Feasting on history

Feasting on history

Indian cuisine is ancient, diverse, and steeped in tradition, an amalgam of different ethnic influences, much like the country itself. The spicy food displayed at buffets in the US, or the ubiquitous “curry” in Britain are only a small fraction of the variety and quality available to food lovers.

Gourmet Indian food is typically associated with the food cooked in the courts of Indian royalty, particularly those of Mughal emperors in Delhi and Lucknow in North India and the Nizams of Hyderabad in the South. This food is characterized by elaborate cooking techniques and the use of expensive ingredients. However, there are thousands of hidden culinary gems to be found in kitchens, little-known restaurants, and places of worship around the country that require a discriminating palate and hence can be classified as ‘gourmet’. Religion and climate are two factors that have significantly impacted the development of cooking styles and food habits in India.

Once considered the shining jewel in the British Empire’s crown, India can today be easily deemed as the huge, 60-carat diamond in the World’s flavoured cuisine ring. The large variety of dishes, appetizers, snacks, side dishes and desserts have found numerous fans on an international scale, as Indian restaurants spread at an incredible rate, with an enormous success in every possible culture and in every possible corner of the World. Combining all tastes possible, the Indian cuisine is bound to satisfy spice-lovers, “salty” people and persons with a sweet tooth alike. The history of Indian food and especially of Indian appetizers is closely related to the country’s culture and traditions. The Indian cuisine is as diverse as the Indian people besides being extremely tasty and actually stimulating your appetite rather than diminishing it. Indian cuisine is also quite low in fat, since they are based on a number of spices and herbs, such as ginger, cinnamon, garlic, cloves, asafetida, aniseed or coriander, rather that the junk food culture one’ll find mostly anywhere else in the World.

The second most populous country in the world after China and the seventh largest in area, India is unique among nations in its diversity of climates, languages, religions, tribes, customs and cuisines. For thousands of years, the subcontinent was the centre of a vast network of land and sea trade routes-conduits for plants, ingredients, dishes and cooking techniques to and from the rest of the world. Foreign visitors have long marvelled at India’s agricultural bounty, including its ancient indigenous plants, such as lentils, mangoes, turmeric and pepper, all of which have been central to the Indian diet for millennia.

feasts and fasts a history of food in india

Colleen Toylor Sen

Tiger

Price : `699     

Pages : 348

Today, Indian food in its many incarnations has become a world cuisine. This reflects an increased awareness of the virtues of a traditional Indian diet, especially the centrality of fruits, vegetables and grains and the extensive use of spices, the benefits of which have been confirmed by modern science.

Yet what is it that makes Indian food so recognizably Indian, and how did it get that way? Feasts and Fasts: A History of Food in India is an exploration of Indian cuisine in the context of the country’s religious, moral, social and philosophical development. It addresses topics such as dietary prescriptions and proscriptions, the origins of vegetarianism, culinary borrowings and innovations, the use of spices and the inseparable links between diet, health and medicine. It also looks at special foods for festivals, street foods and the splendour of Mughal feasts. This lavishly illustrated book gives a mouth-watering tour of India’s regional cuisines, and also contains numerous recipes to interest and excite readers.

by Nilabh krishna 

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