The New York Times
Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerorsby Lizzie Collingham
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Curry serves up a delectable history of Indian cuisine, ranging from the imperial kitchen of the Mughal invader Babur to the smoky cookhouse of the British Raj. In this fascinating volume, the first authoritative history of Indian food, Lizzie Collingham reveals that almost every well-known Indian dish is the product of a long history of invasion and the fusion of different food traditions. We see how, with the arrival of Portuguese explorers and the Mughal horde, the cooking styles and ingredients of central Asia, Persia, and Europe came to the subcontinent, where over the next four centuries they mixed with traditional Indian food to produce the popular cuisine that we know today. Portuguese spice merchants, for example, introduced vinegar marinades and the British contributed their passion for roast meat. When these new ingredients were mixed with native spices such as cardamom and black pepper, they gave birth to such popular dishes as biryani, jalfrezi, and vindaloo. In fact, vindaloo is an adaptation of the Portuguese dish "carne de vinho e alhos-"-the name "vindaloo" a garbled pronunciation of "vinho e alhos"--and even "curry" comes from the Portuguese pronunciation of an Indian word. Finally, Collingham describes how Indian food has spread around the world, from the curry houses of London to the railway stands of Tokyo, where "karee raisu" (curry rice) is a favorite Japanese comfort food. We even visit Madras Mahal, the first Kosher Indian restaurant, in Manhattan. Richly spiced with colorful anecdotes and curious historical facts, and attractively designed with 34 illustrations, 5 maps, and numerous recipes, Curry is vivid, entertaining, and delicious--a feast for food lovers everywhere.
The New York Times
The New York Times Book Review
"Cooks should relish Curry."USA Today
"A lively study of Indian cooking from the Mogul Empire of the 1600s to Utsav in 21st-century Manhattan, one of the 'new breed' of Indian restaurants. It's a long but tasty journey, made easily digestible by Collingham."Alison McCullough, New York Times Book Review
"Fascinating.... Collingham skillfully weaves her way through the complex cultural transactions that yielded a specialized Anglo-Indian cuisine based, in large part, on mutual misunderstanding.... One of her goals, in tracing the evolution of curry and the global spread of Indian cuisine, is to pull the rug out from under the idea that India, or any other nation, ever had a cuisine that was not constantly in the process of assimilation and revision. The very dishes, flavors and food practices that we think of as timelessly, quintessentially Indian turn out to be, as often as not, foreign imports or newfangled inventions. That includes chili peppers and tea."William Grimes, The New York Times
"Her research and personal ruminations take the reader on an intriguing, colorful journey, dispelling any notion that curry as we know it is fixed, immutable or, for that matter, completely Indian.... She convincingly demonstrates that the foods of a country or region are inextricably linked to the historical, cultural and economic forces that shaped it and the people who ruled it."Judith Weinraub, Washington Post Book World
"Collingham tells the story of how the culinary habits of conquerors and conquered got jumbled up in India with great flair, drawing on historical records and local lore to color her tale."Time Magazine, Asia
"This delightful book is liberally sprinkled with colorful historical facts and anecdotes, adding spice to the fascinating story of one of India's signature gifts to the world."Seattle Times
"Collingham is a diligent researcher with an eye to a compelling or amusing detail or quotation. Her book is therefore packed with information, and perhaps best read in small portions, so each can be savored.... Her recipes are alluring. They come at the end of the chapters, and the history therein makes them all the more enticing. They are adapted to Western kitchens, so this is a book that serious cooks will enjoy, as will anyone interested in the many regions with their varied climates, histories and cultures that make up modern India."Claire Hopley, Washington Times
"Scholarly, accessable and above all utterly original, Curry is one of the hottest and most mouth-watering books of non-fiction about India to appear for many years. Lizzie Collingham has shown herself to be a major new talent in the field."William Dalrymple, author of White Mughals
"An interesting story that's 5 parts history, 1 part culinary, and wholly entertaining to read.... Collingham couples excellent story telling with exhaustive research. The result is a historical perspective on Indian fare that is as mouth watering as it is informative."DCist.com
"Like a fragrant biryani studded with bits of sweet and savory relishes, every page of this history of Indian cuisine offers some revelation about the origins of Indian food and its spread to the West."Booklist
"Collingham's mixed approach is a delight: it's not every cookbook that incorporates an exhaustive (indeed, footnoted) culinary history, and few works of regional history lovingly explain how to make a delicious Lamb Korma. Collingham's account is generous, embracing complexity to create a richer exploration of the 'exotic casserole' that conquered the world."Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Curry should be handed round with the poppadoms. A mouth-watering book, exhaustively researched, rich in anecdote and sprinkled with recipes both sumptuous (three pages on how to prepare chicken biriyani) and less so (twelfth-century instructions for roasting black rat), it provides the perfect stimulus for the next stepthe giant leap from curry powder and chicken tikka masala to the real delights of the most varied, imaginative and delicious cuisine in the world"Literary Review
"Successfully depicts the vivid history of Indian foods and cooking. Curry is richly peppered with illustrations, maps, and, of course, recipes.... All libraries will want to add this to their collections."Library Journal
"From the influence of Moghul and Portugese to Britons, the book traces the evolution, transformation and reincarnation of curry, with rich anecdotes and tempting recipes. Lizzie Collingham has woven a fascinating culinary cruise that also enlightens us about India's history through its most popular export, the curry." Mira Advani Honeycutt, Food and Wine Writer
"Lizzie Collingham's Curry is a spicy tale, well researched and deliciously told. She unveils the secrets behind one of the world's most important yet mysterious condiments. It's a great read with plenty of tasty recipes." Andrew F. Smith, Editor-in-Chief, Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America
"Lizzie Collingham's love and passion for Indian food and flavors is well depicted in the book. It seems that she painstakingly researched the origin, history and lore of Indian food. I was very captivated by the stories and discovered that they tied into many of the lessons I have learned from the cooks I had worked with in India during my culinary profession. I think that this is a definite read for all Indophiles and will be one of the books I will recommend to my cooks and guests interested in food from the subcontinent."Executive Chef Floyd Cardoz, Tabla & Bread Bar
"Finally a book that does justice to the complexity of curry and the diaspora that carried it around the world. Curry is rigorous and yet playful about a cuisine that belongs to everyone in all its hybridity and yet cannot be traced back to any one place. It does not shy away from the topography of imperial British power that shaped the curry in its dispersal through indentured servitude and the British merchant marine, while at the same time acknowledging that curry is how the empire strikes back." Krishnendu Ray, author of The Migrant's Table and Associate Professor, The Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park
"What this smart little book does is unpick some of the pathways by which various meats, fish, fruits and rice came together at particular moments in history to produce, say, a lamb pasanda or even our own particular favorite, chicken tikka masala ('curry,' it turns out, is a generic term that Indians themselves would never use)."Kathryn Hughes, Guardian
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Meet the Author
Lizzie Collingham, a Cambridge-trained historian, is a free-lance scholar and writer. She is the author of Imperial Bodies: The Physical Experience of the Raj.
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This little volue introduced our bookclub to a cuisine rich in history and foods that are heavenly. It inspired a great potluck meal and spurred us to explore the Indian groceries and restaurants in our area. Great recipies! Wonderful history.