From Publishers Weekly
Skillfully moving backward and forward in time, Banerji, a culinary historian based in the U.S. whose previous books have explored the cookery of her native Bengal (Life and Food in Bengal), regards India with the intimacy of a native, the curiosity of an outsider and the broad vantage of an expatriate. In the course of her culinary tours across the subcontinent, she poses compelling questions about the nature of authenticity in a time of great flux, the mutability of tradition and the place of food in secular life and religious culture. For answers, she looks not only to the past but to the present as it unfolds in roadside shacks, sweet shops or a temple canteen, describing how outside influences such as colonialism and immigration have shaped India's regional cuisines. Early in this engaging work, Banerji recounts how whenever she invites Americans to her home for an elaborate meal, rather than sampling each dish in sequence—the better to appreciate its subtle flavors—her guests heap together meat, rice and vegetables on one plate. The decision to allow appetite and intellectual curiosity to determine her course could easily have resulted in a similar mishmash. It is to the author's credit that her journeys to Benares, Gujarat and points south retain their unique flavors.
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"Award-winning food writer Banerji examines in marvelous detail the cultural and historical influences that have shaped regional cuisine in ancient and modern India...Readers will savor the author's mouthwatering prose...After reading this engaging work, one will appreciate the complexities and subtleties of Indian cuisine."-Library Journal
“This book is a fascinating tour through the culinary and cultural landscape of India, with mouthwatering descriptions of local delicacies and brief historical side-tours that provide context and background for the reader.”—Jewish Advocate, 6/22/07
"Chitrita Banerji is one of those rare writers who can tease the meaning out of ordinary foods without ever seeming trivial, pretentious or self-indulgent...Banerji peels back the husk of triviality to reveal the history, culture, and emotional ballast that can reside in even the most everyday dish...Even if you only have a passing interest in India, this book is worth a read."—Gourmet’s Choptalk
“Highly recommend this newly-published book for literate and engaging writing on travel in India and Indian food in various parts of the country. Must-read for Indian food fans”—Chowhound.com
"[Banerji is] a wonderful food writer. Neither a travelogue nor a recipe book, this is a personal jouney to more than a dozen regions in India... This is food writing at its best, historically and culinarily informative... and filled with the interestingly personal.... The stuff of interesting dining, thinking, and reading." -- Gastronomica