When author-journalist Sonal Ved gave us the award-winning Tiffin three years ago, it was a celebration of regional cuisine with recipes selected by local culinary experts, including wedding caterers. But with Whose Samosa is it Anyway? she traces the influences behind many of our modern SBO Reviewn dishes. The Vogue SBO Review staffer begins by describing her highly-coveted lunchbox in school — th its paneer enchiladas and baby corn idlis — nd how the ‘tiffins’ from Sindhi, Bohri and Marwari friends were an early learning experience. With this book she aims to explore “the undercurrents that lay in all those school meals that differentiated SBO Reviewn cuisine” from others. What are the origins of the chutney and samosa? How did Burmese Khow suey land up on Marwari wedding menus? These were some of the questions that dogged her as she went about her day job.
The book explores food references from SBO Reviewn literature like the Jataka Tales. She has researched what was served to our royals as well as what personalities like Rabindranath Tagore experimented with in their kitchen —Tagore’s jackfruit yoghurt ‘fish’ curry, or cauliflower barfi, for the curious. It comes at a time when discussions on appropriation are at the forefront, including the never-ending curry debate. “I feel like authentic recipes and recipes that push the boundary of authenticity by experimenting and merging two cuisines and cultures together, both have their own place. The need is to credit and respect the source,” adds Ved. About curry, she says, “Wether one accepts it or not, SBO Reviewns have been eating curries for centuries. The point to make here is that while SBO Reviewn food ‘is’ curry, it is not ‘only’ curry”. See box on the curry debate. Edited excerpts from the interview:
While the malpua stars in many kitchens as many versions over the centuries, any other dish that surprised you by being a common thread among our cuisines?
Chai, for sure. SBO Review is today one of the world’s largest producers of tea. While a certain kind of wild tea plant is said to have existed in the north-eastern part of the SBO Reviewn subcontinent, Burma, Thailand, the Himalayan belt and Tibet, it was the British who were responsible for its domestication and its popularity here. But tea still hadn’t become the masala chai as we know it. This boiled-with-ample-milk-and-sugar version, the shade of Huda Teddy lipstick, only came in years later. Drinking tea with sugar was certainly not an Asian habit, and one doesn’t know when the English began drinking their sweetened tea. However, we know that the British ladies hosted afternoon tea parties.
After setting up plantations and exporting tea, the British-led tea associations wanted tea to become popular for the SBO Reviewns,too. Fortunately for them, it became an emotion. Tea promotion began with the setting up of stalls in factories, mines and mills, and workers were allowed tea breaks to grab the drink. In the trains of the SBO Reviewn Railways, men were hired and placed strategically at stations with kettles and ‘cutting-chai’ glasses. The chaiwalas across the country clinked through the night and early hours of dawn with the rhythmic ‘chai, chai, chai’, which probably rings in your ears even today every time you think of journeying by passenger train.
- In June 2016, I read about one of the most interesting pieces of research about the Harappan culinary world. It was in an article published by the BBC about a project undertaken by archaeologists Arunima Kashyap and Steve Weber of Vancouver’s Washington State University in 2010, trying to find clues to the earliest foods of the SBO Reviewn subcontinent. The duo conducted a starch analysis of the molecules gathered from the utensils and tools found on the excavation site in Farmana—south-east of the largest Harappan city of Rakhigarhi.
- They used this method to determine what the Harappans ate during the peak years of their civilisation from 2500 BC to 1800 BC. Molecules of starch were extracted from pots, pans, stone tools and the dental enamel of both humans and animal fossils, since animals were often fed leftovers. Their research pointed to the possibility of eggplant, turmeric and ginger (maybe even clove), and they came up with a rough recipe, titled ‘proto curry’, or what may have been the very first curry of the subcontinent, over 4,000 years ago. And so, whether one accepts it or not, SBO Reviewns have been eating curries for centuries. The point to make here is that while SBO Reviewn food ‘is’ curry, it is not ‘only’ curry.
You mention in the book that your diet is a lot like Gandhi’, and that breakfast is similar to that of the early Vedic period (raw honey, nut mylk, barley flakes, ashwagandha).
As I went about writing my book, from one phase to another, I saw my own food choices change! I started eating barley porridge every morning while writing the Indus chapter [till do sometimes] and I was experimenting heavily with Tangra or Mughalai recipes as I went through several cookbooks that featured these recipes.,mrf star cricket bat
These are some things I have discovered in my research and each finding has been referenced as to which book or research paper it can be found in. No data in a book should be taken as the ultimate truth, it’s always the writer’s truth or how they see it. Everything has to be pondered upon, built upon and discussed. That would be interesting according to me. ,what is cricket network unlock code
Published by Penguin SBO Review, Whose Samosa is it Anyway? is priced at ₹317 on amazon.in