CHS Seminar: Everyday Cooking and the Emergent Nation Hindi Recipe Books, 1900-40

Everyday Cooking and the Emergent Nation Hindi Recipe Books, 1900-40

Abstract: The evolution of food into cuisine is intimately associated with questions of identity and nationhood. Identities often process and re-imagine their own pasts in relation to their present, and food is a common medium through which such re-imaginings and reinterpretations are effected. This paper interrogates a few Hindi recipe books from the first half of the twentieth century to see how they define the kitchen and the culinary world of urban middle-class Hindu family, and goes on to interrogate questions of community, identity, nation and its boundaries of edibility. The paper argues that these Hindi recipe books contributed to the residual ground - especially in relation to the intimate, the everyday and the comestible - that potentially fed into an exclusivist idea of the emergent nation in the early twentieth century.

About the speaker: Dr. Saumya Gupta teaches History at Janki Devi Memorial College, University of Delhi. Her research focuses on urban social history, Partition studies, and north Indian foodways. She has worked on A Social History of a Colonial Town: Kanpur, c.1850-1950 for her PhD thesis with Prof. Shahid Amin, University of Delhi. She has co-authored a book The Timechart History of India, (Robert Frederick London, 2005), and has published articles on Partition and its news-coverage in English and Hindi.