poor mostly Bhojpuri speaking peasants to sign contracts that were only marginally better than slavery. For two five year terms they would labour for absolutely minimum salaries with the promise of free passage home if they wanted it. It was hardly the most generous of offers, but it did have one big benefit: then as now, anything was better than staying in the unchanging caste ridden misery of home.

The story of these migrants is little acknowledged today. If we think of them at all, its more for their descendants, the members of the Great Indian Diaspora, who we’re happy to pursue with our PIO cards, Pravasi Bharati days, Resurgent India bonds and TV crews when their most successful members make ceremonial visits home to see the villages from where their forebears fled (and probably to thank them heartily for doing so, considering how little has changed). Of the actual lives of these forebears, the stories of their journeys, of what awaited them at the other end, of how they survived, of what links they did and didn’t retain with India and where the diaspora is today, comparatively little has been written, especially compared to other diasporas like the Jewish or African ones, which are well served by books, studies and films.

This is starting to change. V.S.Naipaul has been joined by a brash new brigade of young diaspora writers (though still largely based in the US and UK). Mira Nair gave a rare cinematic glimpse of the East African Indian trauma in Mississippi Masala. Academics like Vijay Prashad are exploring the archives - his book  The Karma Of Brown Folk has fascinating historical material on early nineteenth century migrants to the US. And now quite literally to add some spice to these efforts comes one of the doyennes of the diaspora herself, Madhur Jaffrey, with a fascinating new book on the cooking of the desi diaspora. Madhur Jaffrey’s Ultimate Curry Bible takes on the journey of Indian food from the curries of British planters and the scant rations of those Bhojpuri labourers to the time when chicken tikka masala can be claimed as Britain’s national dish and non-Indian Trinidadians riot against an Indian dominated ministry under the slogan “We Don’t Want No Roti Government.” (The use of Indian food as an epithet for the community is very common. In South Africa recently a Zulu song that caused controversy by attacking Indians, had lines accusing South African politicians of indulging them because their “buds are watering for roti and betelnuts”)

For Jaffrey the book has been long in the making. “I’ve been collecting recipes for years as I travelled around the world,” she tells us, speaking from her home in New York. As a very well-known Indian food writer she would naturally attract the attention of members of the Indian community in the countries she went to, and as time went by she found herself becoming increasingly interested in their culture and their cooking. “It was fascinating for me to see the way Indian recipes had transformed themselves in other countries and how they had in turn transformed the food of those countries,” she says. It was a process she herself had been part of in one country; as she modestly notes in her book, she played a vital role in popularising and changing the profile of Indian food in the UK with her cookbooks and TV shows.

Jaffrey brings out the diversity of the diaspora. Apart from those Bhojpuri farmers sailing from Calcutta there were poor Tamilians (and other South Indians) sailing from Madras to Malaysia, Mauritius or South Africa, Gujarati traders journeying from Kutch to Kenya, Chettiar moneylenders to Burma, Sikh farmers leaving the Punjab for California and lets not forget the more recent journeys, like the second dispersal of Indians expelled from East African, or the most recent professional migrations of doctors and software engineers to the West. “All sorts of people were travelling from India,” she says. “I’ve come across a Parsi theatre troupe that toured Asia.”

Beyond these were the hazier trails left by Indian ingredients and techniques in countries like Thailand (biryani like dishes called khao moag), Vietnam (curry powder, perhaps from French colonies in India is used as a seasoning for dipping sauces) or most unexpectedly of all, Japan, where curray pan (steamed and lightly friend curry stuffed buns) or danshaku (potato croquettes filled with curry) are favourite fast food options. Japanese supermarkets have Indian food sections which are larger than their sections devoted to Chinese, Thai and Korean food put together, despite their greater proximity. Not that many Indians would recognise what’s on offer - the top selling ingredient, for example, is something called curry roux, thick slabs made of dried milk, fats, coconut milk and some mild spices that can be melted to form an instant curry sauce. “Japan was really the biggest surprise, because it all seems to have happened with the least influence,” says Jaffrey. (Maybe that’s what Netaji was doing all these years!)

Food changed as the diaspora dispersed further, of course, driving them further away from India and its ingredients. Jaffrey notes how the Tamilian communities in South Africa have lost traditional breads like dosas and iddlies, while similar communities in Malaysia have retained them. The difference was simply availability of rice, which was plentiful in Southeast Asia, but not in South Africa until much later. Instead the South African Tamilians had to substitute mealies, dried corn, the local staple. Many other substitutions were made: pungent wiri-wiri chillies for milder Indian ones in Guyana, a local herb called culantro which was found to taste much like fresh coriander (cilantro), finely ground chapatti atta nearly always had to be substituted with much less healthy white flour (along with Western leavening agents like baking powder for Guyana’s flaky paraata-roti), and yellow split peas had to stand in for all those many lost Indian dhals.

Yet those same dhals are an indication of constancy, she points out: no matter where they went, no matter what local legumes they had to use, the Indians of the diaspora would make some sort of dhall like dish. It could be the dalpuris of Mauritius, bread stuffed with dal, of Malaysia’s dalcha, where ground nuts are added, or Durban’s famous bunny-chow, a hollowed out loaf stuffed with beans meant for black African who were not allowed to eat in Indian restaurants under the strict apartheid laws or even the Indianised version of umngqusho, the traditional Xhosa maize and bean stew dish that a star-struck Jaffrey eats with Nelson Mandela. Along with dhals, the traditional tarka method of adding a  seasoning of spices quickly fried in oil at the end has remained. “Its always the same, whether its the tarka of Singapore, which is the mother of all tarkas, they add almost every ingredient, or it can be the chawnk of Guyana, so simple it must still be almost like they did it all those years back in India,” says Jaffrey.

Despite all the differences in how the diaspora was created and the places it went to, there were a few common factors that influenced the food. First, Jaffrey notes, was the simple fact of who was going: the indentured labourers were the bottom of the caste heap, and in any case, whatever caste hierarchies they had were automatically lost by going in the ships and crossing ‘kalapani’. The long journeys also made for bonding. “Whether you were Hindu or Muslim or whatever your case, you realised that those you were sailing with were your brethren,” she says. This meant that caste restrictions on what could and couldn’t be eaten were often dumped. Nearly all the old diasporic Indian communities eat meat she notes, though. in an interesting memory of India, she says they often turn vegetarian on holy days or when they are going to the temples.

Similarly while certain communities may have dominated the ships, they were often forced into one mass by their masters who were indifferent to the differences. All South Indians who left from Madras become one, whether Tamil, Telugu or Malayali (in themselves relatively modern distinctions). This is reflected in the food, where the subtle regional distinctions of India tend to meld - “it all becomes a general spiciness,” she says. A third point is particularly interesting though, especially in comparison to African slaves. For them the separation from Africa was total, there were no contacts, no merchandise obtainable from the lands of their birth. With the Indian diaspora though such contacts were possible, since people could travel back and forth if they wanted and could afford it, and most important of all, another stream of the diaspora, the Gujarati traders, came up exactly to supply the larger diaspora with products from home. “Slowly as people got richer they could afford to buy a few Indian spices, some rice, some products from home,” says Jaffrey. This crucially meant that at least some Indian flavours and traditions could be retained in the cooking.

Today, of course, Indian ingredients can be easily flown around the world, and unlike those poor Bhojpuri farmers, the latest members of the diaspora, the software professionals and doctors and businessmen can afford to buy them. This means that in some ways the sort of changes that came from the restrictions under which the diaspora had to cook need no longer take place. “They now all have wives or sometimes even maids from India to cook for them, so the food remains the same,” says Jaffrey, a bit regretfully. But change can come in other ways. Sometimes its just the new ingredients like broccoli that can now be added to traditional pakoras, or it can come from more non-Indians taking up Indian cooking, experimenting with its flavours and adapting it to their own. That’s how Jaffrey thinks Indian flavours will really spread in its newest territory, the US: rather than the curry restaurant phenomenon of the UK she feels it Indian tastes will spread as more American cooks start using its spices and ingredients.

Reading the book, its evident how much research and passion Jaffrey has put into it. She unearthed and tried to recreate the oldest British recipes for curry and curry powder, even though the people who might have eaten them were not Indian at all. “You have to consider the British, because the diaspora really starts with them,” she says. “That’s why I was interested in the sort of food that planters were eating, what was being served in clubs.” She’s come up with inspired guesses for some of the terms she’s found in the diaspora. Noting that Malaysian roti canai is simply the Kerala style flaky parottha made even larger, she suggests that ‘canai’ is another form of ‘Chennai’ which was, even then, the name by which South Indians knew the port from they set sail. Perhaps the most welcome part of the book is how she restored to Indian cooking the one part of the diaspora that might not claim to be so, and yet is inescapably a part of it and perhaps should never have left: all the many variations on North Indian cooking to be found in Pakistan.

Early on in the book Jaffrey says she realised what a vast subject the cooking of the diaspora could be. For reasons of time and in deference to her publishers she curtailed herself a bit, limiting herself to the best known Indian dish of ‘curry’ which she defines as any Indian dish with a sauce. Since she can’t resist adding kebabs, and some of the breads and salads that would accompany them, the book is a bit more complete than the title sounds. “I was going to put in desserts, but in the end left them out because of space,” she says. “And I have a few pickle recipes, but really that’s a world in itself.” The result is that one gets the impression that there’s an even larger book of desi diaspora cooking struggling to get out of here, to which things like pickles, sweets and snacks could be added and also the few regions she doesn’t really touch on like Fiji. “But I’ll leave that for someone else to do,” laughs Jaffrey. Her next project she says will be a book based on her childhood.

Yet one gets the feeling the diaspora will not leave her easily. The stories she came across, some of which she retells in the book, have clearly moved her a great deal. “So many of their stories are so sad like that song about leaving Calcutta,” she says. “They left everything behind, they didn’t know where they were going, they were cheated so often.” And so many of the memories are disappearing because there have been so few attempts to collect them, even in those communities. “So many of them have had such a struggle just to survive and come up, they haven’t had time for these things,” says Jaffrey. “Perhaps their children will do it. I hope more academics and writers do it.” Above all, she says is worth doing, whether by her or others, because its such a positive one. “Most people I met have done quite well, have become part of the mainstream and are prospering,” she says. Like their food, both Indian and yet changed, the diaspora’s story is one to be savoured, and Jaffrey has given us the most literal way of doing so.

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vikram,

great stuff. thanks for posting it. quick question: would it be possible (i don't know if your employers would allow it) for you (or someone else) to collect all your pieces together on one website? there's a certain qualitative difference between your food-writing on india and the diaspora and that of pretty much every diasporic food-writer (especially in the u.s)--i can expand on this if anyone wants-- and i think it would be good to be able to expose more people to your stuff in an organized way. at least i'd like to be able to point my friends and colleagues to your stuff. since you do post stuff here on egullet i'm assuming copyright rests with you?

one question: you (or jaffrey) mention the dal-puris of mauritius. i don't know if the suggestion is that this is something that gets created by migrants there, but bengalis in bengal do make dal-puris too. perhaps a different kind of dal-puri but worth pointing out. then again maybe the dal-puri returned from the diaspora? are there examples in jaffrey's book of things that may have made that kind of reverse journey? more specific responses and questions later.

mongo

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Good article Doc.

I think there is also a bigger trend you need to look at within India. Indian traditional cooking techniques and recipes are evolving rapidly at least in the metros and in some cases smaller town due to:

1 Rapid spread of eating out. Families are replicating what they eat out and in the process are creating new recipes. Take dosa or idli for example, I never remember as a kid it being cooked in a maharashtrian family, but now its almost like a weekly affair. In this process many ingredients are added or there is a cooking method twist which gives you completely different taste. I have tasted variations of sambars, pav bhaji, paneer bhurji, butter chicken, where you can hardly make out what is the origin of that recipe.

2 Processed food availability: Take the simple example of pickles, today you have such a wide variety available that the homemade pickle is now being supplemented with the store bought and in many cases the recipe modified to mimic the store bought. Or take curry powder, how many families in Mumbai still make it at home. I remember as a kid summer use to be the time when the home made masala used to be made. Now I don't think my family has made that kind of masala in years. Lot of Diaspora is still stuck with the past. Recently I was at my wife’s aunts place in New York and the topic of chapattis came in for discussion and she said the chapattis do not taste so good because it is made from readymade atta. I said now lot of people in India use readymade atta and she was like its not possible.

Her daughter who is born and brought up here wanted samosa recipe, I said forget it no one makes it at home in India and she was surprised.

3 Greater Mobility and intercaste marriages: This creates some interesting food improvisation. In our family we have kashmiri, sindhi, maharashtrians, Caribbean’s and because different family members have spent time all over India and outside India the traditional food and recipes have undergone sea change. I have noticed the same in so many families of friends and associates. Also once you start living in a cosmopolitan colony there is an active exchange of recipes which transforms cooking habit.

4 Adoption of western/eastern foods in Indian cooking: This is again a more urban phenomenon. Look at pizza, on my last visit to India I saw almost every shop in Bombay and Pune carrying pizza bases, which people use to make their own pizza. Noodles is another ingredient which is being Indianised. You can go to any grocery shop and see how many non Indian food items are stocked, its amazing.

So Indian food of today is vastly different from the Indian food of few years ago.


Edited by easyguru (log)

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      Ah, the avocado! For many of us, this humble little fruit inspires only one dish. Yet the avocado has a culinary history that is deeper than we may understand.
       
      The avocado (Persea Americana) is a tree thought to have originated in South Central Mexico.  It’s a member of the flowering plant family Lauraceae.  The fruit of the plant - yes, it's a fruit and not a vegetable - is also called avocado.
       
      Avocados grow in tropical and warm climates throughout the world.  The season in California typically runs from February through September, but avocados from Mexico are now available year-round.
       
      The avocado has a higher fat content than other fruits, and as such serves as an important staple in the diet of consumers who are seeking other sources of protein than meats and fatty foods.  Avocado oil has found a new customer base due to its flavor in dressings and sauces and the high smoke point is favorable when sautéing meat and seafood. 
       
      In recent years, due in part to catchy television commercials and the influence of Pinterest, the avocado has seen a resurgence in popularity with home cooks and professionals.  Walk into your local casual spot and the menu will undoubtedly have some derivation of avocado toast, typically topped with bacon.  Avocados have found a rightful place back on fine dining menus, but unfortunately all too often over-worked dishes with too many ingredients and garnishes erase the pure taste and silky texture of an avocado. 
       
      When I think of an avocado it’s the Hass variety.  However, a friend who lives in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, can buy Choquette, Hall and Lulu avocados in the local markets.  This link provides good information about the different varieties of avocados, when they’re in season and the differences in taste and texture. https://www.foodrepublic.com/2012/10/18/know-your-avocado-varieties-and-when-theyre-in-season/
       
      I for one must challenge myself to start eating and cooking more avocados.  I think my recipe for guacamole served with chicharrones is superb, and the cobb salad with large chunks of ripe avocado is delicious, but as a close friend recently said, “one person’s ‘not especially new’ is another’s “eureka moment.” Well said and as history tells us, we’ll find plenty of eureka moments as we discuss and share our tales and dishes of avocado during eG Cook-Off #81: The Avocado.
       
      Fun fact: The name avocado derives from the Nahuatl word “ahuacatl,” which was also slang for “testicle.”
      See the complete eG Cook-Off Index here https://forums.egullet.org/topic/143994-egullet-recipe-cook-off-index/
    • By Cookwhoplaysdrums
      Can anyone suggest me some good books related to Gastronomy, food history, culture, recipes based on different cultures. 
      Also recommend the best food magazine subscriptions. 
    • By artiesel
      THE BOOKS ARE SOLD
       
       
      I have Volumes 1 ,2 and 4 of Jean-Pierre Wybauw's Great Chocolate books are for sale.
       
      The books are in great shape!  There is some tape on the corner of the front of volume 1 that I used to keep it together after a drop.  Volume 1 is also autographed by the author (See pics below).
       
      I'm asking $150 for the lot OBO.
       
      Let me know if interested or if you have questions
       
       
       



    • By umami5
      Has anyone come across a digital version of Practical Professional Cookery (revised 3rd edition) H.L. Cracknell & R.J. Kaufmann.
      I am using this as the textbook for my culinary arts students and a digital version would come in very handy for creating notes and handouts.
    • By liuzhou
      Perhaps the food-related question I get asked most through my blog is “What's it like for vegetarians and vegans in China. The same question came up recently on another thread, so I put this together. Hope it's useful. It would also, be great to hear other people's experience and solutions.
       
      For the sake of typing convenience I’m going to conflate 'vegetarians and vegan' into just 'vegetarian' except where strictly relevant.
      First a declaration of non-interest. I am very carnivorous, but I have known vegetarians who have passed through China, some staying only a few weeks, others staying for years.
       
      Being vegetarian in China is a complicated issue. In some ways, China is probably one of the best countries in which to be vegetarian. In other ways, it is one of the worst.
       
      I spent a couple of years in Gorbachev-era Russia and saw the empty supermarkets and markets. I saw people line up for hours to buy a bit of bread.. So, when I first came to China, I kind of expected the same. Instead, the first market I visited astounded me. The place was piled high with food, including around 30 different types of tofu, countless varieties of steamed buns and flat breads and scores of different vegetables, both fresh and preserved, most of which I didn't recognise. And so cheap I could hardly convert into any western currency.
      If you are able to self-cater then China is heaven for vegetarians. For short term visitors dependent on restaurants or street food, the story is very different.
       
      Despite the perception of a Buddhist tradition (not that strong, actually), very few Chinese are vegetarian and many just do not understand the concept. Explaining in a restaurant that you don't eat meat is no guarantee that you won't be served meat.
       
      Meat is seen in China as a status symbol. If you are rich, you eat more meat.And everyone knows all foreigners are rich, so of course they eat meat! Meat eating is very much on the rise as China gets more rich - even to the extent of worrying many economists, food scientists etc. who fear the demand is pushing up prices and is environmentally dangerous. But that's another issue. Obesity is also more and more of a problem.
      Banquet meals as served in large hotels and banquet dedicated restaurants will typically have a lot more meat dishes than a smaller family restaurant. Also the amount of meat in any dish will be greater in the banquet style places.
       
      Traditional Chinese cooking is/was very vegetable orientated. I still see my neighbours come home from the market with their catch of greenery every morning. However, whereas meat wasn't the central component of dinner, it was used almost as a condiment or seasoning. Your stir fried tofu dish may come with a scattering of ground pork on top, for example. This will not usually be mentioned on the menu.
      Simple stir fried vegetables are often cooked in lard (pig fat) to 'improve' the flavour.
       
      Another problem is that the Chinese word for meat (肉), when used on its own refers to pork. Other meats are specified, eg (beef) is 牛肉, literally cattle meat. What this means is that when you say you don't eat meat, they often think you mean you don't eat pork (something they do understand from the Chinese Muslim community), so they rush off to the kitchen and cook you up some stir fried chicken! I've actually heard a waitress saying to someone that chicken isn't meat. Also, few Chinese wait staff or cooks seem to know that ham is pig meat. I have also had a waitress argue ferociously with me that the unasked for ham in a dish of egg fried rice wasn't meat.
       
      Also, Chinese restaurant dishes are often given have really flowery, poetic names which tell you nothing of the contents. Chinese speakers have to ask. One dish on my local restaurant menu reads “Maternal Grandmother's Fluttering Fragrance.” It is, of course, spicy pork ribs!
      Away from the tourist places, where you probably don't want to be eating anyway, very few restaurants will have translations of any sort. Even the best places' translations will be indecipherable. I have been in restaurants where they have supplied an “English menu”, but if I didn't know Chinese would have been unable to order anything. It was gibberish.
       
      To go back to Buddhism and Taoism, it is a mistake to assume that genuine followers of either (or more usually a mix of the two) are necessarily vegetarian. Many Chinese Buddhists are not. In fact, the Dalai Lama states in his autobiography that he is not vegetarian. It would be very difficult to survive in Tibet on a vegetarian diet.
       
      There are vegetarian restaurants in many places (although the ones around where I am never seem to last more than six months). In the larger cities such as Beijing and Shanghai they are more easily findable.
       
      Curiously, many of these restaurants make a point of emulating meat dishes. The menu reads like any meat using restaurant, but the “meat” is made from vegetable substitutes (often wheat gluten or konjac based).
       
      To be continued
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