A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors
This imaginative book tells the history of India and its rulers through their food. It follows the story of curry as it spread from the courts of Delhi to the balti houses of Birmingham and beyond...
Curry changed and evolved according to the tastes of the various invaders of India. The Mughals brought with them the rice dishes of Persia; the Portuguese introduced the chilli peppers recently discovered by Christopher Columbus in the New World; and the Mrs Beetons and Eliza Actons of the British Raj added jam, carrots and apples to their curry recipes. The Raj also ensured that curry came the other way, from India to Britain - and today the British consume no less than 18 tonnes a year of their favourite chicken tikka masala, a dish which purists claim is not Indian at all, but meat in gravy whipped up with a few spices (and sometimes a can of tomato soup!).
Almost every Indian dish is a fusion of different food traditions. This book, which tells the story of such dishes, and the people who invented, discovered, cooked and ate them, is vivid, entertaining - and delicious!
“'a thoroughly absorbing book, packed with fascinating stories.'”
Bee Wilson, New Statesman
“'richly researched read...More that just the story of a dish, this engaging book provides a sidelong history of India'”
John Koski, Mail on Sunday
“'This is a sensuous subject, and Collingham gives it a sensuous treatment, taking an exquisite but never gluttonous delight in describing Mughal banquets, and a sympathetic approach to the disappointments bad food brings to people who are a long way from home.'”
Bill Saunders, Independent on Sunday
“delectable...packed with fascinating facts, analysis and even some recipes, this book is a mouth-watering introduction not only to Indian food, but the the history of the sub-continent and its hugely influential place in the world”
“'marvellous and well-illustrated...based on exhaustive research and full of intriguing nuggets of information'.”
Chandak Sengoopta, Independent