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Hi all. I am exploring and learning so much more about my own culture and cuisine -- its mind boggling. I recently came upon some very interesting articles and research as I was researching the history of wines in India.. the Soma etc. It is terrific reading and I want to read some more.

There is only so much to be found here.. what shoould i be reading? What are some really good sources? People? that I can talk to.

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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I will only be pleased to help, let me know what kind of specific info you are looking for.



"Burgundy makes you think of silly things, Bordeaux

makes you talk about them, and Champagne makes you do them." Brillat-Savarin

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How bizarre. I was *just* wondering about what role, if any, alcoholic beverages played in Indian cuisine, before I logged in.

But, I didn't want to seem too foolish and you know, actually ask.

Indian food is one of my passions and I'm trying, slowly but surely to learn the history, culture etc behind the culinary delights. I'm also learning slowly but surely how to cook it. :wub:

I will surely be watching the progress of this thread, thanks for starting it!

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One thing you do not want to do is get in touch with... OK, lets leaved them unnamed, but lets just say they are a company who produces some of that undrinkable wine that Anil refers to. You are almost guaranteed on getting a lot of bullshit on the Great Wine Traditions of India and to listen to them it is just a matter of time before Baramati regains its rightful place up there with Bordeaux. Lots of highly dubious guff about drinking practices of Mughal emperors, the British in India and so on. Entirely avoidable as are most of their products.

To be really honest Monica I don't think there is really that much history of wine in India, at least wine in the sense we know it today. Nobody really knows what Soma was, even whether it was hallucinogenic or alcoholic, but it was certainly not wine and its confusing even to talk of it in such terms. If you're using wine to refer to any fermented beverage, then yes, there's much to go on from toddy to mahua to various rice spirits to the bottle of desi daru that I found surprisingly nicely packaged and labelled and for sale for just Rs80 at my local booze shop. I bought a bottle, took a sip and almost passed out on the spot. It seemed to be almost pure ethyl alcohol, flavoured with lime to help it go down, though personally I think that it this strength it blasts any sensation from the tastebuds.

And Anil, god knows I don't hold much of a brief for Indian winemakers, but these days some of their products are quite drinkable. The relentlessly globetrotting Michel Roland has ensured that Grover's produces a really quite good red in their Grover's La Reserve from grapes grown near Bangalore. Sula vineyards near Nashik is producing pretty good whites (sauvignon blanc and chenin blanc). And even the unnamed wine producer has a line in sparkling wine which is good fun to drink, if you don't have great expectations. (I will also confess a reprehensible liking for some of the Goa (red) ports, but that's because I like cough syrup anyway. On the other hand, theres a white port they produce that should come with danger warnings, its that horrific).


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I gather the quality of local wines will improve as the awareness towards wine increases (courtsey BPO,Call-center expendable moolas) - Still long way to go before it competes with beer and rum as favorite libations.

On a slightly serious note, much of ancient reference to 'soma' would probably also include blanco colored toddy,arrack,tharra and other non-grape libations which have a ancient history too.

The notion of red wine and related imagery has been imported with the mughals. It is quite surpising that none of Megisthese folks use it when they settled in the Indus Valley, after Alexander departed.... hmmm

Vikram: Your cell-phone was turned ff when I was in BOM :(


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Hi Monica,

When I was working as the Indian Food Guide for About.com, I had to compile these lists of sites. One of them was about Indian pubs etc. One site stands out in my memory. It was called tullyhoo.com or some such thing. I wish I could remember better. I think it was mainly a directory of pubs in Indian metros, but it had info. on beers, wines , reviews, etc. Perhaps someone there might be able help you or have some relevant links. If the site exists that is. I have tried all combinations, but have failed to come up with the site. Maybe someone else knows better. I'll try and see if I have some info. on my hard disk.


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Hi Monica,

When I was working as the Indian Food Guide for About.com, I had to compile these lists of sites. One of them was about Indian pubs etc. One site stands out in my memory. It was called tullyhoo.com or some such thing. I wish I could remember better. I think it was mainly a directory of pubs in Indian metros, but it had info. on beers, wines , reviews, etc. Perhaps someone there might be able help you or have some relevant links. If the site exists that is. I have tried all combinations, but have failed to come up with the site. Maybe someone else knows better. I'll try and see if I have some info. on my hard disk.



it is actually run by people i knew well in my delhi university days--though i haven't spoken to them in more than a decade.

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I browsed around DEL & BOM listings - I have come to realize that it is now time to come to-terms-with-my-old-age :hmmm: Many of the classic places are missing or gone.

The reviews of some of the pubs/bars in BOM (one owned by my cousins, and another close friends) are so hyped, they read like shills (no my cuzs don't write such stuff :biggrin: )

Edited by anil (log)


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  • 3 weeks later...


My name is Vikram and I am a co-founder of www.tulleeho.com. Monica, if I can answer any specific questions which can aid you on your quest or help put you in touch with people in the industry, do let me know. My mail id is chanty@tulleeho.com

Anil, Hi. Would be pleased to know which review (s) attracted your comments. Our reviews are based on community experiences and we don't have a separate edit team for the same. We do not take payments from bars or pubs or the equivalent in kind.



Edited by chanty (log)


Tull-ee-ho! : A combination of the old hunting cry Tally Ho! and the colloquial Hindi word "tullee" (used both as verb and noun, and signifying a state of inebriation).

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somehow i should have known you'd be the first to provide the link to tulleeho. i love that site.

my personal favorite drink is a.f. under vodka, though you couldn't make me drink it.


your friend whippy

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I always thought alcohol was an excellent accompaniment to good food and was rather put off on a recent trip to a specialised biriyani restaurant in bangalore.

I always thought beer washed biriyani down really well (esp on saturday afternoons!) but the owner simply refused to even put it on his future roadmap... reason: it "de-focusses" attention from the food!

Vikram, tulleho is an extremely well marketed site. Is there scope for some serious whisky forums? Didn't see any?

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