The extreme diversity of Indian food cultureincluding the dizzying array of ingredients and dishesis made manageable in this groundbreaking reference. India has no national dish or cuisine; however, certain ingredients, dishes, and cooking styles are typical of much of the subcontinent's foodways. There are also common ways of thinking about food. The balanced coverage found herein covers many states ignored by previous food writers. Students will find much of cultural interest here to complement country studies and foodies will discover fresh perspectives.
From prehistoric times there has been considerable mixing of cultures and cuisines within India. Today, the endless variations in cuisine reflect religious, community, regional, and economic differences and histories. Sen, a noted author on Indian cuisine, consummately encapsulates the foodways in historical context, including the influence of the British period (the Raj). Among the topics covered are the restrictions of various religions and castes and the northern wheat-based vs. the southern rice-based cuisine, with an extensive review of each regional cuisine with typical meals. She characterizes the only-recent restaurant culture, with mention of Indian fare offered abroad. In addition, the Indian sweet tooth so apparent in the dishes made for many festivals and celebrations is highlighted. The roles of diet and health are also explained, with an emphasis on Ayruveda, which is gaining support in Western countries. A plethora of recipes for different regions and occasions complements the text.