About the Book
Culinary traditions in India, as in the case of many intangible elements of our heritage, have often been passed down orally from generation to generation. It is, therefore, interesting to note that a medieval king of yore, Mangarasa the Third, from the area around present day Kallalli in Karnataka, tried to capture the cuisine of his region with his composition of the Soopashastra, a poetic work in the vardhak shatpadi meter. This treatise was transcribed into prose by S.N. Krishna Jois sometime in the middle of the twentieth century. Through this work, now translated into English, we hope that readers will come to appreciate the continuing relevance of traditional cuisine as an integral part of our heritage. It is indeed comforting to realise that in the face of our ever-changing modern lifestyles, some things remain the same.
About the Author
Sri. N. P. Bhat I.R.S (Rtd) former Chief Commissioner of Income Tax (Delhi has a genial personality and is gifted rare creative insights and immense zest of life. Along with his service in Chennai, Surat, Indore and Delhi (22 years) he has a dynamic and successful organiser of cultural activities wherever he was posted, thank to his acumen for selecting the right person for the right job and a clear perception of events, situations and personalities. Presently, he is convenor of INTACH CHAPTER Dharwad. He has with him a group of dedicated workers and with their enthusiastic and active cooperation, within a short period, new life has been instilled into the Dharwad Chapter.
To top it all, he is a creative writer in kannada and has 5 books to his credit, one of which has won the prestigious Karnataka Sahitya Akadem Award in 1985. Some of his short stories have been included in anthologies of selected Kannada short stories.
Nerupama Y. Modwel is Head of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Division of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), New Delhi.
Indian cuisine is one of the most unique in the world, with every state and places within the states having their own particular culinary identity. There is an intrinsic difference in methods of cooking and in flavours in the food from Punjab and Kashmir in the north, Kerala and Karnataka in the south, Assam and Bengal in the east, Gujarat and Maharashtra in the west, so there is not one regional cuisine but an amalgamation by inventive housewives. The gourmand is, therefore, recommended that the best meal he seeks is to be found in the speciality of the place.
Much of Indian’s cuisine is rooted in history, and nurtured by tradition. Some sweet and savoury dishes are associated with festivals and rituals, and offered it the pantheon of Indian Gods before eating. Travel across the country can thus be a cultural and gastronomic adventure, the discovery of little known recipes in lesser known places that are not to be found on restaurant menus.
The “Soopa Shastra” written in Kannada dating to 15th-16th century is one such discovery. Its royal author Mangarasa III does not confine himself to the art of cooking but tries to trace the origin of the recipes. To that he adds a dash of philosophy that we are what we art, a pinch of science that seasons should dictate what is to be eaten to ensure good health; and a liberal sprinkling of anecdotes, making it a delectable piece of reading.
The “Soopa Shastra”, as the name indicates, is a historic treatise on food and drinks, found accidentally by a heritage enthusiast. All the recipes may or may not be epicurean, especially in today’s globalised world where we are spoilt for choices. It, however, offers a fund of interesting information that delights the mind, and tickles the palate. The proof lies in trying out the recipes if one is adventurous. Bon appétit!
It was in the seventies that I came across, by book entitled “Soopa Shastra” written by Mangarasa III who rule over a tiny state “Kallalli” (presently in Hunsur taluk in Karnataka state) in the 16th century A.D. I was then serving in the Government of India in Indore in Madhya Pradesh. Although I had not studied Kannada literature in college or at university, I had always had a deep interest in it. I was indeed thrilled to get that book from the library in Indore and I hurriedly perused it. The entire treatise on cookery in old Kannada (Soopa Shastra) was entirely in the form of poetry written in old Kannada language. I recollect that the Karnataka Sangha of Indore of which I happened to be the elected President organized a food fair displaying rare dishes of Karnataka for the benefit of the local people. I had come across Mangarasa’s treatise on cookery around that time and if my memory severs me right, we kept that book on display on the center stage. How could I have foreseen that, in 2011, I would play a major role in bringing out an English version of that book and that the said book would be published by an august baby like the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, Delhi. As Aldous Huxley would say, “Every book has its own destiny”! How would Mangarasa III continued to live in my subconscious for over four decades without my knowing that he was there.
It was in January, 2009, that I attended the All India Convention of INTACH Chapters in Delhi and in one of the sessions devoted to intangible heritage I informed the chairperson Smt. Kamalini Sengupta that we have in Kannada language, a medieval text on cookery authored by a king, Mangarasa III. Smt. Kamalini Sengupta was quick to realize the importance of this medieval text. She made a special reference to this book in the written proceeding of the session and asked me to get the medieval text translated into English. I returned to Dharwad brooding over the matter all through my return journey. On reaching Dharwad, I thought over the matter again and requested Shri Madhukar Konantambigi, retired Principal of the Central School, who happens to be a student of English literature, having studied under Prof. V.K. Gokak, the illustration Professor of English in Karnataka College, Dharwad, to undertake the translation. Shri Madhukar Konantambigi is also well versed in the art of cooking. So accidentally I selected an eminently qualified person for the job of translation. Shri Konanatambigi took to this work with a sense of dedication and missionary zeal and his script was ready in record time. Smt. Nerupama Modwel, who is looking after the Intangible Heritage Division in INTACH headquarters evinced deep interest in this project and consistently supported me in my endeavour. She also took pains to edit the manuscript. But for her encouragement and personal interest, this book would not have seen the light of the day. I owe to her my deep sense of gratitude for all the encouragement and timely help and support that she extended to me from Delhi. I shall be failing in my duty if I do not also place on recode my deep debt of gratitude to Smt. Kamalini Sengupta who had inititated this project. Needless to say, I am sincerely beholden to Shri Madhukar Konanatambigi, for his labour of love. In Karnataka it is customary for men to cook on formal occasions where a large number of persons have to be fed. When the food prepared is delicious, people in Karnataka comment that it is truly “Nalapaka”, meaning thereby that it is food cooked by Nala, the celebrated king who had married Damayanti in mythic lore. Similarly, Bhima, the younger brother of Dharmaraja in the “Mahabharatha” was known for his mastery over the art of cooking. No wonder, Mangarasa III, though a king, specialized in the art of cooking and left behind for posterity this outstanding treatise on cooking from medieval Karnataka.
The noted painter of Dharwad, Shri M.R. Balikai has, on my request, drawn the attractive illustrations which have embellished this book. I am beholden to him for his outstanding work done with a sense of dedication and love. Mysore University has kindly permitted us to use the text on cookery in Kannada published by Mysore University in 1969. That book was edited by late Krishane Jois. I Place on recode my deep sense of gratitude to Mysore University and its Vice-Chancellor Prof. V.G. Talwar, for having permitted us to use the book edited by late Krishna Jois as the basis for our English translation. I sincerely thank all my colleagues in the Dharwad Chapter of INTACH for all the support, help and encouragement extended to me from time to time. It is truly the combined effort of all of us in Dharwad Chapter of INTACH that has resulted in the publication of this book. My wife Dr. Yashoda Bhat has consistently supported me in executing this project right from our days in Indore. It was she, who was quick to realize the importance and value of this project from the perspective of those who do not know Kannada Language.
My sincere thank are also due to Prof. Smt. Damayanti Naregal herself a gifted writer in Kannada, who has taken enormous pain to go through the text and suggest suitable corrections and changes.
|A Submission From The Transllator||XIII|
|Historical background of Mangarasa III||XV|
|Prefatory Note in the Original Book||XXI|
|3 Rice Preparations||31|
|4. Vegetable Preparations I||41|
|5. Vegetable Preparations II||69|
|6. Vegetable Preparations III||91|