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Food of medieval India. Recipes.

 

NOTE: See also the files: India-lnks, Moghul-India-msg, spices-msg, Islam-msg, gums-resins-msg, p-spice-trade-msg, dairy-prod-msg, dates-msg, coconuts-msg.

 

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NOTICE -

 

This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.

 

This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org

 

I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.

 

The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.

 

Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).

 

Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org

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Date: Wed, 28 Jan 2009 18:05:27 -0500

From: Johnna Holloway <johnnae at mac.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Ancient India

To: mirhaxa at morktorn.com, Cooks within the SCA

      <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

 

You might take a look here for an overview of Indian cookery and foods.

/Food Culture in India/ by Colleen Taylor Sen.

http://www.greenwood.com/catalog/GR2487.aspx

It includes a Timeline of Indian Food History and  Historical Overview

and Attitudes Toward Food.

 

Johnnae

 

Linda Peterson wrote:

<<< I got a question from someone and thought I'd throw it out to the

list. What would be typical available foodstuffs of India at the time

of Buddha, ~500BCE?

    Mirhaxa >>>

 

 

Date: Wed, 28 Jan 2009 19:11:48 -0500

From: "Jim and Andi Houston" <jimandandi at cox.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Ancient India

To: <mirhaxa at morktorn.com>,      "'Cooks within the SCA'"

      <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

 

The timeline in Colleen Sen's book is accurate but oversimplified, because

it doesn't differentiate between the regions of India. India is very large

and only became a single country in the last 50 years. There are major

linguistic, cultural and religious differences between North, South, East,

West and Central regions of India.

 

There are some really excellent books available in English about historical

Indian cooking- anything by KT Achaya, Food and Drinks in Ancient India by

Om Prakash, and various translated manuscripts.

 

Madhavi

 

 

Date: Wed, 28 Jan 2009 19:42:54 -0500

From: "Jim and Andi Houston" <jimandandi at cox.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Ancient India

To: <mirhaxa at morktorn.com>,      "'Cooks within the SCA'"

      <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

 

Foods written about in the Buddhist Pitakas (5th century BC):

 

Barley, many different kinds and colors of rice, some wheat in the north,

millet in the south, many native pulses including chickpeas

 

Hindus and Buddhists were still eating meat, including cows in some places,

the concept of ahimsa does not take root until 800 years later.

 

Spices include asafetida, mustard seed, ginger, camphor and nutmeg

 

Fruits included coconut, jackfruit, palm, grapes, phalsa, and several kinds

of citrus

 

The Buddha himself wrote in the Lankavatara Sutra: "I enjoin the taking of

food made out of rice, barley, wheat, mudga, masha, masura and other grains,

ghee, oil of sesamum, honey, molasses, sugar, fish, eggs and others, which

are full of soul qualities but devoid of faults; they were consumed by the

rishis of yore."

 

Madhavi

 

-----Original Message-----

I got a question from someone and thought I'd throw it out to the list.

What would be typical available foodstuffs of India at the time of Buddha,

~500BCE?

     Mirhaxa

   mirhaxa at morktorn.com

 

 

Date: Thu, 29 Jan 2009 08:11:47 -0500

From: Johnna Holloway <johnnae at mac.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Ancient India

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

 

I actually own Om Prakash

Food and Drinks in Ancient India from Earliest Times to c. 1200 A.D.

I managed to buy a copy about 5 years ago. I checked and prices for the

1961 edition are about $70 now which is about three times higher than they were then. I think I paid $20ish.

 

Another of his books is more reasonably priced and it's a two volume set

for less than $25--

Economy and Food in Ancient India.

The description says that volume 2 contains

*I. Geographical And Cultural Background; II. Prehistoric and

Protohistoric Age; Food and Drinks; III. (c 1500-1800 B.C. ) Vedic

Period; Iv. (c800-300 B.C. ): Section I: Sutra Period; SEction 2. Early

Buddhist and Jain Works; V. (c. 300 BC and 75 A.d. ): Section I; maurya

and Sunga Period; Section 2. The Epics and the Manusmrti; VI. (c 75 Ad.

-300 AD): The Kusana and Saka Satavahana Period; VII. (c 300-750 AD):

Gupta Period; VIII. (c. 750-1200 AD): post gupta period;

 

That might provide everything the reader wants. The drawback is that it

has to be ordered from India or found on interlibrary loan.

-------

KT Achaya's Indian Food: a Historical Companion is running around $70

now too.Some stores are listing it as well over $120 for the hardback.

Check around because used copies of the paperback are running around $50

on Amazon this am.

 

His The Illustrated Foods of India is due

out in the UK in April 2009. Amazon here in the US says April too so

that may be available here sometime later this year.

  A Historical Dictionary of Indian Food by Achaya is listed at

  Amazon, right now however. It's $35 but they don't have copies in

stock. You'll have to place an order and wait.

 

----

I mentioned Colleen Sen's book because you are more likely to find that volume in an undergraduate or public library at the moment or find it available for interlibrary loan. And there is a bibliography.

We just watched Michael Wood's India on PBS so perhaps there will be

more of a demand for things Indian this year.

 

Johnnae

 

Jim and Andi Houston wrote:

The timeline in Colleen Sen's book is accurate but oversimplified, because

it doesn't differentiate between the regions of India. India is very large

and only became a single country in the last 50 years. There are major

linguistic, cultural and religious differences between North, South, East,

West and Central regions of India.

There are some really excellent books available in English about historical

Indian cooking- anything by KT Achaya, Food and Drinks in Ancient India by

Om Prakash, and various translated manuscripts.

 

Madhavi

 

 

Date: Mon, 7 Dec 2009 21:05:16 -0500

From: "Jim and Andi" <jimandandi at cox.net>

To: "'Cooks within the SCA'" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Cc: maysun at maddcow.com

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Medieval Indian cooking

 

With respect:

 

With respect to Cariadoc, the Nimatnama is not Mughal. The Nimatnama was

written in Mandu, which is in the modern state of Madya Pradesh, by the

last emperor of the Khalji dynasty 30 years before the Mughals invaded.

The Nimatnama is true fusion cuisine from a Muslim Turkic culture which

had been blending with the predominant Hindu culture for almost two

hundred years, as the first Khaljis conquered central India in the

1300s. The food is quite different from the food of the early Mughals.

 

Selewine, if you are interested in the Byzantine-era cuisines of India,

there are sources available; scant descriptions of feasts, some medical

texts, a few individual dishes. There are other translated Indian

cooking manuscripts but they are much later, such as the Manasollasa.

 

Medieval Indian food is quite exotic. The cooking methods and spicing is

extremely foreign to the average American palate. This could be a

fascinating challenge if you have the time and energy for the research

and recipe testing. Even modern Indian food is difficult to cook well;

though serving modern Indian food at a feast is no different than

serving Kentucky Fried Chicken. It's just as "medieval".

 

Unless you are able to devote a great deal of time to researching and

testing recipes in the few short weeks before your feast, I would urge

you to explore the foods of Byzantine or Roman cuisine instead, which

are better-documented and more approachable to the modern diner.

 

However, if you are interested, please feel free to contact me. I would

be happy to share my bibliography.

 

Madhavi

An Crosaire, Trimaris

 

 

Date: Tue, 8 Dec 2009 17:54:02 -0500

From: "Jim and Andi" <jimandandi at cox.net>

To: "'Cooks within the SCA'" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Medieval Indian cooking

 

What sources other than the _Ain i Akbari_ do we have for the food of

the early Mughals?

--

David/Cariadoc

www.daviddfriedman.com

------------

 

If you have not checked out the Nimatnama, I would sincerely urge you to

do so. It's a completely jaw-dropping parade of decadence, a list of

royal dishes cooked in a very, very wealthy court.

 

I have cooked several dishes from this manuscript for household dinners

and A&S competitions, and I am cooking a feast from it in September.

 

Sources that are translated and easily available? Not many other than

the Ain-i-Akbari. There are a few mentions of food in the Babur-nama and

one scant feast description in the Humayun-nama, written by Gulbadan

Begum. Those quotes are mostly referenced in A Historical Dictionary of

Indian Food by KT Achaya. There are several traveler memoirs referenced

in Food and Drinks in Mughal India by Satya Prakash Sangar, but that's a

difficult book to use, since the author lumps all of the Mughal period

together, and only the first 75 years fall within our period.

 

Madhavi

 

 

Date: Wed, 9 Dec 2009 21:28:54 -0500

From: "Jim and Andi" <jimandandi at cox.net>

To: "'Cooks within the SCA'" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Medieval Indian cooking

 

I apologize, Huette, for not communicating clearly enough. I will

happily attempt to clear up any confusion between my "rant" and the

reply to Cariadoc's question.

 

The Nimatnama is most certainly not Mughal, which you, as someone who

has obviously read the manuscript yourself, of course already knew. The

first two paragraphs of that email are merely urging Cariadoc to take a

look at the book because I think he would be interested.

 

The third paragraph is about other early Mughal resources. I thought I

had notified the reader to the change of subject by reiterating

Cariadoc's question about other sources.

 

I am quite surprised that you had never come across pre-1600

descriptions for samosas before reading the Nimatnama, there are two

samosa recipes in the Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook, one in the Baghdad

Cookery Book, and another in the Description of Familiar Foods.

 

Madhavi

 

-----Original Message-----

I am sorry, Madhavi, but you have me very confused.  When several people

mentioned the Ni'matnama as Mughal, you went into a rant about how the

manuscript and the people of Mandu were not Mughal.

 

When Cariadoc just asked what other _Mughal_ cookbooks there were other

than the Ain I Akbari, because your rant seemed to indicate that there

were more within period sources, you now have recommended the Ni'matnama

as being a good source for _Mughal_ recipes.  I am sorry, but you cannot

have it both ways.  Either it is Mughal or it is not.  Make up your

mind.  In case you can't remember what you have said, I have included

his Grace's question and your response to him down below.

 

I have used the Ni'matnama several times for various SCA lunches and

banquets.  I was so happy to find that samosas were period and without

the ubiquitous capsicum peppers.  Here is a prime example of a food name

that continues for five+ centuries and changes as the people and their

tastes change.  The same goes for vindaloo from Goa.  It starts out as a

Portuguese pork dish made with garlic and vinegar called Vindalho and

with the introduction of capsicums to India becomes now the extremely

hot pork and peppers dish.  One could serve the dish called Vindalho at

an SCA banquet because it can be traced back to Portugal pre-1600

[according to Madhur Jaffrey] but not Vindaloo.

 

Huette

 

 

Date: Fri, 5 Feb 2010 13:45:52 -0800

From: David Friedman <ddfr at daviddfriedman.com>

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] A not-Mughal Indian recipe

 

At our recent cooking workshop, I tried two of the simpler Nimatnama

recipes. One was all right but pretty dull, but the other I thought

was quite good. Here's the original and my version (second try):

 

[Nimatnama p. 15] Another recipe, for qaliya rice: put ghee into a

cooking pot and when it has become hot, flavour it with asafoetida

and garlic.  When it has become well flavored, put the meat, mixed

with chopped potherbs, into the ghee. When it has become marinated

[!mistranslation!], add water and add, to an equal amount, one sir of

cow's milk. When it has come to the boil, add the washed rice. When

it is well cooked, take it off. Cook other rice by the same recipe

and, likewise, do not make it with cow's milk but put in four sirs of

garlic and whole peppers, and serve it.

 

Ghee 1/2 c

Asafoetida 1/8 t

Garlic 3 cloves

Salt 1/2 t

Meat 1 1/4 lb lamb

Potherbs 13 oz spinach

Whole milk 1 1/4 c

Water 1 1/4 c

Rice 1 1/2  c

 

Slice garlic, melt ghee, add asafoetida, fry garlic in ghee about 20 minutes.

Add meat and spinach, fry about ten minutes.

Add milk and water, bring to a boil. Add washed rice, cook about 25

minutes, let sit five minutes, serve.

 

The only deliberate change was adding salt, which it seemed to need,

judging by the first try. At least one period cookbook explicitly

says that it doesn't mention salt because cooks know to add it, so I

thought that was a plausible interpretation here.

 

According to the Nimatnama translation, 1 sir = 2.5 lbs troy, but I

do not believe that the variant which I didn't make replaces 2.5 lbs

of milk with ten pounds of garlic and whole peppers. My suspicion is

that either the "four" or the "sirs" is a scribal error or

misreading. The interpretation of "sir" isn't very relevant to my

version, since the milk is the only thing for which a quantity is

given.

 

It does imply, if correct, that the original recipe is intended to

make about twice the quantity of mine. That might be useful in making

sense of other recipe from the same source.

--

David/Cariadoc

www.daviddfriedman.com

 

 

Date: Sat, 6 Feb 2010 0:11:21 -0500

From: <jimandandi at cox.net>

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Another not-Mughal Indian recipe

 

Sakhran- Nimatnama, p.93

 

Now the method for making sakhran has been written: take good mast, put ground potherbs into it, and strain it through a cloth. Add camphor, musk, cardamom, cloves and rosewater and prepare it with the perfume of flowers. When the flower perfume has been absorbed, throw away the flowers. Then cut up sections of the fruit of bananas very small and put them into it. Put the pulp of twelve bananas into the mast.

 

My redaction:

4 cups plain, full-fat yogurt (do not use low fat yogurt of any variety, only "cream top")

2 cups fresh spinach

8-10 fresh mint leaves

1/4 c fresh dill

8 fresh curry leaves

a few leaves of fresh sorrel

6 bruised cardamom pods

4 whole cloves, bruised

1/4 tsp edible musk

1/4 tsp ground edible camphor

1/4 tsp. rosewater

2 firm yellow bananas

 

Beat yogurt well. Take all fresh herbs and mince finely. Place potherbs in mortar and pound until it becomes a thick homogeneous paste. Add herb paste to yogurt and mix thoroughly. Line a large bowl with a piece of cheesecloth folded over several times or any kind of fine cloth. Dump yogurt and potherb mixture into cloth. Quickly gather the corners and edges and tie with a string. Hang the cloth over the sink for 3-4 hours.

 

Take the yogurt down and dump into a bowl Add all spices and beat thoroughly. Chill mixture. Just before serving, add chopped banana and stir in, and add salt to taste.

 

This is a surprisingly delicious relish, similar to a modern raita. I have never tried soaking flowers in the mixture to imbue it with their essence, as the flowers I know they would have used for this purpose I have not been able to find here.

 

*winking at Cariadoc*

 

Madhavi

 

 

Date: Mon, 28 Jun 2010 12:28:01 -0700

From: David Friedman <ddfr at daviddfriedman.com>

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] A Feast in Shadiabad (Trimaris 25th Year

        Sunday Feast)

 

<<< Menu and a whole lot more information. Enjoy.

http://madhavifeast.wordpress.com/

 

Madhavi >>>

 

It sounds impressive.

 

I couldn't readily tell from the site whether all of the recipes are

from the Nimatnama, or a mix of those and modern Indian recipes that

could be period. If the former, you, or someone, has done a lot of

work. I've done a few Nimatnama recipes, but only a few.

--

David/Cariadoc

www.daviddfriedman.com

 

<the end>



Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org