There has certainly been a seismic change in recent writing on food, as Lizzie Collingham's Curry: The Biography
divertingly proves. The subject here is nothing less than the history of India and its rulers, as told through the history of their signature food. Of course, the national food of India is now (by default) one of the national foods of the United Kingdom, and its all-conquering progress from the gilded palaces of Delhi to the curry houses of Brick Lane and Birmingham makes for highly entertaining reading.
We have had many cookery books before on how to prepare the mouth-watering Indian delights described here, but few have taken such a broad view as Collingham, who (while telling us how to prepare Dhansak or Lamb Korma), also apprises the reader of the individuals who discovered, cooked and presented these dishes originally (along with the lucky recipients, often in the upper echelons of Indian society).
In many ways, the rich host of anecdotes here is the single factor that distinguishes the book from so many similar titles. Collingham is a historian of some reputation, but her love of this food fairly leaps from the page. Be warned, however: you may begin this book in a spirit of historical curiosity, but by the end of it, you'll either be making your way to the local curry house, or to the nearest supermarket to stock up on turmeric, coriander and mango chutney. --Barry Forshaw
'This is a sensuous subject, and Collingwood gives it a sensuous treatment' -- Bill Saunders, Independent on Sunday
'richly researched read...More that just the story of a dish, this engaging book provides a sidelong history of India' -- John Koski, Mail on Sunday
marvellous and well-illustrated
based on exhaustive research and full of intriguing nuggets of information -- Chandak Sengoopta, Independent