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My Bombay Kitchen

Traditional and Modern Parsi Home Cooking

Niloufer Ichaporia King (Author), Alice Waters (Foreword)

Available worldwide

Hardcover, 355 pages
ISBN: 9780520249608
June 2007
$36.95, £25.95
Other Formats Available:
The Persians of antiquity were renowned for their lavish cuisine and their never-ceasing fascination with the exotic. These traits still find expression in the cooking of India's rapidly dwindling Parsi population—descendants of Zoroastrians who fled Persia after the Sassanian empire fell to the invading Arabs. The first book published in the United States on Parsi food written by a Parsi, this beautiful volume includes 165 recipes and makes one of India's most remarkable regional cuisines accessible to Westerners. In an intimate narrative rich with personal experience, the author leads readers into a world of new ideas, tastes, ingredients, and techniques, with a range of easy and seductive menus that will reassure neophytes and challenge explorers.
foreword by alice waters / ix
acknowledgments / xiii


Kitchens, Equipment, and the Basics 27
Beginnings 49
Soups 73
Eggs 83
Fish and Seafood 93
Meat and Poultry 111
Rice and Dal 161
Vegetables 185
Salads 211
Chutneys, Pickles, and Relishes 221
Sweets and Desserts 241
Drinks 269
menus / 281

glossary / 289
sources / 315
further reading / 317
index / 323
Niloufer Ichaporia King is an independent scholar.
“Mark my words: King could do for Indian cooking in America what Alice Waters and company did for the food of southern France.”—San Francisco Magazine
“Essential reading for anyone to understand Parsi culture and cuisine. . . . She writes informatively and precisely, and she evokes the passion to cook.”—The Art Of Eating
Niloufer Ichaporia King’s intimate tone, wit, and personal stories make us feel as if we’re right next to her.—Chow
“Bringing regional Indian cuisine(s) home for all of us”—Los Angeles Times
“The book easily transports readers to the household of the Ichaporia family in Bombay (now Mumbai) and submerges them in the scents and tastes of Parsi food. As talented a writer as she is a cook, the author manages this with charm (enhanced by old-time family photographs) but without sentimentality. Her approach to cooking is traditional in the manner of Parsi cooking over the centuries: absorbing new ideas and influences without losing its essential Indo-Persian character. . . . Interesting, reliable and beautifully written.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Begins with a brief history of the Parsis and an introduction to her grandmother's and mother's kitchens and then presents more than 150 recipes, both sophisticated and homey, many of which will be unfamiliar even to most Indian-food lovers. The headnotes are informative and entertaining, and the book concludes with a selection of menus, a detailed glossary, a Source guide, and a bibliography. Highly recommended.” (Starred Review)—Library Journal
“Once you get the hang of making ginger and garlic paste (which you can put in almost anything!), your cooking will never be the same. . . . I can also personally testify to King's “Get-Well Soup,'' a broth redolent with cinnamon, lime, turmeric and, yes, more ginger and garlic. It is probably the first known cure for the common cold. Reason enough to buy the book.”—Bloomberg News
“A lush memoir in the form of a cookbook, by a talented writer and inspired cook who grew up in a Parsi household in Bombay. With pervading wit and droll sense of humor, she tells us what it means to be part of the 3,000-year-old Parsi culture, and how this plays out in a crazy amalgam of India and the West.. . . She brings alive culinary traditions, passed on through generations of beloved household cooks, mothers and grandmothers. This cooking may soon disappear. UNESCO projects that only 25,000 Parsis may exist in the world by 2020 — one more reason to grab this extraordinary book and start cooking.”—Patricia Unterman San Francisco Examiner
“Bringing regional Indian cuisine(s) home for all of us”—Sun-Sentinel
Niloufer Ichaporia King may come from Bombay, or today’s Mumbai. But her exuberant My Bombay Kitchen: Traditional and Modern Parsi Cooking (University of California Press, $27.50) gets my vote as the most delightful American cookbook in years. American? Well, where else could it have been conceived and delivered?—Anne Mendelson New York Times
“Melting-pot cuisine gets a star turn in Niloufer Ichaporia King's My Bombay Kitchen.”—Boston Globe
“Answers a longstanding need in this country for documentation of the foodways of the Parsis, one of India’s many ethnic groups. This book, written with knowing wit by an author of Parsi origin and backed by a wealth of scholarship, may be the definitive volume on this great cuisine. [Exudes] lighthearted, breezy confidence from beginning to end without sacrificing its central mission of teaching readers how easy and satisfying it is to bring the genius of Parsi cuisine into their homes.”—Madhur Jaffrey Saveur
"Niloufer King's food is always delicious. Here she unravels her native Parsi cuisine with love and intelligence, revealing its secrets and the little touches that make her dishes stand out. Bravo!"—Paula Wolfert, author of The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen

"With clever wit and panache, cook and culinary anthropologist, Niloufer King introduces us to one of India's most exceptional regional cuisines. Her market-inspired dishes have layers of flavor that immediately satiate your palate, yet leave you longing for the next bite. A gift of love from a passionate cook."—Gary Danko, Chef and Principle, Restaurant Gary Danko

“Niloufer’s Bombay Kitchen is a place of delight and seduction. The stories and recipes are beautifully crafted and spiked with wit and wisdom. From an exotic coconut milk and fish stew to a simple cucumber-ginger salad, to her grilled Thanksgiving turkey, each dish is a treasure.”—Judy Rogers, chef and owner, Zuni Café

"Full of evocative memories, tastes, smells, colors, places, kitchens, family, and friends—This is so much more than a cookbook!"—Diana Kennedy, author of The Essential Cuisines of Mexico

"What a seductive book! Niloufer King goes straight to the heart of what food is all about and makes you want to rush to the kitchen to join her. I'd read this fascinating book for the sheer fun of it, even without any recipes-but oh, the recipes!"—Fran McCullough, editor of the Best American Recipes series

Book Award in Asian Cooking, James Beard Foundation

Born in Bombay, anthropologist, independent scholar, and doyenne of Parsi cuisine Niloufer Ichaporia King spent many years compiling the recipes of her childhood. Since moving to the United States in 1971, she has made a mark in many gastronomic circles, from local markets to famous kitchens. Recently King was interviewed by her editor, Hannah Love.

This is your first cookbook, and yet you have been cooking for groups, sharing your recipes, and conducting research for years. What inspired you to write My Bombay Kitchen?

When my mother turned 90 in 2000, the daughter in me wanted to mark the occasion by writing up the recipes for the many Parsi dishes I had cooked under my parents’ joint supervision. Since Parsi recipes would mean nothing out of context, the anthropologist part of me wanted to fix them in time and place. The cook in me wanted to show how very easy, unintimidating, and delicious Parsi food can be—how there’s something for nearly every taste and level of cooking ability.

Cookbooks aren’t often paired with university presses. Why did you choose to publish with University of California Press?

A university press is more likely to see the value of food presented in some sort of personal and cultural context rather than as a sequence of micro-managed shopping lists. Having admired several books that have preceded this one in UC Press’s forward-thinking food and culture program, I’m happy to be counted amongst them. And I’m especially pleased to continue my ties with the University of California, which sponsored my collection of Parsi ethnographic material almost twenty-five years ago, and which awarded degrees to both me and my husband, David King, the illustrator of the book.

Which aspect of the book do you hope will most greatly influence a reader’s understanding of the Parsi people?

The idea of enthusiastic adaptation to whatever life and markets present. I also hope that the introduction—with its long jumps through history and the personal narrative that follows—might stimulate a reader’s curiosity about this singular community of mine, and that the recipes themselves will reflect the many layered influences on our culture. Most of all, I hope the book will communicate the long-held Parsi love for sharing the pleasures of the table without fuss or anxiety.

Do you have a favorite childhood memory associated with one of the recipes in My Bombay Kitchen?

Making puris for my mother to fry, rolling them out using a little board and pin made especially for me by a friend of my parents’.

Can you point to any ways that your experience with "California cuisine" has influenced your style of traditional Parsi cooking?

In some of its aspects, California cuisine is what we were doing all along—buying local, seasonal, fresh food not for ideological reasons but because when I was growing up in India, that’s pretty much what you had to do. Coming to California in 1971 was like entering Rosetti’s goblin market—such a tremendous, alluring banquet of possibilities couldn’t help but influence my Parsi cooking. And it continues to do so with the increasing availability of inspiring ingredients.

The Parsi population is rapidly declining worldwide, making My Bombay Kitchen not only a cookbook but also a cultural document. As an anthropologist, what do you hope the book’s impact will be?

I want to show that cultural change and geographical dispersal do not necessarily mean a loss of identity or authenticity, but rather a rearticulation in a different context. The most tenacious aspects of culture are often those that can incorporate change, like Parsi food over the centuries in India and now in the New World.

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