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Banerji [is] one of the most evocative of Indian food writers, blending an exact understanding of techniques with an abiding curiosity about the many human stories behind the art of food' —India Today In Eating India, award-winning food writer Chitrita Banerji takes us on an extraordinary journey through a national cuisine formed by generations of arrivals, assimilations and conquests. Traveling across the length and breadth of the country—from Bengal to Goa and Karnataka, via the Grand Trunk Road, then northwards to Amritsar, Lucknow and Varanasi, on to Bombay and Kerala—Banerji discovers a civilization with an insatiable curiosity, one that consumes the old and the new with eager voracity. Weaving together myths and folklore associated with food, the people and their culture, the author narrates captivating accounts of life in the subcontinent: the legend behind the weeklong harvest festival of Onam; the strictly observed rules of kosher in the Jewish households of Cochin; the best Benarasi thandai that has a dollop of bhang in it; and the food and culture of the indigenous people who hover on the edges of mainstream consciousness, among others. Eating India is also peppered with fascinating titbits from India's history: the use of 'shali' rice to make pilafs during the Mughal period; the advent of chillies with the arrival of the Portuguese; British, apart from Goan, influence on Parsi society that prompted the Parsis to open the first girls' school in India in 1849; and the medieval movable feast that unfolded on the travellers' platter as they moved from east to west on Sher Shah Suri's Sarak-i-Azam. At different points in her journey, Banerji shows us how restructuring old customs and making innovations is what India is all about: food in India has always been and still is fusion—one that is forever evolving. Certain to enchant anyone enamoured of Indian food and culture, Eating India is a heady blend of travelogue and food writing.
- Penguin Books Ltd, January 2008
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