In Britain we claim to know a lot about Indian cuisine - we have London's Brick Lane and Manchester's Curry Mile, and takeaways jostle for space on high streets up and down the country. But what we experience as 'Indian' is just as likely to be Bangladeshi, or British, or a watered-down mixture designed especially for the western palate. Indian cuisine is much more diverse than we might imagine - just as diverse, in fact, as the Indian people themselves. In "Eating India", Bengali food expert Chitrita Banerji takes us on a thrilling journey through a national food formed by generations of arrivals, assimilations and conquests. In her mouth-watering prose, she explores how each wave of newcomers - ancient Aryan tribes, Persians, Middle Eastern Jews, Mongols, Arabs, Europeans - brought innovating new ways to combine the country's rich native spices, poppy seeds, saffron and mustard to the vegetables, fish, grains and pulses that are the staples of the Indian kitchen.She travels across the country, visiting traditional weddings, tiffin rooms, city markets, roadside teaspoon cafes, tribal villages and an industrial size temple kitchen, to find out how India's turbulent history has shaped its people, in particular its cuisine.
As well as delving into the country's culinary roots, Chitrita also investigates an India in current flux, and asks how a food culture's 'authenticity' can survive in an ever-changing, young-old, immigrant nation. Beautifully presented and illustrated throughout, "Eating India" will stand as an authority on Indian food for years to come.
Chitrita Banerji grew up in Calcutta and received her master's degree in English from Harvard University. She is an internationally recognized writer on Bengali food, and is the author of Life and Food in Bengal, Bengali Cooking, and Feeding the Gods. A two-time winner of Sophie Coe awards in Food and History, she has written about food for Gourmet, Granta and the American Prospect among others. She lives in Cambridge, Massechusetts.