While heritage foods still abound in the streets and kitchens of South Asia, it may just be a matter of time before many of these historic dishes and culinary traditions, especially of Muslim provenance, pass into oblivion. In Forgotten Foods, historians, literary scholars, plant scientists, heritage practitioners, writers and chefs come together to document precious stories and memories, histories and recipes in a valiant endeavour to stem this lamentable tide.
Introducing us to the legendary poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s modest, homely tastes, his daughter Moneeza Hashmi draws our attention to dishes that continue to cut across the seemingly impermeable India–Pakistan border. In Sri Lanka, Rizvina Morseth de Alwis finds comfort in the ‘strange’ recipes of her country’s Malay cuisine. A lost kitchen cabinet in Bhopal holds the secret behind the tenderest shami kababs. A journey through the rich foodscape of Manipur’s Pangal community depicts its close ties to the dietary traditions of marginalised groups. Tarana Husain Khan visits Rampur’s paddy fields on a quest for heritage rice varieties, even as we experience the sweeter side of Hyderabad’s cuisine generally notorious for its heat. A cornucopia of other essays familiarise us with uncommon items such as Kerala’s jeeraga kanhi, Kashmir’s saada saag and the delicate murgh qorma of Awadh.
The culinary diversity showcased in Forgotten Foods not only comes as a delightful surprise, it also proves just how profoundly Muslim kitchens have reshaped alimentary practices, enriching South Asian food and making it what it is today.