Indian Food: A Historical Companion

Indian Food: A Historical Companion

  • $46.00
    Unit price per 
Tax included. Shipping calculated at checkout.

Book Specification

Item Code: IDE898
Author: K.T. Achaya
Publisher: Oxford University Press, New Delhi
Edition: 2007
ISBN: 0195644166
Pages: 338 (B & W Illus: 107, Line Drawings: 34)
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 9.5" X 7.3"

Book Description

From the Jacket :

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.

About the Author :

K.T. Achaya (1927-2002) pursued scientific research in the areas of oilseeds, vegetable oils, processed foods and nutrition. His other books include The Food Industries of British India (OUP, 1994) and A Historical Dictionary of Indian Food (OUP, 1998).

Excerpts From Reviews:

'This is a serious, in-depth research into the history of Indian food...a fascinating study...enriched by an extensive glossary, clear illustrations and a mountain of references.' - Business Standard

'This is a superb book...clearly written, [and] will be of interest not just to epicures but to historians and students of Indian society. Now that we have this book, we may wonder how for so long we got on without it.' - Frontline

'Achaya has charted a magnificent course. ...There is enough material here to tickle the fancy of a practicing foodie, for whom there are delicious tidbits....' - The Indian Review of Books

'Achaya presents his knowledge well, capturing and making manageable the vastness and complexity of Indian food....His balanced approach brings new insights to a subject which has rarely been turned into a book...should stimulate the appetite of those who are beginning to relish the role of food in the development of Indian civilization.' - The Statesman

'Achaya has done a commendable job of writing the history of Indian food... .He covers a great deal of ground in painstaking... and interesting detail.' - India Today


Chapter 1
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

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

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

Influences on the food culture of the south 41
Archaeological food finds in south India 42
Food in Tamil literature 43
Rice in 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

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

Aryan Food beliefs 61
The idea of food 61
The classification of food 61
Kaccha and pucca food 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

Hot and cold foods 77
Recommended amounts and kinds of food 79
Foodgrains 82
Oilseeds 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

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

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

South India 118
Karnataka 118
The Kodavas 122
Hyderabad 123
Kerala 123
Eastern india 128
Bengal 128
Assam 128
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

The Greeks and the foods of India 142
Seekers from China 145
Arab reactios 151
Box 22: Foreign Snapshots of Indian Kings 146
Box 23: Trees of the Buddha 149

Chapter 12

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 early comers 163
On the wonders of Vijayanagar 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

Cereals 179
Pulses 188
Oilseeds 193
Box 28: Plant Evolution 180
Box 29: Seeds as Weights 195

Chapter 15

Tubers 198
The edible aroids 198
Yams 198
Sweet potato 199
Vegetables 199
Green leafy vegetables 199
Radish and carrot 200
Brinjal, bhendi and ambadi 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 214
The Pepper family 214
Other spices 215
The Sugarcane 215
Origin 215
Box 30: A Bunch of Bananas 207
Box 31: Citrus Relatives 211

Chapter 16

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

We Also Recommend