The first is that there was a deep assumption in Hindu thought that local

The first is that there was a deep assumption in

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The first is that there was a deep assumption in Hindu thought that local variation in custom (dcdra) must be respected by those in power, and that royal duty consists in protecting such variation unless it violates social and cosmic law (dharma). When, in addi- tion, we bear in mind that the producers, distributors, and guardians of the major textual traditions, the Brahmans, did not particularly care (from a religious point of view) about the culinary or gastronomic side of food, we can begin to see why a poorly developed culinary textual traditionin pre- modem Hindu India and the nonemergence of a Hindu culinary standard for all of India might be related phenomena. What little we do know of the Hindu science of cooking-pdka sdstra-(see Prakash 1961) suggests thatthe cook- book tradition, both in Sanskrit and in the vernacular, was informal,fragmen- tary, and minor. Whetherthis is the result of a small number of texts or of indifferent preservation and transmission, the impression of a minor genre is unmistakable. Like other humble traditions that do not enter the ambit of high Hindu thought, Hindu culinary traditions stayed oral in their mode of transmission, domestic in their locus, and regional in their scope. This does not, of course, mean that they were static, insulated from one another, or immune to changes in method or in raw materials. What it does mean is that there was no powerful impetus toward the evolution of a pan-Indian Hindu cuisine. The regional cuisines each had their festive foods, their royal elaborations, and their luxury dishes interacting with plainer, peasant diets keyed to ecological and seasonal factors (Breckenridge 1986). Though it is hard to tell much in This content downloaded by the authorized user from on Wed, 14 Nov 2012 02:34:26 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
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NATIONAL CUISINE: COOKBOOKS IN INDIA 13 retrospect about how this interaction worked, it is plain that, as regards cuisine, traditional Hindu India was thoroughly Balkanized. With the arrivalof the Mughals in India in the first half of the sixteenth century, the textualization of culinary practice took a significantstep forward. The famous Mughal administrative manual, the Ain-I-Akbari, contains a re- cipe section, though the text as a whole is devoted to various aspects of statecraft. It is very likely that the culinary traditions of the princely houses of early modem North India were influenced by the practices of the Mughal court. It is also probable that the current pan-Indian availability (particularly in restaurants) of what is called Mughlai cuisine is closely tied to the political spread of Mughal hegemony through most of the subcontinent. Mughlai cuisine is a royal cuisine that emerged from the interaction of the Turko-Afghan culinary traditions of the Mughal rulers with the peasant foods of the North Indian plains.
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