From Royal Cuisine to Simple Daily Fare
Sakshi Dogra
DEGH TO DASTARKHWAN: QISSAS AND RECIPES FROM RAMPUR by Tarana Husain Khan Penguin/Random House, 2022, 272 pp., ₹ 399.00
March 2023, volume 47, No 3

That the faculty of taste is fundamental to meaning making practices is now a commonplace idea. For instance, some food items make us salivate in desire, the consumption of which brings pleasure. On the other hand, we turn away from food that disgusts us, often refusing to ingest it. However, desire and disgust are only some of the feelings that arise upon an engagement with food. In Tarana Husain Khan’s book, Degh to Dastarkhwan: Qissas and Recipes from Rampur, food is often entangled with feelings of forgiveness, love, piety, grief, comfort and sweetness. Khan narrativizes the relationship between these emotions and food in order to paint for her readers a nuanced picture of Rampuri cuisine and cultural history.

Chapter titles such as ‘Pulao and Mourning’, ‘Kababs and Forgiving’, ‘Gulathhi and First Love’, ‘Muharram and Grieving’ and ‘The Intricacies of Forgotten Sweetness’ gesture to the intertwining of feelings with flavours. All the chapters begin with anecdotes which detail how a dish became knotted with the lived reality of the people of Rampur. For instance, in the chapter titled ‘Gulathhi and First Love’, Khan narrates the story of a young couple from Rampur who eloped, much to the chagrin of their respective families.

Continue reading this review