The answers to all these questions, and may more, can be found in this amazing and richly-textured little book. It shows how our wonderful Indian cuisine, with all its regional variants, is the outcome of food plants brought into India from numerous directions over thousands of years. How food occupied an important niche in the natural cycle. And of a social ethic in which cleanliness was indeed next to godliness.
About the Author:
Dr Achaya is a leading food scientist and nutritionist. He is India's leading authority on food history and has many publications to his credit. His vast knowledge and fund of 'food' anecdotes are complemented by his engaging narrative style.
Behind any of the foods that we eat every day, lies history and geography, botany and genetics, processing technology and high romance.
The ingredients of the food themselves have come to us from so many parts of the world. Some of them have travelled across continents and across oceans. For thousands of years, food plants have made their way to India to be adopted, adapted, nurtured and cherished here. Visitors to our country from ancient times, whether Greek or Chinese, Arab or European, have expressed their astonishment at the wide variety of food that they found in India, and its sheer profusion.
We still cook our food in ways developed by our predecessors. The ethos of food preparation, and the attention to cleanliness and purity are, in large measure, an Aryan inheritance that goes back three thousand years. For the last one thousand years, another culture, that of the Muslims, entered our country and gave new and richer dimensions to Indian cooking.
Frying pans, kadhais and tandoori ovens go back thousands of years. So do mechanical appliances for pounding, grinding and the pressing of sugarcane juice and vegetable oils.
In the last five hundred years, from Mexico and South America, came food materials that we now take for granted, like the groundnut and cashew nut, potato and tomato, and yes, even the chilli! All of which today no Indian household can do without.
This little book has been written to help you share some of the excitement that lies behind the food of India, and the magnificent culinary legacy we have inherited.
Dr. K. T. Achaya
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