Saturday, February 19, 2011

A brief history of Chicken Tikka Masala

 A short version of this piece is featured in Desiliving

The succulent red creamy chicken with the perfect blend of spices and flavors – also called Chicken Tikka Masala, is my idea of food heaven. I can eat it any day, any time. This dish helps me in times of depression, when I miss India the most, because it ‘almost’ represents everything India is to me. Spicy, colorful, comforting and regal. That’s why I was mortified that the British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, had the audacity to declare ‘Chicken Tikka Masala’ as the new national dish of Great Britain. However, the more I read about it (thanks to my weird affliction of finding the history of everything we eat), I realized, that the most popular Indian dish in foreign restaurants might not be Indian after all!

To fathom the extraordinary fable of Chicken Tikka Masala, we should travel to 5000 years ago when tandoor clay ovens were invented. Locals were beginning to raise chickens at the same time and realized both made an awesome combination. But the small bite sized pieces which we now call ‘Tikka’ came into existence- thanks to the nitpicking of an emperor, Babur, the founder of the Mughal dynasty in South Asia was so sick (or afraid) of choking on the chicken bones, he ordered his Punjabi chefs to remove the bones before cooking the meat in the tandoor. The resulting delicacy was called – Joleh, Persian for Tikka.

Over the course of time, the recipe was improvised to include marinating the chicken in yogurt and spices. Chicken Tikka became a popular dish with all classes throughout the Mughal empire.

The tale gets puzzling from then on. We are not sure of what the status of Chicken Tikka was during the mutinies and the struggle for independence. It is understandable why nobody really bothered to chronicle what happened to Chicken Tikka while the country was fighting for freedom. During and after the independence movement, the British had exported a lot from their life in India – Curries, bungalows and of course the Kohinoor diamond. Somehow, the tandoor oven didn’t catch their fancy then, and Chicken Tikka just didn’t make the cut. But, in the 1950s there was a flood of immigration from the Indian subcontinent to UK and Indian restaurants mushroomed all over the country.

It is commonly believed that our ‘Chicken Tikka Masala’ originated in an Indian restaurants run by Bangladeshi chefs. According to folklore, (trust me, this is an authentic oral tale) a British gentleman sometime in the 1960s, decided his Chicken Tikka was too dry and demanded a better dish. The chef, either out of wild inspiration or final desperation tossed in a can of Campbell’s tomato soup, sprinkled some spices and added a dollop of yogurt to the dish. 450 years after Babur’s reign, this hybrid dish came into being in Glasgow and was christened Chicken Tikka Masala.

Some also argue that this is not the real story. They contend Chicken Tikka Masala originated in British India where its spicy  precedent was toned down to suit British palates.They also claim  that Butter Chicken was the first protoype of Chicken Tikka Masala. In her book Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors, Lizzie Collingham takes an excellent look at the history of Indian food. She has an entire chapter dedicated to Chicken Tikka Masala and writes, according to food critics, that it, “was not a shining example of British multiculturalism but a demonstration of the British facility for reducing all foreign foods to their most unappetizing and inedible forms”.

There are several claimants to the honor of having invented chicken tikka masala. The Ali family, owners of Shish Mahal restaurant in Glasgow are one among many. They claim they came up with the creamy, mildly spicy curry in the 1970s to please the Scots, but then it went on to become the most popular dish in British restaurants. But there are vehement rebuttals also- Zaeemuddin Ahmad, a chef at Delhi's Karim Hotel, which was established by the last chef of the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, said the recipe had been passed down through the generations in his family. (Ref:Times of India article-Scots lay claim to chicken tikka masala, Indians fume).

Another staggering claim is from the famed MotiMahal restaurent- According to their version-The tandoor, which boosted tikka sales, was introduced to the first Indian restaurant, Moti Mahal in New Delhi in 1948.  Lala Kundan Lal Gujral first set up in Peshawar in 1920 but came to Delhi in 1947 to set up Moti Mahal. He worked with a local man to produce the first restaurant version of the tandoor and invented tandoori spice mix for tandoori chicken -ground coriander seeds, black pepper and mild red pepper. Called Murg Makhani in Hindi, Butter Chicken originated in the 1950s at the Moti Mahal restaurant in Old Delhi. Famed for its Tandoori Chicken, the cooks there used to recycle the leftover chicken juices in the marinade trays by adding butter and tomato. This sauce was then tossed around with the tandoor-cooked chicken pieces and presto - Butter Chicken was ready! The leftover dish appealed to Delhites and was quickly lapped up by the rest of the world. Moti Mahal had very famous patrons ranging from nehru family to foreign national heads."Legend has it that when former Soviet premier Nikita Kruschev was asked what he liked about India, he replied, ''Taj Mahal and Moti Mahal''. When the Shah of Iran came on a state visit to India, the Indian Education Minister Maulana Azad told him that coming to Delhi without eating at Moti Mahal was like going to Agra and not seeing the Taj Mahal.An advertisement in a programme for the London Palladium promoting Cinderella starring Cliff Richard in 1966 by The Gaylord in Mortimer Street featured what was thought to be the first tandoor dishes in Britain. Mahendra Kaul, now involved with Chor Bizarre and Viceroy Brasserie in London, sent ‘the tandoor’ to USA for the World’s Fair a few years earlier before loaning it and his staff to an unamed restaurant of a friend in United Kingdom who was on hard times before installing it in The Gaylord. However, new information from archived documents at the famous Veeraswamy in London show the tandoor was in use at the restaurant as early as 1959, some ten years before it became widely know in Britain.Top restaurateur Amin Ali, owner of The Red Fort and Soho Spice in London’s Soho remembers serving CTM when he first arrived in London in 1974. A lowly waiter at the time he remembers wondering just what the dish was".(Ref: Is it or isnt it?-Chicken tikka story)

Regardless of its mysterious origins – Chicken Tikka Masala, enjoys its special place in the food kingdom. Today, there are more than 50 versions of this dish and the only common ingredient is but of course, chicken. Nearly, 15% of all curries sold in Britain is the Chicken Tikka Masala.Organisers of National Curry Week claim that if all the portions sold in one year in UK were stacked they would constitute a tikka tower 2770 times taller than the Greenwich Millennium Dome.

It is one dish I recommend to anyone who asks me about Indian food. I have never made it at home; but maybe its charm lies in indulging its richness in a restaurant, right where it was born.


1. Rasa Malaysia
2. Lizzie Collingham,Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors, Oxford University Press, 2006

Monday, July 19, 2010

Idli is not Indian..

 Source- Hubpages

First of all thank you all for the encouragement and support. For a real lazy bum like me, it means a lot and fuels my research and drive to write more. One of my friend even christened me with the term culinary anthropologist--I didnt even know such a term existed. But what the heck, it sounds all important. But yeah, Im not so vain to believe that I can be one just like that. Maybe some day--Sigh!. Many of you were asking where is the next post. I actually had this one almost ready for sometime now. But was waiting for an amazing resource book which I had ordered through Amazon. Its by this amazing food historian (probably the only one India has ever seen) K T Achaya. He actually inspired me to go beyond the trivias of our foods. So this post is dedicated to him. Some of you must have read articles about him and most of them were about his findings on a dish which a lot of us hold dear to our heart-- Idli.

I am yet to find out people who dont like idlis. This soft, fluffy, little round piece of magic is one of my favourite breakfast items. (Not that, I cant gulp it down other times too).
Idli in short is a South Indian savory cake . The cakes are usually two to three inches in diameter and are made by steaming a batter consisting of fermented  black lentils (de-husked) and rice. The fermentation process breaks down the starches so that they are more readily metabolized by the body. (Source- Wikipedia) This process relies almost entirely on the weather to change a batter of ground rice and split peas into a light froth, which then only requires a quick steaming to become a deliciously light, highly nutritious, and very digestible breakfast.
(Trivia-- There are 64 calories in a piece of idly (depending on weight) and it is more nutritious than a dosa)

Story of Idli

K T Achaya’s theory is that idlis are a relatively recent introduction to India, and it might have actually come from Indonesia.He notes that the word might derive from ‘iddalige’, first mentioned in a Kannada work (Vaddaradhane) of 920 AD, but the indications are that this was made from an urad dhal batter only, which was neither fermented, nor steamed to fluffiness.

The Sanskrit Manasollasa of 1130 AD has ‘iddarika’, but again made from urad dhal flour only.  It actually describes iddarika as made of fine urad flour fashioned into small balls and then spiced with pepper powder, cumin powder and asafoetida. In Karnataka, a century later, the idli is described as being 'light, like coins of high value.'. 
In Tamil, the ' itali' makes only a late appearance, in 17 th century AD (in Maccapuranam).

All these references, Achaya notes, leave out three key aspects of idlis: “the use of rice grits along with urad dhal; the long fermentation of the mix; and the steaming of the batter to fluffiness.” 

Then how did the modern idli evolve?
Achaya contends that only after 1250 AD are there references to what seem to be idlis as we know them. Achaya’s contention is that this absence from the historical record could mean that idlis are an imported concept — perhaps from Indonesia.

But again, why Indonesia? 
Hindu kings from Indonesia, a country where fermenting is quite common, often came to India between the 8th and the 12th centuries, looking for brides. The cooks with them, suggested Achaya, brought the technique that changed the character of this breakfast delight. Indonesia  has a long tradition of fermented products, like tempeh (fermented soy cakes), kecap (from where we get ketchup) or something called kedli, which Achaya says, is like an idli. This is plausible enough given the many links between Southeast Asia and South India, through Hindu rulers and traders.

Is that the only version of the story??
No.Many critics also contend that just because of the absence of literature of a particular dish cannot rule out its existence in a region. (They so badly want idli to be Indian.;)).Remember the Kannada book which had ' iddalige'--(Read above)--Some linguistic experts say, Many old words appearing in the Vaddaradhane,but extinct now in modern Kannada, are existing still in Tulu even now.Like "muttukadi","baikam"(Baikampadi) etc.Apparently, old Kannada and Tulu shared many words at that time;maybe they also shared rice dishes like iddli (iddalige). We are handicapped by the absence of Tulu texts dating back to 10th C. AD or older ones.
Compare this with the numerous leaf based steam cooked Tulu rice dishes similar to iddli in technology.However it is difficult to trace the antiquity of these leaf-wraped precursors of iddlis.
Since,leafy vessels are more primitive designs than the more modern iddli cooking vessels, so many would argue that these Tulu disheslike moode,gunda,kotte etc., were the actual ancestors of the modern iddlis.

Ok- they might be ancestors, but not the real deal right. So we are now left to believe Iddli is indeed a gift from the Indonesians. And here is why.

Its all about fermentation...

Whether imported from Indonesia or invented in India, it’s worth noting how unique the idli fermentation process is. Its sometimes assumed that it’s like bread fermentation for bread, so it could be facilitated by yeast. Restaurants abroad often do this, as Mumbai hotelier V V Kamat discovered while working as a young man in a London restaurant. But as he notes in his lively autobiography, titled Idli, Orchid and Will Power, “the idlis made there were like stone.” He surreptitiously started making them the proper way, leaving unleavened batter to ferment overnight, and the problem was solved.

This extraordinary phenomenon is explained by Harold McGee, a food science expert- Leavening is often thought of as just being a matter of producing gas bubbles, through chemical substances like baking powder, or biological ones like yeast. But as important as making bubbles is trapping them, which is what elastic gluten proteins do in bread made from wheat. Rice has little gluten, so something else is needed and this McGee suggests is provided by bacteria similar to the ones that make yoghurt, which work in idli batter alongside gas producing organisms to thicken it enough to trap the bubbles. Yeast might work too fast, producing bubbles that would escape because the batter wasn’t thick enough yet.
Only overnight fermentation would result in the perfect light, slightly sour batter that is steamed to made idlis. Light, wholesome, low in fat, well balanced between carbs and proteins, perfectly textured to absorb spicy sauces like sambar or cool chutneys. 

So apparently, we Indians didnt know of this fermentation process till the Indonesian kings came to find brides.And as usual, we embraced the dish and the process and made it our own.

Oh..We didnt have vessels too

Another reason purported in favour of idlis immigration is the lack of steaming vessels in India in 7 th century AD. Remember Xuan Zang, whose exploits we had to painfully mug up during our history classes, was categorical in stating that India did not have a steaming vessel. (Who knew travellers whould actually take note of vessels?) 

But then again, critics say that steaming can be achieved by much more simplistic techniques. Like tying a cloth on top of any vessel used to cook with boiling water in it essentially works as steaming. Now, I think from time immemorial people had been doing just that. Chinese started with bamboo steamers. So do you really need vessels to replicate steaming process??

Chutney powder to go along with.. ( aka addendum)
I actually set out to search for idli like foods in other cuisines and was surprised to find almost all of them had some kind of steamed cake and some even fermented too. It will take a whole new post to document that.

So I thought I will conecentrate my efforts on just Indonesian cuisine- Does a 'kedli' exist which Achaya said is the ancestor or sibling of Idli?
Unfortunately, I couldnt find any kedlis there. Though I found Bura,  rice cooked in coconut milk, served with spicy coconut powder
 Ok, it looks more like rectangular idli-ilayappam, but dont we also eat idlis with chutney powder? If you know of more similar dishes, especially in Indonesian cuisine, do comment.

Idlis are also  offered as nivedyam (food offering) on Ganesha chathurthi day ( in some parts of India, especially South) - although the special idli is made from paccha arisi (raw rice), deviating from the norm, since the commonly made idli from puzhungal arisi (pre-cooked, rice par-boiled with the husk) is considered "impure" or un-offerable as it violates the principle of offering only fresh made things in cooked food to the Lord. 

Kanchi Paramacharya also offers a philosophical twist to the whole idli condundrum. 
"The term iduthal (in Tamil) refers to keeping something set and untouched. We call the cremation ground idukaadu (in Tamil). There we keep the mrita sarira (mortal body) set on the burning pyre and then come away. The term iduthal also refers to refining gold with fire. The (Tamil) term idu marunthu has a similar connotation: a drug given once without any repetition of dosage. In the same way, we keep the iddly wet flour on the oven and do nothing to it until it is cooked by steam."

(Wow. That sure is deep
And well, then we all lived happily ever after eating idlis..;).


Vircabutar have also provided some extra information on idlis- 
One of the indonesian fermented, steamed cake is called "kue mangkok."This also kind of attributes to the origin of Idli from Indonesia.
There are a lot of variety of idlis. A collection of recipes is attached. 

Note- I have tried all of them except Ramasseri idlis. And you're welcome to give me more idli recipes

Newspaper links and articles- Some interesting ones-- Link1   Link 2  Link 3

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Lets start with-- Story of Avial

 Picture courtesy: Kitchenmishmash

According to Wikipedia, Aviyal or avial  is a dish that has a unique place in typical Kerala as well as Tamil cuisine. It is a thick mixture of vegetables, curd and coconut seasoned with coconut oil and curry leaves. Aviyal is considered an essential part of the Sadhya.(traditional feast of Kerala served in banana leaves = yum heaven).

But why Avial as my first post??

Indian cuisine especially Kerala cuisine is a mashed up version of a lot of cuisines. Because of the interaction and assimilation with a lot of cultures from time immemorial, food in our land has undergone a lot of changes. What better way to welcome a visitor than offering them the food they love?

Avial essentially means ‘to be cooked’. Colloquially, it also refers to a mixture of anything and everything. I could not think of a better dish to start with-since we are celebrating food and understanding all the different ways it could have come to us.

So, trivia time- There are different stories surrounding the origin of Avial.

Version 1  says there was a random king who didnt like to waste anything and when he saw leftovers of cut vegetables getting wasted,ordered the chef to make use of everything. The imaginative chef apparently invented the dish Aviyal.

Version 2 which is a more elaborate version than first one is more interesting. According to this legend, aviyal was invented by Bhima ( remember the big strong Pandava in Mahabharata). Apparently, during his exile in the kingdom of Virata- he was in the disguise of a cook and obviously being the macho warrior he knew zilch about cooking. So he did, what some of us did in our early days of cooking. Chopped up different vegetables, boiled them in water and added grated coconut. And thank his lucky stars, the dish became a hit and thus Aviyal was born.
This version is often mixed up with Version 1 and embellished making the king of Virata the thrifty king who didnt like wasting and Bhima the imaginative cook. But I guess it was just a Chinese whispered tale.

No matter how interesting the story may seem, many find it difficult to believe it since Pandavas apparently was crisscrossing only parts of North India during their exile and  Virat kingdom is somewhere near present day Rajasthan. Critics ask, if the story was true- then how come Aviyal is mostly a South Indian dish. North Indians generally don't eat Aviyal as a part of their regular cuisine unless they have gotten inspired by their South Indian neighbours next door. I have my wild theories regarding that- but since I dont have historical backing and its just a wild story let me complete with all the versions of Aviyal history and get to my imaginative history.

Update on Version 2- Tharakan Sir from Parayil blog also puts forth an explanation which indicates that " it is believed that the Pandavas spent a considerable time in Kerala during their year of hiding after the vanavasa (living in the forests) of 12 years. If they were recognized during that period the cycle of vanavasa and hiding had to be repeated. They had to be very careful to remain incognito. While the other Pandavas were satisfied with living on fruits etc., Bhima’s appetite required more solid food".This possibly is an alternate explanation for the ubiquitous presence of Aviyal in Kerala, but again its a myth which at the moment I dont have historical facts to back up with.

Version 3 comes from Kottarathil Sankunni. Those who dont know him- He is the author of Aithihyamaala ( basically a compilation of lores and legends of Kerala).The Maharaja of Travancore used to perform Murajapam (kind of an elaborate pooja (ritual) with lots of Brahmin pundits I guess) every year, a vedic seminar, in which a large number of vedic scholars participated. One year it so happened that there was no vegetables left on the last day of the Murajapam.. Only few pieces of various vegetables left over from the previous days were available. The cook cut all the left overs into long thin pieces and prepared "Aviyal." The king liked the dish so much and presented him with a gold bracelet and ordered that this dish be served every year since then.

Regardless of which version is true, all of them are interesting-dontcha think??

So now comes my wild analysis of it all- keeping in mind the Bhima version is true. ( The below version of the evolution of aviyal dont have any historical backing. Though, all the facts described unless stated otherwise is true).
Avial is also a common dish found in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh. I am not sure about Karnataka-so help me out there. Infact, Avial and Adai in Tamilnadu is a widely sought out delicacy.

If you already didnt know it, Avial is primarily a Nair delicacy. There is even a saying in my place, which almost translates that Aviyal is no Aviyal if a Nair didnt make it. ( And we have been told my dad who is a pukka Christian makes a mean Avial compared to all the Nairs in our area. Glee!.:)). Anyways who are these Nairs?

They are our very own warrior class of Kerala known for their exceptional cooking skills ( That discovery is from me based on purely oral folklore-Comment if you know anything more.)The 17th century Brahmin-inspired  Keralolpathi (origin of Kerala) and the Grama Padhati of Tulu Brahmins describes the Nairs of Kerala and the similarly matrilineal Bunts of Tulu Nadu as descendants of Kshatriyas who accompanied the Brahmins to Kerala and Tulu Nadu respectively from Ahichatra/Ahikshetra in northern Panchala. (which is in present day Uttar Pradesh). So could it be that the Bhima story is true and the Nairs actually came from North India with the secret recipe ( ah, well not so secrety, come to think of it) and popularized in South India?

Could it also be descendants of Virata kingdom, which is originally founded by fishermen community who later attained kingship migrated to the Southern coastal regions and carried the recipe of the prized dish with them?? ( This assumption has no historical backing)
Whichever ways it is, I am sure it was an interesting ride for the Avial. For such a simple and humble dish, who thought it will have so much of stories behind it.

And it aint over yet.

Like any other dishes, it also has variations in the way its prepared in different regions. I can only speak for some regions and about Kerala, so feel free to add more if you guys know about it.

The traditional aviyal generally uses common vegetables in Kerala like Plantain(Ethakka),Elephant Yam(Chena),Long string beans(Achinga Payaru),Snake gourd(padavalenga),Cucumber(Vellarikka),DrumSticks(Muringakka) ,Raw Mango(Pacha maanga) and Carrots.In northern Kerala they even put Bitter Gourd(Paavakka) .
There is a significant difference in the way Avial is prepared in South Kerala compared to North. I never knew it till I ate Aviyal from a friends place in Cochin. In South Kerala, garlic is added while grinding the coconut. And sometimes instead of curd, tamarind or raw mango pieces are used. Thats how it is done in my home in Kollam, but I love the curd version of Avial.

Update on regional differences- In some parts of Thrissur, Aviyal is made very watery instead of the usual dry version.The vegetables are allowed to cook till soft, the coconut is grounded to a smooth paste with  liberal quantities of water and buttermilk added. As a final touch, a couple of smashed pearl onions will be dropped into the curry, giving it a delicious flavour. And my friend from Karnataka had shared that there is an adaptation of the avial that you see in the coastal belt (Mangalore region) where the cuisine has Kerala influences. It is more like a gravy though.

So anyone coming across these recipes, please do let me know.

In the traditional aviyal, all vegetables go in it, except perhaps, some mushy vegetables, like, tomato, brinjal, ladies fingers, cabbage, cauliflower, beetroot (it stains the dish), radish, turnip, onion, sweet potato, etc. Ever wondered why? It also gives us the answer why a Brahmin wouldnt put onion in Avial ( ofcourse must have been in the older days). Thats because most of these are foreign vegetables which was brought to Kerala either through traders, tourists or invaders. And at one point of time, those were considered to be impure.

Last trivia for the day For example, the big onion which we lovingly call us as 'savola' back home came from the Portugese. Go to Brazil or Portugal, they call the big onion- cebola. Makes sense?

More about this later--

For all you know, they must be making avial at their homes.:P. Just kidding!.


After all this aviyal talk and no recipes..dont kick me-- there is from 2 lovely food bloggers who often come to my rescue in days of need. I have tried out both the recipes and they are awesome.

Avial from Kitchenmishmash

Love it for the detail and precision.If you're cooking for the first time, way to go recipe and trust me, its totally worth following everything. I got my first pat on the back for cooking from guests for that.

Avial from Varsha

That recipe makes it all sound so easy, and when you do it- it actually is..


Sauted by a.ka. credits:

Random food history books on India
PBS documentaries (Six part series of History Of India)

 A big thanks to Mishmash, Varsha and Maddy for the inspiration and support and letting me use your precious babies (known as blog posts)

Note:  I have used the recipes and pictures of bloggers who have given me permission to do so.I know how much of an effort it takes to be a food blogger and I respect it. If you would love to showcase your recipes or post your pics, it will be my pride and pleasure to do so. Do leave me a mail or comment if you are interested in being part of this. The more the merrier.

Wanna know more about Nairs. Maddy has a different version about how Nairs came into Kerala- From Scythia. He goes and analyse a little more far behind. Check out Maddys blog which gives you a detailed review.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Recipe of a foodies diary

Like a lot of women, I love cooking. It is sometimes a stress buster, at times a boring routine. But mostly its the easiest way to get our creative juices flowing. What better pleasure than to rummage through your kitchen cupboards, hand pick your experimental objects for the day, burn your brain cells and grease your hands to finally have a pinch of the taste. God must have been a woman. There I said it. Everything a woman do right from child birth to cooking- all alternate expressions of creation. Too deep, huh?

Beyond all that, I myself ( and I suspect a lot of others too) enjoy cooking for others. I love to have that feeling of being appreciated and cooking helps me have that almost everyday. But being the lazy bum I am, I dont really have a rhyme and pattern in my cooking expeditions. Sometimes I make something totally out of my imagination. Sometimes I pilfer it from some of my favourite food bloggers (Muaah. You are all awesome). Either ways, I always have a unique dish, no matter how many times I have made it. This coupled with the fact that Im lazy prevents me from jotting down recipes and actually posting it. But hey, who needs me when there are some awesome food bloggers out there. (Check my blog roll to see my faves). 

Still, I thought I could somehow be part of it all. Food bloggers are a most amazingly cohesive group and I was devastated I couldnt partake of that camarederie .Then, one fine day the most amazing idea struck me when I was reading a piece on how Buddha died. Apparently, he died out of eating poisoned pork according to a version of history. Buddha always advised his disciples to accept whatever is offered as alms to them and consume it with utmost gratitude and bless the donor.* This was totally fascinating considering the fact that Buddhism is a religion which actively promotes vegetarianism.(Which was my only grouse with the religion.;).See, Im a dedicated non vegetarian).
This was a lot of months back. I had always been interested in understanding the how, when, where and why's of food. Where did all this food come from? How can it be all so different? Genesis and origins of food items, especially the ones from India would be such an interesting idea to blog on. When I shared this thought with an awesome food blogger, Kitchenmishmash she thought its an interesting concept too. But well, it just got stuck in the brain storming phase.

So, now finally I think I will give it  a shot. 

This blog is purely an amateurish attempt at finding the roots of foods we all love. What if it get lost forever? So this is a humble effort to preserve the trivia and stories behind them.

I will not claim it is all 100% accurate as I will be collecting it from various sources, including blogs and internet. Hence feel free to comment if you differ with something. And you are more than welcome to contribute here. Infact, I would love that. Also pass on tips on books, info sources which covers these. I will be concentrating mostly, on Indian food, but will also venture out on other foods also once in a while.


Trivia of Buddhas death

Several claims are there regarding Buddhas death, one being he died out of old age and the other being he was poisoned because of a special cuisine. In the Mahaparinibbana Sutta, we are told that the Buddha became ill suddenly after he ate a special delicacy, Sukaramaddava, literally translated as "soft pork", which had been prepared by his generous host, Cunda Kammaraputta, who was a metal worker aka blacksmith.
He would at no cost refuse the food which is offered to him. I guess the age old tradition of having to eat whatever is offered by the host suns a long time back. No wonder, our moms are so persistent in feeding guests. Old habits die hard.

A detailed medical analysis is als found here . Its a detailed article, though the conclusion is a bit hazy from what was discussed before.

The other vesion claims that it was not a dish of pork, but wild mushrooms which instigated the disease.