12 May, 2021

The Idea Of ‘Indian Food’ Has Always Been A Khichdi

The nuts and bolts of ‘culinary Indianness’ are a bit loose, all floating in a borderless ma­­­rinade

Aroma Of India
Tunday Kebabi in Lucknow
Photograph by Nirala Tripathi
The Idea Of ‘Indian Food’ Has Always Been A Khichdi

‘Do you know what kapura are?’ ‘Of course, I do,’ I answered with some affront. ‘They are sweetbreads, and they are cooked with kidneys, and they are very good.’ Natives should always be natives…and I felt irked to be so probed around the issue of my own nativity. But Tillat’s face was kindly with superior knowledge. ‘Not sweetbread,’ she gently said, ‘They’re testicles, that’s what kapura really are.’” And with that o(w)ffal disclosure, says Sara Suleri in her memoir, Meatless Days, “…something that had once sat quite simply inside its own definition was declaring independence from its name and nature, claiming a perplexity I didn’t like.”

As far as analogies (and puns) go, this might be a bit nuts. But after about a week of prodding the words ‘Indian’ and ‘food’ from every direction—together and in isolation—I find myself in a Sara Suleri soup-shorba. No thanks to a spell of intense nationalist...

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