Rana Safvi’s Digital Dastarkhwan

The past few days have been glorious. I illustrated some delectable recipes from the incredibly insightful and perceptive Rana Safvi. Rana, as you already know, is an author and historian with a passion for culture and heritage. She is the founder and moderator of the popular #shair platform on Twitter which is credited for reviving…

Sadia Dehlvi’s Delhi in “Jasmine & Jinns” is Delightful and Inviting

The title of Sadia Dehlvi’s latest book ‘Jasmine and Jinns’, brings to mind images from fantasies like Tilism-e-Hoshruba and Alif-Laila. And why not! Within its 200+ pages, Sadia Dehlvi reminisces about her childhood, punctiliously preserved in photographs and mostly recollections of people, of whom only some remain. She introduces characters like Apa Saeeda, Amma, Mamoo…

Olea Europaea : The European Olive

One of the oldest trees to be cultivated; at least 6000 years ago, the olive is a fruit that is popular worldwide and is also revered in most Mediterranean cultures.  By 3,000 BC, it was being grown in Crete and spread to Southern Europe and Africa through the Phoenicians; spread along the fertile crescent which includes some…

Bread and Salt

Bread, called nan in Persian, is the staple food of Iran in all regions except around the Caspian, where rice supplants it. Nan is a Persian word first used in Achaemenid Iran (550-330 BCE), from which all other languages borrowed it. In Iran, bread and salt are treated with great respect. The main Persian breads are flat breads but…

Persian Tea

Tea was discovered about 5000 years ago in China. In the early 17th century, tea was introduced to England and its Chinese name, tay, changed to the English name tea. In England, tea was brewed in china teapots. The English believed that a drop of milk in the teapot would prevent it from breaking and thus…

Armenian Sweet Bread (Nan-e gisu)

Makes 3 loaves Preparation time: 20 minutes plus rising time overnight Cooking time: 35-40 minutes INGREDIENTS 1 package or 1 tablespoon dry yeast 1/4th cup warm water 3 eggs 1.5 cups sugar 1 tablespoon honey 2 tsp ground mahlab 1 cup whole milk 1 cup melted, unsalted butter or Oil 4.5-5.5 cups cake flour, sifted with…

An Omelette is Born

In 1835, during the Carlist uprising in Spain, the rebels laid seige to Bilbao. One day during the siege, the Carlist commander, General Tomas de Zumalacarregui y de Imaz, was passing a farmhouse and demanded that the farmer’s wife prepare him something to eat. All the woman had were some eggs, a potato and an…

The confused discovery of chilli. Or was it?

  The United Salad of America By Act of Congress, the phrase E pluribus unum (Latin for ‘out of many, one’) was adopted as one of the mottos on the seal of the infant USA. The phrase derives from one used in ‘Moretum’, a Latin poem attributed to Virgil (70-19 BC): It manus in gyrum;…

The World’s Most Expensive Salad

  Heinz Tomato Ketchup : 57 varieties. Not really. While riding in an elevated train in New York, H.J.Heinz was struck by a shoe shop sign declaring that it offered ’21 styles’. He was thus inspired to come up with the slogan ’57 varieties’ for his own company – even though at that stage it…

Once upon a potato…

Food history is SO much fun! I love reading about eating habits of people in the past or even things like how people considered certain things like potatoes and tomatoes poisonous and hence, inedible at some point. There are tons of food history books and there are some I recommend which you can see at the…