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Indian Food - A Historical Companion
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Indian Food - A Historical Companion
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About the Book

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.

PREFACE

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.

 

CONTENTS

 

Chapter 1: Ancestral Legacies  
The world, man and his food 1
Tools of early man in India 1
The first paintings 5
Language and food 7
Words for food in Sanskrit 7
Indian words in foreign tongues 11
BOX 1: A WORD PUZZLE 9
Chapter 2: Harappan Spread  
Origins 13
Foods raised in the Indus Valley 15
Raising crops 19
Methods of storing food 21
Ways of preparing and eating food 23
Trade 26
Decline of the Harappan civilization 27
BOX 2: WEIGHING, MEASURING, COUNTING 14
BOX 3: EXTRACTING METALS, AND USING THEM 25
Chapter 3: Foods of the Gods  
The Aryans 28
Vedic agriculture 28
Cereals and pulses 33
Milk products 34
Fruits and vegetables 35
Oilseeds and oils 36
Salt, spices and condiments 37
Sweet foods 37
Water and other beverages 39
The expansion of the Aryans 40
BOX 4: SANSKRIT SOURCES 32
BOX 5: THE MYSTERIOUS SOMA 38
Chapter 4: The Foods of South India  
Influences on the food culture of the south 41
Archaeological food finds in  
South India 42
Food in Tamil literature 43
Rice in the southern diet 45
Other foods of the south 46
Trade in food in ancient south India 50
BOX 6: TAMIL LITERATURE 44
BOX 7: CHEWING THE BETEL LEAF 48
Chapter 5: Meat and Drinks  
The prevalence of meat-eating 53
The emergence of prohibition and the spread of vegetarianism 55
Alcoholic beverages 57
BOX 8: THE DRESSING OF MEAT 54
BOX 9: A CHOICE OF LIQUORS 59
Chapter 6: India Food Ethos  
Aryan food beliefs 61
The idea offood 61
The classification of food 61
Kaccha and pucca foods 62
Pollution and food 63
Domestic cooking practices 64
Eating rituals and ceremonies 64
Festival and temple foods 69
Fasts 69
Buddhist food concepts 70
Jain ethos 72
The Sikh dispensation 72
The Jewish food laws 73
The Christian ethic 74
Food among the Parsis 74
Food and Islam 75
BOX 10: HINDU FOOD TAXONOMY 65
BOX 11: GOOD HOST AND HONOURED GUEST 66
Chapter 7: Food and The Indian Doctors  
Hot and cold foods 77
Recommended amounts and kinds of food 79
Foodgrains 82
Oil seeds and oils 83
Vegetables and fruit 83
Milk and its products 83
Flesh foods 84
Sweet items 85
Salt, vinegar and asafoetida 86
Water 87
Therapeutic diets 87
BOX 12: FATHERS OF INDIAN MEDICAL SCIENCE 78
BOX 13: A WIDESPREAD FOOD THEORY 80
Chapter 8: Royal Fare  
Manasollasa 88
Rice. wheat and imagination 88
Meat for a king 90
The many wonders of milk 91
Satisfying a sweet tooth 91
Foods of a royal couple 92
Karnataka 92
Royal feasts 92
Dining together 92
Sivatattvaratnakara 93
The royal kitchen and cooking accoutrements 93
Kinds of food 94
Accompaniments 94
North India 95
Epic feasts 95
Three royal meals 95
BOX 14: ROYAL AUTHORS 89
BOX 15: ROYAL RECIPES 96
Chapter 9: Utensils and Food Preparation  
Domestic operations 98
Grinding and pounding 98
Ways of cooking 101
Kitchen and table utensils 103
Large-scale operations 108
Professional cooking and dining 108
Alcoholic drinks 108
Parched. puffed and parboiled rice 110
Oilseed processing 110
Sugarcane pressing and juice processing 112
Honey 114
Salt 114
Cold water and ice 115
BOX 16: UTENSILS OF THE VEDIC SACRIFICE 104
BOX 17: WATER-ICES AND ICE-CREAMS 116
Chapter 10: Regional Cuisines  
South India 118
Karnataka 118
The Kodavas 122
Hyderabad 123
Kcrala 123
Eastern India 128
Bengal 128
Assam 133
Orissa 133
Western India 133
Gujarat 133
Bohri Muslims 136
The Parsis 136
Goa 136
The East Indians 137
North India 137
Kashmir 137
Rajasthan 140
Uttar Pradesh and Bihar 140
BOX 18: KARNATAKA FOOD PROGRESSION 119
BOX 19: SNACKS OF THE SOUTH 125
BOX 20: SIXTEENTH-CENTURY GUJARATHI DISHES 135
BOX 21: BREADS OF INDIA 138
Chapter 11: Food Tales of The Early Travellers  
The Greeks and the foods of India 142
Seekers from China 145
Arab reactions 151
BOX 22: FOREIGN SNAPSHOTS OF INDIAN KINGS 146
BOX 23: TREES OF THE BUDDHA 149
Chapter 12: Muslim Bonus  
The Sultan's etiquette 154
The food of the gentry 156
Kings'drinks 157
The Imperial cuisine 158
The fruits of Hindustan 159
The common fare 162
BOX 24: THE JILEBI 155
BOX 25: ONLY GANGES WATER FOR THE EMPEROR 161
Chapter 13: The Coming of The Europeans  
The early comers 163
On the wonders ofVijayanagar 165
Scientist travellers 168
The Jesuits 169
British narratives on Indian food 170
The diaries of a mixed bouquet of visitors 173
Colonial repast 176
BOX 26: CITIES OF YORE 166
BOX 27: HEADY STUFF 171
Chapter 14: Staples of yore  
Cereals 179
Pulses 188
Oilseeds 193
BOX 28: PLANT EVOLUTION 180
BOX 29: SEEDS AS WEIGHTS 195
Chapter 15: Pleasing The Palate  
Tubers 198
The edible aroids 198
Yams 198
Sweet potato 199
Vegetables 199
Grecn leafy vegetables 199
Radish and carrot 200
Brinjal, bhcndi and arnbadi 201
Fruits 202
Melons, gourds and pumpkins 202
Early fruits 204
Major cultivated fruits 206
Plums, pears, apples and their like 206
Spices and condiments 213
Pungent spices from below the ground 213
The pepper family 214
Other spices 214
The sugarcane 215
Origin 215
BOX 30: A BUNCH OF BANANAS 207
BOX 31: CITRUS RELATIVES 211
Chapter 16: Bounty From The New World  
Oilseeds 218
Nuts 222
Fruits 223
Vegetables 225
Pleasurable foods 227
BOX 32: EARLY ANIMAL TRANSFERS 234
BOX 33: REACHING AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS 236
References 239
Glossary and Index of non-English words 260
Index of Latin names 285
Author Index 291
General Index 298

 

Sample Pages
















Indian Food - A Historical Companion

Item Code:
NAL232
Cover:
Paperback
Edition:
1998
ISBN:
9780195644166
Language:
English
Size:
9.5 inch X 7.5 inch
Pages:
338 (129 B/W Illustrations)
Other Details:
Weight of the Book: 480 gms
Price:
$35.00   Shipping Free
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About the Book

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.

PREFACE

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.

 

CONTENTS

 

Chapter 1: Ancestral Legacies  
The world, man and his food 1
Tools of early man in India 1
The first paintings 5
Language and food 7
Words for food in Sanskrit 7
Indian words in foreign tongues 11
BOX 1: A WORD PUZZLE 9
Chapter 2: Harappan Spread  
Origins 13
Foods raised in the Indus Valley 15
Raising crops 19
Methods of storing food 21
Ways of preparing and eating food 23
Trade 26
Decline of the Harappan civilization 27
BOX 2: WEIGHING, MEASURING, COUNTING 14
BOX 3: EXTRACTING METALS, AND USING THEM 25
Chapter 3: Foods of the Gods  
The Aryans 28
Vedic agriculture 28
Cereals and pulses 33
Milk products 34
Fruits and vegetables 35
Oilseeds and oils 36
Salt, spices and condiments 37
Sweet foods 37
Water and other beverages 39
The expansion of the Aryans 40
BOX 4: SANSKRIT SOURCES 32
BOX 5: THE MYSTERIOUS SOMA 38
Chapter 4: The Foods of South India  
Influences on the food culture of the south 41
Archaeological food finds in  
South India 42
Food in Tamil literature 43
Rice in the southern diet 45
Other foods of the south 46
Trade in food in ancient south India 50
BOX 6: TAMIL LITERATURE 44
BOX 7: CHEWING THE BETEL LEAF 48
Chapter 5: Meat and Drinks  
The prevalence of meat-eating 53
The emergence of prohibition and the spread of vegetarianism 55
Alcoholic beverages 57
BOX 8: THE DRESSING OF MEAT 54
BOX 9: A CHOICE OF LIQUORS 59
Chapter 6: India Food Ethos  
Aryan food beliefs 61
The idea offood 61
The classification of food 61
Kaccha and pucca foods 62
Pollution and food 63
Domestic cooking practices 64
Eating rituals and ceremonies 64
Festival and temple foods 69
Fasts 69
Buddhist food concepts 70
Jain ethos 72
The Sikh dispensation 72
The Jewish food laws 73
The Christian ethic 74
Food among the Parsis 74
Food and Islam 75
BOX 10: HINDU FOOD TAXONOMY 65
BOX 11: GOOD HOST AND HONOURED GUEST 66
Chapter 7: Food and The Indian Doctors  
Hot and cold foods 77
Recommended amounts and kinds of food 79
Foodgrains 82
Oil seeds and oils 83
Vegetables and fruit 83
Milk and its products 83
Flesh foods 84
Sweet items 85
Salt, vinegar and asafoetida 86
Water 87
Therapeutic diets 87
BOX 12: FATHERS OF INDIAN MEDICAL SCIENCE 78
BOX 13: A WIDESPREAD FOOD THEORY 80
Chapter 8: Royal Fare  
Manasollasa 88
Rice. wheat and imagination 88
Meat for a king 90
The many wonders of milk 91
Satisfying a sweet tooth 91
Foods of a royal couple 92
Karnataka 92
Royal feasts 92
Dining together 92
Sivatattvaratnakara 93
The royal kitchen and cooking accoutrements 93
Kinds of food 94
Accompaniments 94
North India 95
Epic feasts 95
Three royal meals 95
BOX 14: ROYAL AUTHORS 89
BOX 15: ROYAL RECIPES 96
Chapter 9: Utensils and Food Preparation  
Domestic operations 98
Grinding and pounding 98
Ways of cooking 101
Kitchen and table utensils 103
Large-scale operations 108
Professional cooking and dining 108
Alcoholic drinks 108
Parched. puffed and parboiled rice 110
Oilseed processing 110
Sugarcane pressing and juice processing 112
Honey 114
Salt 114
Cold water and ice 115
BOX 16: UTENSILS OF THE VEDIC SACRIFICE 104
BOX 17: WATER-ICES AND ICE-CREAMS 116
Chapter 10: Regional Cuisines  
South India 118
Karnataka 118
The Kodavas 122
Hyderabad 123
Kcrala 123
Eastern India 128
Bengal 128
Assam 133
Orissa 133
Western India 133
Gujarat 133
Bohri Muslims 136
The Parsis 136
Goa 136
The East Indians 137
North India 137
Kashmir 137
Rajasthan 140
Uttar Pradesh and Bihar 140
BOX 18: KARNATAKA FOOD PROGRESSION 119
BOX 19: SNACKS OF THE SOUTH 125
BOX 20: SIXTEENTH-CENTURY GUJARATHI DISHES 135
BOX 21: BREADS OF INDIA 138
Chapter 11: Food Tales of The Early Travellers  
The Greeks and the foods of India 142
Seekers from China 145
Arab reactions 151
BOX 22: FOREIGN SNAPSHOTS OF INDIAN KINGS 146
BOX 23: TREES OF THE BUDDHA 149
Chapter 12: Muslim Bonus  
The Sultan's etiquette 154
The food of the gentry 156
Kings'drinks 157
The Imperial cuisine 158
The fruits of Hindustan 159
The common fare 162
BOX 24: THE JILEBI 155
BOX 25: ONLY GANGES WATER FOR THE EMPEROR 161
Chapter 13: The Coming of The Europeans  
The early comers 163
On the wonders ofVijayanagar 165
Scientist travellers 168
The Jesuits 169
British narratives on Indian food 170
The diaries of a mixed bouquet of visitors 173
Colonial repast 176
BOX 26: CITIES OF YORE 166
BOX 27: HEADY STUFF 171
Chapter 14: Staples of yore  
Cereals 179
Pulses 188
Oilseeds 193
BOX 28: PLANT EVOLUTION 180
BOX 29: SEEDS AS WEIGHTS 195
Chapter 15: Pleasing The Palate  
Tubers 198
The edible aroids 198
Yams 198
Sweet potato 199
Vegetables 199
Grecn leafy vegetables 199
Radish and carrot 200
Brinjal, bhcndi and arnbadi 201
Fruits 202
Melons, gourds and pumpkins 202
Early fruits 204
Major cultivated fruits 206
Plums, pears, apples and their like 206
Spices and condiments 213
Pungent spices from below the ground 213
The pepper family 214
Other spices 214
The sugarcane 215
Origin 215
BOX 30: A BUNCH OF BANANAS 207
BOX 31: CITRUS RELATIVES 211
Chapter 16: Bounty From The New World  
Oilseeds 218
Nuts 222
Fruits 223
Vegetables 225
Pleasurable foods 227
BOX 32: EARLY ANIMAL TRANSFERS 234
BOX 33: REACHING AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS 236
References 239
Glossary and Index of non-English words 260
Index of Latin names 285
Author Index 291
General Index 298

 

Sample Pages
















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