This Companion outlines the enormous variety of cuisines, food materials and dishes that collectively fall under the term’ Indian food’. Drawing upon material from a range of sources – literature, archaeology, epigraphic records, anthropology, philology and botanical and genetic studies - the book chronologically details the history of Indian food, beginning with prehistoric times and ending with British rule. Achaya discusses the various regional cuisines, theories and classification of food, as well as the customs, rituals and beliefs observed by different communities and religious groups. This book won an international prize awarded by the Italian food promotion organization, Premio Langhe Ceretto in 1995. Extensively revised since its first publication in 1994, this rich storehouse of fascinating information on Indian food will interest food aficionados, historians anthropologists, and general readers.
The present volume is the outcome of a research project on the history of Science in India, funded generously by the Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi. The Centre for the History and Philosophy of Science, Bangalore: provided the administrative support. I am grateful to Dr. A. K. Bag of the former organization and Dr. B. V. Subbarayappa of the latter.
The book deals with the food materials and food practices of the Indian subcontinent. The arrangement of the first thirteen chapters is broadly historical, ending with the period of British food ambience in India. A few regional cuisines have been considered, again within a historical context wherever possible; there will still be room for exploration by scholars of local literatures and cultural mores. The fourteenth and fifteenth chapters describe the origins of Indian food materials in botanical and genetic terms. The last chapter is concerned with the food plants that were brought into India from South America and Mexico after the 15th century AD. Each chapter carries one or more boxed items. This essentially journalistic device enables the inclusion and highlighting of relevant material which might otherwise interrupt the narrative flow of the text. References are numbered chapterwise, and listed together at the end of the book, to avoid distractions caused by footnotes, or even end-of-chapter notes. The four indexes should be helpful in locating various types of specific information without difficulty.
Italicizing Indian words in a text dealing with Indian food would have made for uncomfortable reading, and has therefore been avoided. I have attempted to use English spellings as close as possible to the Indian pronunciation. This has meant some simplification of the several sh, th, ch, t, I and n sounds of Sanskrit, Tamil and other Indian languages. Except for indicating lengthened vowels, diacritical marks have been avoided. Thus thava represents the Indian griddle pan, shali winter rice, shastra knowledge and Charaka and Sushrutha the two medical writers.
Particular assistance in regard to the historical foods was rendered by Smt. Visalakshi and Dr. (Smt.) Radha Krishnamurthy (for Karnataka), by the late Dr. Saradha S. Srinivasan (for Gujarat), and by Smt. Bunny Gupta and Smt. Jaya Chaliha (for Bengal), to all of whom I owe a debt of thanks. Illustrations have come from many hands, each of which has been individually credited. I am grateful to the Oxford University Press, and to Mukul Mangalik for seeing the book through the press.
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