Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors

Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors

Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors

Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors

Synopsis

Curryserves up a delectable history of Indian cuisine, ranging from the imperial kitchen of the Mughal invader Babur to the smoky cookhouse of the British Raj.
In this fascinating volume, the first authoritative history of Indian food, Lizzie Collingham reveals that almost every well-known Indian dish is the product of a long history of invasion and the fusion of different food traditions. We see how, with the arrival of Portuguese explorers and the Mughal horde, the cooking styles and ingredients of central Asia, Persia and Europe came to the subcontinent, where over the next four centuries they mixed with traditional Indian food to produce the popular cuisine that we know today. Portuguese spice merchants, for example, introduced vinegar marinades and the British contributed their passion for roast meat. When these new ingredients were mixed with native spices such as cardamom and black pepper, they gave birth to such popular dishes as biryani, jalfrezi, and vindaloo. In fact, vindaloo is an adaptation of the Portuguese dishcarnede vinho e alhos--the name "vindaloo" a garbled pronunciation ofvinho e alhos--and even "curry" comes from the Portuguese pronunciation of an Indian word. Finally, Collingham describes how Indian food has spread around the world, from the curry houses of London to the railway stands of Tokyo, wherekaree raisu(curry rice) is a favorite Japanese comfort food. We even visit Madras Mahal, the first Kosher Indian restaurant, in Manhattan.
Richly spiced with colorful anecdotes and curious historical facts, and attractively designed with 34 illustrations, 5 maps, and numerous recipes,Curryis vivid, entertaining, and delicious--a feast for food lovers everywhere.

Excerpt

In 1994 I drank my first lassi at Dipti's Pure Drinks in the Colaba area of Bombay. Its thick, velvety sweetness was seductive. During my stay in the city I kept on returning for more. I also ate my first vegetarian thali in a workingman's eatery, and wondered about the state of the kitchens when a rat sat on my foot. At the home of John and Susan Gnanasundaram in Madras I discovered the delights of Indian home cooking: spongy idlis with freshly made, bright green, sharp, coriander chutney for breakfast and rich chicken curries for dinner. None of it tasted like the Indian food I was used to in British Indian restaurants.

A few months later I became very ill with cholera. While I was recovering I could only manage to eat tea and toast. I also discovered that tourist hotels still served the food of the Raj and recuperated on a diet of yellow omelettes. Once recovered, I sampled mulligatawny soup at an expensive Delhi hotel restaurant, surrounded by the leftover trappings of the Raj—cane chairs and potted palms. The soup was sour and hot and I thought it was horrible. But my interest in Indian food and the British relationship with it was established.

I returned to Britain and wrote my first book about the British body in India. It traced the changing way in which the British managed, disciplined, and displayed their bodies as their position in India moved from commerce to control and imperialism. Part of this process was their rejection of Indian curries in favor of tinned salmon and bullety bottled peas.

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