Colleen Taylor Sen has done the near-impossible: in 350 pages, she has mapped out India’s culinary lineage. Starting with Vedic Indian cooking traditions, Sen then charts trade routes bringing spices and cooking techniques from Afghanistan, Iran, China, and even Greece to Indian shores. With interesting, fact-filled chapters, Sen shows the kaleidoscopic impact of, well, almost everything — religion (Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam), dynastic power, colonial formation by the Portuguese, Dutch, and the British, and the recent globalization of the country’s economy — on present-day India’s diet and lexicon. She shows, too, how India has influenced cuisines around the world, with examples like the signature South African dish, bunny chow (a hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with curry), and Malaysia’s roti canai. This is Indian food history in all its deliciousness.
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