An informative, witty and fast moving culinary history of the South Asian subcontinent, Lizzie Collingham’s meticulously researched description of the cuisine of the region is a sumptuous and easily digested delight. Moving sprightly between Persia, Afghanistan, Portugal, the New World, East Africa and India, she teases out truth from fiction on the origin and evolution of many “Indian” dishes that were, in fact, formed under the influence of successive waves of invasions and settlements. I’m not much of a cook (as my friends can attest), but this book really held my attention. Partly it is because Collingham weaves fascinating historical tales around the cuisine, and perhaps it is also partly because of my vivid childhood memories eating many of the dishes described in it. Nonetheless I thoroughly recommend it to those who favor Indian cuisine. (It certainly helped that I read it during a recent trip to India, where I was reminded of just how great a variety of cuisine exists that still cannot be found in the USA. My encounters with the cuisines of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu matched with Collingham’s descriptions and history enlivened and enriched my experience). This book is essential for anyone who wishes to understand Indian cuisine, and is guaranteed to once-and-for-all put an end to arguments over what curry is and where it originated!
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