Sandhya over at Literary Safari tagged me in her post yesterday titled “What to read if you’re planning a trip to…India.” I posted my recommendations in the comments section there but thought I’d post them here as well, since many of them are food-related books. But definitely check out Literary Safari for a more extensive list of great literature and nonfiction set in India…where I might be going in 10 days! Yay!
Here are my picks for people planning a visit to India-
Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors, by Lizzie Collingham
A culinary history that traces the evolution of India’s food.
Curry begins with an outline of the basic Ayurvedic techniques and delineates how Central Asian presence interacted with and moved away from this culinary framework. Collingham also emphasizes commercial qualities of cuisines: Arab and Portuguese traders brought “Indian staples” along with them on their trade routes. She concludes with an excellent description on how the colonial experience helped to create a modern sense of Indian cuisine, and how this is still taking shape in the numerous South Asian restaurants the populate Western cities and towns.
Eating India: An Odyssey into the Food and Culture of the Land of Spices, by Chitrita Banerji
Banerji is an excellent historian and Eating India focuses on regional dishes across India, although she writes more about Bengali cuisine (especially fish) than any other region’s food. Still, her stories on travels, eating, and unearthing the history of dishes are fascinating.
Monsoon Diary: A Memoir with Recipes, by Shoba Narayan
Narayan’s voice is quiet and precise, and her story about growing up in south India and migrating to the US is full of intimacy.
Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found, by Suketu Mehta