Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors

Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors

4.4 13
by Lizzie Collingham
     
 

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This imaginative book tells the history of India and its rulers through their food. It follows the story of curry as it spread from the courts of Delhi to the balti houses of Birmingham.

Curry is the product of India's long history of invasion. In the wake of the Mughal conquerors, an army of cooks brought Persian recipes to northern India; in the

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Overview

This imaginative book tells the history of India and its rulers through their food. It follows the story of curry as it spread from the courts of Delhi to the balti houses of Birmingham.

Curry is the product of India's long history of invasion. In the wake of the Mughal conquerors, an army of cooks brought Persian recipes to northern India; in the south, Portugese spice merchants introduced vinegar marinades and the chillies they had recently discovered in the New World; the British soon followed, with their passion for roast meat accompanied by cauliflowers and beans. When these new ingredients were mixed with native spices, they produced those disinctly Inidan dishes.

Curry tells the story of an array of familar Indian dishes and the people who invented, discovered, cooked and ate them. Teeming with colourful characters, rich in anecdote and meticulously researched, Curry is vivid, entertaining and delicious.

Editorial Reviews

William Grimes
With the Raj, Curry really hits its stride. Ms. Collingham skillfully weaves her way through the complex cultural transactions that yielded a specialized Anglo-Indian cuisine based, in large part, on mutual misunderstanding. The English were used to starting a meal with soup. The Indians do not divide meals into courses, and have no soup. Liquids are poured over rice. Nevertheless, eager to please, Indian cooks in Madras used the most souplike dish ready to hand, a peppery tamarind broth called molo tunny, and jazzed it up with rice, vegetable and meat. This cultural mishmash became an Anglo-Indian classic, mulligatawny soup. Many others followed.
— The New York Times
Alison McCulloch
To the growing list of food microhistories with punchy titles, like Salt, Cod and Spice, add Curry, a lively study of Indian cooking from the Mogul Empire of the 1600's 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.
—The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly
There's nothing like trying to represent the food of India on a two-page menu to raise tricky questions about authenticity and mass taste. Isn't curry really a British invention? Does chicken tikka masala have anything to do with Indian food? Fortunately, Cambridge-trained historian Collingham supplies a welcome corrective: the cuisine of the Indian subcontinent has always been in glorious flux, and the popularity of chicken vindaloo on London's Brick Lane or New York's Curry Row (and beyond) is no simple betrayal of the cuisine. (As far as charges of cultural imperialism go, if it weren't for the Portuguese, the chilli pepper never would have had its massive impact on the region's delicacies.) Easy stratifications wilt in the face of fact: Hindu and Muslim culinary traditions have been intertwined at least as far back as the 16th-century Mughal emperor Akbar, and even caste- and religion-derived gustatory restrictions are often overridden by traditions tied to subregion. 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. Illus., maps. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In her latest book, historian Collingham successfully depicts the vivid history of Indian foods and cooking. Curry is richly peppered with illustrations, maps, and, of course, recipes. Beginning with a "quest for an authentic Indian meal," the author goes on to describe how foods in India have been influenced by other cultures, especially Mughal and Portuguese. Collingham also explores the impact that curry itself has had on foods around the world, most notably foods in Britain. Of particular value is the glossary at the end of the book in which Collingham defines such terms as ghee, toddy, and dhye. The work is complete with an extensive bibliography for future reading on the subject. All libraries will want to add this to their collections.-Nicole Mitchell, Birmingham, AL Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher

"A superb combination of culinary, cultural, and political history."--Books & Culture

"Part world map, part menu, this book is entirely delicious."--Time Magazine

"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 step--the 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

"A superb combination of culinary, cultural, and political history."--Books & Culture

"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

"Cooks should relish Curry."--USA Today

"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

"Part world map, part menu, this book is entirely delicious."--Time Magazine

"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

"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

"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

"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

"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

"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 step--the 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

"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

"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

"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

"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 of Sociology, The Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park

"Collingham offers up a fascinating study exploring the history of Indian cuisine from around the time of the Mughal empire. Collingham's deep passion for the history of Indian food is matched by her writing. Charming, witty, and honest, her prose provides just the right mix of scholarly and popular writing for both casual readers and students of culinary histories." -- Alimentum: The Literature of Food

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199883813
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
02/06/2006
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
631,945
File size:
5 MB

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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