Rampuriyat : Culinary journey
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I am thoroughly fueled by my love of the local wealth of food delights inherent to cultural backgrounds. My interest in food triggered the interes tin me to document a cuisine from India and the wide range of traditional recipes that stem down from several generations. In a discussion with my Professor, I learnt about the royal cusine of Rampur and a growing revival of interest in it in recent years. With my family belonging to Uttar Pradesh, I was familiar with Rampur for its reputation as a centre for arts and academics, for its appliqué work, for the distilleries and Ganga, for its unique spirit of cultural and religious synthesis, a legacy of its nawabi and colonial past and most importantly for its ‘Rampuri Chaku’ made popular by the hindi cinema. Perhaps not as mainstream as the other Mughlai cuisines, Rampuri cuisine, a royal cuisine of India, is equally rich in its culinary heritage and has a wide variety of unique dishes like Adrak ka halwa, Gosht ka Halwa, Mirch ka Halwa, Gosht ke Gulab Jamun and many more. The cuisines from Delhi and Awadh are easily accessible in restaurants and street foods but Rampuri cuisine is not so easily available. To know more about the cuisine, I called up my relatives in Uttar Pradesh living in proximity of Rampur, but none of them seemed to know much about this cuisine. Thus began the search for the royal cuisine of Rampur. This project talks about the courtly cuisine of Rampur, the last Muslimruled princely state in the colonial United Provinces in the years after the revolt of 1857. Owing to its rich and entangled history, the cuisine here is a confluence of numerous cooking styles Awadhi, Mughlai, Afghani, and local, forming the new Rampuri cuisine. The khansamas of Rampur had mastered the art of blending different influences in their food. They were also masters in disguising the ingredients, which essentially meant that the diners would perhaps never know what they were eating unless they were told. This was an aspect of the royal cuisine of Rapmpur that caught my interest in the subject. I was interested to understand how this aspect of the royal cuisine evolved in the kitchens of Rampur, what was the purpose of this artistry and who were the people who patronised and gave life to this culinary tradition?. This project thus took shape as both a quest for the royal cuisine of Rampuri cuisine as well as a larger quest to understand the distinctive history and political identity of Rampur as it emerged from the shadows of the Mughals and the princely kingdom of Awadh in the period after 1857. The title of the book Rampuriyat indicates the distinctive identity this princely kingdom carved out for itself and one that it is still evident in its architecture, its cosmpolitan courtly culture and more significantly in its cuisine.