I was in a narrow kitchen in Mumbai, one of the brightest modern cities in India, watching how ancient Indian food is cooked on the vessels of burnt clay. Throughout the kitchen scattered dishes of leaves, wood and metal. The food was cooked using only the ingredients that came from the sub-continent, which meant that there was no clarity of chili (originally from Mexico) and potatoes (imported from South America).
“No cabbage, no cauliflower, no head, no carrots,” said Kasturirangan Ramanujam, one of the chefs who cooked. But this will not prevent him from making a sophisticated feast for my family, which includes rice, raspy-like saprate, rich in soup jam sauce and an amazing set of vegetables and snacks.
This is a shraadha, which is eaten by many Hindu families in southern India for the death of close family members – in this case – the anniversary of my father-in-law. Although it is believed that the holiday is a choice of ancestors of the livelihood, it has inadvertently created a living memory of the region’s culinary history, since it is made entirely of recipes and ingredients that existed in the subcontinent for at least a millennium.