Mughlai Food Is Known As Indian Food
YUKSAM, (IANS) – If we are what we eat, then what are we? This collection of essays, ‘Turmeric Nation: A Passage Through India’s Tastes’ (Speaking Tiger) looks at food through tradition, religion, history, habits, genetics, geography, and habits by author Shylashri Shankar, a Delhi-based senior fellow at the Center for Policy Research serves as an assertion that it is only through hybridity and not uniformity that the true essence of India comes forth.
“And I actually feel very strongly about it. The fact that we are not uniform truly defines us, and this holds true for our food culture as well,” Shankar says.
While the country may have been subjected to several conquests in the past, she feels none of them completely flattened the way of life here but surely adopted several cultural aspects of this land. Citing the examples of Mughals, who introduced spices in their food after meeting local food here, and developed many new recipes she adds, “By the way, it is Muglai food that is known as Indian food abroad. It is incorrect to talk about the notion of food without taking into account the way it incorporates so many different meanings and makes it is own — that is where the taste comes from.”
Looking at different identities created by food as mosaics and examining diverse mosaics, the author also looks at food through different religions. “While Muslims used Unnani and Hindus, Ayurvedic principles, in the past, before modern medicine took over, there was also a holistic way of what to eat. The cooking style was about balance. While having a mango drink, you needed to balance it with something else, or no fish in the rainy season, etc. It is also about how it impacts many things on our personalities and the way we return to our childhood foods. You keep returning to comfort food but also experiment. And let us not forget, in the past, food was a major marker of one’s identity — caste, religion, and hierarchy. The Brahmins would not eat non-vegetarian, while Kshatriyas and others would.”