The kitchen is often the heart of South Asian homes. Muslim South Asian kitchens, in particular, are the engines of an entire culture. The alchemy that takes place within them affects nations and economies, politics and history, and of course human relationships. There is proof of it in Desi Delicacies, Claire Chambers’ anthology of essays, stories and recipes supplied by some of the region’s most well-loved writers, historians and chefs.
An unexpected revelation awaits Nadeem Aslam in a London restaurant as he yearns for a special delicacy from Pakistan. Rana Safvi recounts the history of Awadhi cooking and the origins of qorma, while Sadaf Hussain tells us how the samosa came to be paired with chai and of his own newly found love for the beverage. Tabish Khair examines our attitudes towards food that is ‘jootha’. Death comes with an aftertaste of taar roti for the protagonist of Tarana Husain Khan’s story set in Rampur. Gulla puts his heart into making the perfect nardoo yakhni but is taken aback by a hairy surprise in Asiya Zahoor’s ‘The Hairy Curry’.
A multitude of flavours blend with love, joy, grief, regret and nostalgia in this book which is not only a beautiful collection of food writing, but also a rich helping of the histories and cultures of Muslim South Asia and its diasporas.
With a Foreword by Bina Shah and an Afterword by Siobhan Lambert-Hurley
The cover image is a painting from the Nimatnama, a collection of recipes partly compiled during the reign of the moustachioed Sultan Ghiyas-ud-din of the Delhi Sultanate, who features on the cover.