Food for Fundamentalism: How Capitalism and Communitarianism are stealing our plate

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Since my frame of reference in this series is Urdu poetry, alas, there will be a lot that I will miss in a country as rich in food and so culturally diverse as ours, but I hope it will. will serve to rekindle the memories of those who were once beloved. – foods forgotten for some and the discovery of new delicacies which will make up for the gaps.

Perhaps no other Urdu poet has written more about food than Nazir Akbarabadi, the quintessential people poet of Agra. There is of course his ballad on roast, rightly called ‘Rotinama ‘, but there are also poems titled ‘Agre Ki Kakdi’, ‘Tarbouz’ (Watermelon’), ‘Kharbouze’ (“Melon”), ‘Santara‘(‘ Orange ‘), ‘Narangi’ (“Chinese orange”), ‘Jalebiyan’ . Here he talks about the quliya with its thin, watery curry once the beloved pairing with the mild pulao now overshadowed by the flamboyant biryani-qorma:

‘Nazīr’ yaar ki hum ne jo kal ziyafat ki

Pakāyā qarz mañgā kar pulav aur quliya

I organized a banquet for my beloved, ‘Nazir’

And took a loan to cook a pulao and quliya

Majeed Lahori talks about bhune teetar (roasted partridge) now reduced to a distant memory:

Murġhiyan kofte machhli bhune teetar ande

Kis ke ghar jaega sailab-e-ġhiza simple baad

Chicken, kofte, fish, roasted partridge, eggs

To what house will this flood of food be sent after me

In her nazm, ‘Woh kaisi aurten thiin’, Asna Badr asks:

Jo sil by surkh mirchein piis kar saalan pakaatii thiin

Sahar se shaam tak masruuf lekin muscuraatii thiin

Crushing red peppers on a mortar, they’d cook a curry

Busy from dawn to dusk they’d be busy but still smiling


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