The Poetry of Curry, or, a Traveler’s Tale

For numerous reasons, lately I’ve been indulging in one of my passions – cooking the food of the Indian sub-continent. I just ran across again William Makepeace Thackeray’s “A Poem to Curry,” quoted by nearly everyone who takes a stab at writing about the mystery of curry, and how it traveled to the nooks and crannies…

Julie Sahni -Talk About Great Indian Food!

Like most of you (I hope), I have been cooking from Julie Sahni’s cookbooks for years.  I learned to feel utterly confident that Ms. Sahni’s recipes really work and come close to what people from India know about good food. One weekend my husband’s office held a pot-luck at a colleague’s house. Feeling assured that…

To India, via Paris’s Le Passage Brady

In spite of French presence in India for a couple of centuries, trying to find Indian curry in France tends to be a bit of a chore. The first Indian restaurant didn’t open in Paris until 1975. Those in the know (mostly British expatriates pining for curry in London) lament the lack of good Indian food,…

East is East and West is West: Pondicherry and French Curry

In Pondicherry, Pondichéry, or Puducherry as it is now called again (since 2006), you still see streets sparkling with old colonial buildings, dating back to a time when passersby heard French spoken daily. Yet, those buildings, policemen’s hats, and a fully functioning French lycée or school, are among the few overt signs that you’ll notice…

Idylls of Cuisine, #74

[A photograph, and nothing more, for silent contemplation. See also “India Asks, Should Food be a Right for the Poor?”]

The British Melting Pot

I recently ran across these books, mentioned on an interesting British Web site providing glimpses and glances at cookbooks published in Britain, cookbooks that we here in the US of A rarely see. Maybe it’s my imagination, but it seems that the British cookbook market features more books concerned with other cultures and not so…

To Balance, Strength, Love, Faith, and Hope:* Jehangir Mehta’s Mantra

Reflecting the ayurvedic principle of balance, chef Jehangir Mehta’s cookbook, Mantra: The Rules of Indulgence (2008), carries the imaginative use of flavorings to nirvanaic levels. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Indian-born Mehta draws on the centuries-old practices found in Indian cuisine and combines them in startling ways with many traditional Western, and…

“Curry & Rice” on Forty Plates: The British Raj Encore

In 1859, George Francklin Atkinson, a captain of the Bengal Engineers and a writer of some imagination as well as artistic skill, published “Curry & Rice” on Forty Plates: or the Ingredients of Social Life at “Our Station” in India. Illustrated with forty drawings, or the “plates” in question, Atkinson’s fictitious account of life in…