Tarana Husain Khan et al., "Forgotten Foods: Memories and Recipes from Muslim South Asia" (Pan Macmillan, 2023)


Forgotten Foods: Memories and Recipes from Muslim South Asia (Pan Macmillan India, 2023) is a collection of essays and recipes that highlights the complex and layered food history of Muslim communities across South Asia. The contributors to the volume include historians, literary scholars, plant scientists, writers, chefs, and more. And their range of essays take us from Ladakh in the north to Sri Lanka in the south, as we learn how food has not been fixed but rather has traveled, survived, and transformed with its peoples. The memories of foods captured here, be it biryanis, pulaos, khicheris, prawn curries, dhal, kanhi (or khanji), and halwa, just to name a few, unsettle gender, class, economic, and caste boundaries, and welcome us to plunge into the delicious food practices of diverse Muslim communities be they Indians, Pakistanis, Rampuris, Kashmiris, Mappila, and Tamils. 

The collection also critically highlights how food has been weaponized and politicized (as we see with Muslims eating beef in India today) while also being invoked in discourses of authenticity, especially as food practices and memories travel with those who are displaced into the diaspora, such as amongst Kashmiri Muslims. Food here is then used as an incisive analytical tool to complicate histories and contemporary experiences of Muslims in South Asia. This stunning archive of Muslim food memories and its accompanying delicious recipes will be of interest to so many communities of listeners, from academics of Islam in South Asia, food bloggers, foodies on social media, chefs, and more.

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Shobhana Xavier

Shobhana Xavier is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Queen’s University. More details about her research and scholarship may be found here. She may be reached at shobhana.xavier@queensu.ca. You can follow her on Twitter via @shobhanaxavier.

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