This article may require copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone, or spelling. You can assist by editing it. (April 2023) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

Indian cookbooks are cookbooks written in India, or about Indian cooking. Some of the oldest cookbooks were written in India[1] Indian cooking varies regionally and has evolved over the centuries due to various influences. Vegetarianism has made a significant impact on Indian cooking.[2] Spices play a major role in Indian cooking.[3]

Early Indian texts and cookbooks

Ayurvedic Samhitas (4th century BCE)

Left: Ayurvedic texts classifies rice varieties into 14 types of Śāli and different ways to cook them. Right: Yusha (lentil- dish) in ancient Ayurvedic texts was staple Dal dish.[4]
Dahi vada
Examples of dishes that finds mentioned in ancient and medieval period cookbooks and are part of modern Indian tradition; clockwise from top left: Kachori, Mithai (confectioneries), Dhokla, Modak, Chakli, Sevai.[5]
Idli and plain vada
Dahi vada
The 12th-century Manasollasa describes foods that continue to be part of modern Indian tradition. Above clockwise from top left in Sanskrit: Dosaka (Dosa), Iddarika and Vataka (Idli and vada), Parika (pakoda) and Kshiravata (Dahi vada).[6][7]

Ayurvedic texts classifies food into three categories, namely; Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic foods. Tastes (rasa) is classified into six types known as Shadrasa according to their qualities for ideal meal. These six tastes include; sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter, astringent. Traditional meal presentation often includes all six of these flavors.[8][9] Several Samhitas from Ayurveda texts describes and discusses methods to cook food, it mentions recipes for cooking rice in different ways, Tāpaharī (seasoned-rice dish), Khichadi (rice-lentil dish), Takra (curd dish), Yusha (lentil dish), Vesavara (minced meat dish), different methods to cook grains, pulses, meats, milk products, vegetables, fruits, leafy greens, roots, oils, sugarcane products to prepare foods.[10] It describes varieties of meat recipes such as; the Ullupta (minced meat dish), Bharjita (fried), Pishta (made into balls or pattie), Pratapta (roasted with clarified butter over a charcoal fire), Kandupachita (dipped in mustard oil and powdered aromatic condiments and roasted and done to a honey colour over a charcoal fire), Parishushka and Pradigdha go by the general name of Shulya (meat cooked over charcoal fire), among others.[11]

Among spice blends, it lists "Trikatu"; mixture of long pepper, black pepper, dried ginger. "Trijataka"; mixture of cinnamomum tamala, cardamoms, cinnamon. "Pancakola"; long pepper, long-pepper roots, piper chaba, plumbago zeylanica, dry ginger. These spice blends are mentioned alongside turmeric, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, dried mango, mustard seeds, and edible champor.[12] These spice blends also appear in medieval cookbooks by the same name.[13]

A chapter in Sushruta Samhita is dedicated to dining etiquette, method of serving food and proper placement of each dish before the diner.[14] This dining and serving etiquette is also adopted in medieval cookbooks with some variations.[13]

Sangam literature (3rd century BCE to c. 3rd century CE)

Sangam literature offers references to food and recipes during Sangam era, whether it's a feast at king's palace, meals in towns and countryside, at hamlets in forests and the rest-houses during travels. It describes the cuisine of various landscapes and people who reside there, how they prepared food, and what they served their guests in details. Poet Avvaiyar for example describes her hearty summer lunch as "steamed rice, smoked and mashed aubergine and tangy frothy buttermilk", while poet named Mudathama Kanniyar describes "Skewered goat meat, crispy fried vegetables, rice and over 16 varieties of dishes" as part of the royal lunch he was treated to in the palace of the Chola king.[15]

Lokopakara (1025 CE)

Written by Chavundaraya, this cookbook is compilation of vegetarian recipes. It deals with methods of cooking rice, lentils, pulses, barely, wheat, vegetables, leafy greens, shoots, roots, and flowers. Different methods of using spices and making blends for recipes. Cookwares and different uses for them for different recipes. Preservation of food and fruits to make pickles and papad. Methods of making butter, ghee and different ways to season them. Ingredient substitutions. A chapter is also dedicated to making flavored yogurts and coagulated buffalo milk cheese for sweets. Sweets made from rice flour. Last chapter is dedicated to refreshments made from different types of fruits and ways to season them.[13]

Women having traditional meal from Thali, ca. 1712
Men having traditional meal from Pattal, ca. 1712

Manasollasa (1130 CE)

Main article: Manasollasa

This notable text was compiled during the rule of Chalukya king Someshvara III in the 1130CE, and contains recipes of vegetarian and non-vegetarian cuisines. It also contains a range of cuisines based on fermentation of cereals and flours.[6][16] Among meat dishes, the text describes cuisines based on pork, venison, goat meat, wild fowls and fish among others.[17] It has been suggested that Vaddaradhane, the Kannada text of Jain Acharya Sivakoti written in 920 CE, the mention of iddalige may be the earliest mention of Idali, followed by Manasollasa.[18] This text also has a chapter dedicated to brewing various types of liquor beverages.[19]

Pakadarpana (1200 CE)

This recipe book deals with culinary art, this text is also known as Pākadarpaṇam, Pākaśāstra, Pākakalā, Nalapāka — It consists of 11 chapters known as Prakaraṇas. It lists both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food preparation. It provides details about several methods of cooking rice, meat, legumes, pulses, vegetables, fruits, refreshments, beverages and milk products. Among non-vegetarian rice preparations it includes several different kinds of Maṁsodana/Maṁsānna (meat rice), lāvaka maṁsodana (sparrow meat rice), and kukkuṭa maṁsodana (chicken rice) etc. Methods of preparing food according to seasons, seasoning food with spices according to season. Various vegetables prepared using different parts of the plants have been explained in the text. The method of sūpa (dehusked legumes cooked) preparation has been explained, horse gram (dolichos biflorus), black gram (vigna mungo), cow peas (vigna unguiculata), and chickpea (vicer arietinum) etc. Several Pānaka (refreshment) preparations made from mango, lemon, kokum, flowers and berries. Sweets made from milk products such as various types of flavored milk, flavored butter milk, pasyasam and flavored yogurts etc.[20]

Soopa Shastra (1508 CE)

Written by Mangarasa III, a follower of Jainism, this book is exclusively vegetarian. The ingredients and cooking methods are given detail, and even the types of utensils and ovens needed are mentioned. King Mangarasa III belonged to the Chengalvu dynasty, and was under the suzerainty of Hoysala kings The first chapter describes thirty five breads, sweets and snacks, now mostly obsolete. The second chapter describes drinks, salty, sour and sweet in taste. Third chapter discusses nine types of payasa (kheer), eight types of cooked rice and 24 mixed rice dishes. The remaining three chapters include recipes for 20 dishes with eggplant, 16 dishes with jackfruit and 25 dishes made with raw bananas (plantains) and banana flowers. The last chapter contains recipes using bamboo shoots and myrobalan.[21] Even though it was composed during the rule of a Jain ruler, some of the vegetarian ingredients mentioned, such as onions, are regarded inappropriate for strict Jains.

In the chapter, Pishtakadhyaya, food items made with flour like rotti (Roti), mandige, garige, dose (Dosa), iddali (Idli) have been mentioned. Ancient Kannada poetry has used the term 'rotika' even earlier.[22]

Kshemakutuhala (1549 CE)

Written by Ksemasarma, this cookbook deals with both vegetarian and non-vegetarian recipes. Among non-vegetarian recipes it includes meat of boar, lamb, goat, venison, rabbit, wild and domesticated pigs, game birds, peacocks, fish and tortoise. It lists nine methods of cooking meat. Different methods of cooking rice, pulses and lentils. Spice mixtures and adding them at different points while cooking. Cookwares and their methods of use for different recipes. Milk products, their preparation and making sweets. Longest chapter is dedicated to edible vegetables, leafy greens, flowers, fruits, stalks, bulbs and roots and various methods of cooking them. Last chapter is dedicated to refreshments.[23]

Bhojana Kutuhala (1675 CE)

Written by Raghunatha[24] between 1675 and 1700, Bhojana Kutuhala describes numerous ingredients and dishes then common in the Maharashtra region. The text compiles knowledge about food and cooking described in the Sanskrit texts from the ancient period (up to 5th cent. CE) and the medieval period (5th cent. CE to 17th cent. CE). The second chapter is a historical study of dietetics and culinary art. The treatises like Kṣemakutūhala of Kṣemaśarman and Pākadarpaṇa of Naḷa which discuss exclusively the topics dietetics and culinary art are introduced in the third chapter. The sixth chapter mainly discusses the preparations of various dishes as explained in the Siddhānnaprakaraṇa. The last chapter is a resume of the study comprising discussions and observations.

Bhojana Kutuhala records and credits many earlier culinary cookbooks like "Pākādhikāra of Vaidaksara", "Takravidhi of Rudrayāmala", "Bhimabhojanakutuhala of Vaidyadesika", "Rucivadhugalaratnamala of Paraparnava", "Tambulakapasamgraha of Narasimhabhatta", "Vyañjanavarga of Suṣeṇa", "Pakadhikarana", "Kriradiprakarana", "Vastugunahuna", "Sakaguna", "Annapanavidhi", "Takrapanavidhi", "Pakamartanda", "Vividha Pakabhasmatailadiniramana", "Yogacintamani", "Takrakalpa", "Tambulamanjari" and "Pakavali". Among important treatises it mentions "Paroygaparijata", "Kriyasara Vaidyakasabdasindhu", "Hrdayadipaand Vyanjanavarga". The majority of these have not been published in English, while those that have been published lack critical studies.[25]

Sivatattva Ratnakara (1699 CE)

This work by Basava Bhoopāla is an encyclopedic treatise in Sanskrit. The sixth chapter in this text is dedicated to culinary art, it is an extensive chapter containing twenty seven subdivisions known as tarangas. This chapter deals with kitchen and how it should be built, different types of stoves, organizing kitchen, kitchen implements and how to make them, cooking utensils and types of pots and pans and their benefits. Describes types of rice and different methods of cooking rice, mixed rice recipes, contains both vegetarian and non-vegetarian recipes, confectioneries made from dairy products, and refreshments.[26]

Sultanate and Mughal period cookbooks

Samosas being prepared for the Sultan Ghiyath al-Din, the Sultan of Mandu. The Ni'matnama-i Nasir al-Din Shah, 1495-1505
Babur at Dastarkhan, Mughal painting, 1590 CE.

Under Turkic Sultanate and Mughal period, several new cuisines were introduced like samosa, naan, yahni, korma, kebab, keema, halva, haleem, Jalebi.[27]

The Ni'matnama (c. 1500)

Main article: Ni'matnama

The Ni'matnama is a collection of the recipes written during the rule of Malwa Sultanate, Ghiyath Shahi, and his son and successor, Nasir Shah. It contains recipes for cooking as well as providing remedies and aphrodisiacs.[28] It also includes a sections on the preparation of betel leaves.[29] Unique pickles made from edible flowers are also mentioned in Ni'matnama cookbook.[30] It includes recipes for preparation of minced meat (qīma), samosas, halva, sherbets.[31]

Ain-i-Akbari (1590)

The first book of Ain-i-Akbari (the third volume of the Akbarnama), written in 1590, gives several recipes, mainly those prevailing among the Mughal elite.[32] Ain-i-Akbari divides recipes into three categories of Sufiyana; meat-free dishes, meat-and-rice dishes, and meats cooked with spices.[33]

Alwan-e-Nemat (17th-century)

A book of 101 recipes from the kitchen of Mughal emperor Jahangir.[34][35] A chapter in Alwan-e-Nemat cookbook is also dedicated to dining etiquette. It describes method to lay out Dastarkhan, with leather mat spread over the ornate carpet to protect it, and then cloth spread over the mat before arranging prepared foods at the center. They ate together from large common plates similar to their Central Asian custom.[36][37]


This work includes Pilaf (seasoned rice) recipes[38] from Shah Jahan's reign.[39]

British period

Curry as known today emerged during this period when New World ingredients like chili peppers and tomato became popular.

The British rule saw publication of several cookbooks, some intended for the British elite, others for locals, often in languages like Gujarati, Bangla and Hindi. These include

"English vegetables" (cabbage, cauliflower, tomato, turnip etc.) as they were at one time termed, became common.[43]

Vrahad Pak Vigyan cookbook (1939) in Hindi has a special section on "Angreji" (i.e. English) cooking that includes biscuits, breads ("double-roti"), tomato and mushroom dishes in addition to meat/egg (termed "non-vegetarian" in India) dishes.

During freedom struggle and after Indian independence

Internationalization of Indian cooking

Cookery writer Madhur Jaffrey at a book signing in Vancouver, 2010

With large scale migration of Indians to North America, and with arrival of international influence in India, a new set of cookbook authors emerged.

With the advent of TV and the internet, new food authors have emerged in the past few decades. There is significant international influence because International travel has become common. These include

See also


  1. ^ Dasgupta, Bhaskar (2016-04-01). "The world's first cookbooks". Live Mint. Retrieved 2018-09-03.
  2. ^ Brehaut, Laura (2017-05-03). "Chitra Agrawal's South Indian home cooking classics are light, fresh and vibrant". National Post. Retrieved 2018-09-03.
  3. ^ Love, Laura (2017-05-03). "The Yarm dad whose new Indian cookbook is already a bestseller". gazettelive. Retrieved 2018-09-03.
  4. ^ S., Dhanya; N V, Ramesh; Mishra, Abhayakumar (7 November 2019). "Traditional methods of food habits and dietary preparations in Ayurveda—the Indian system of medicine". Journal of Ethnic Foods. 6 (1): 14. doi:10.1186/s42779-019-0016-4. ISSN 2352-6181.
  5. ^ A historical dictionary of Indian food, Acharya, K.T. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2002.
  6. ^ a b K.T. Achaya (2003). The Story of Our Food. Orient Blackswan. p. 85. ISBN 978-81-7371-293-7.
  7. ^ Edward Farnworth (2008). Handbook of Fermented Functional Foods, 2nd Edition. Routledge. pp. 15–16. ISBN 978-1-4200-5328-9.
  8. ^ Textbook of Ayurveda - Book 1 - Page 310, Vasant Lad ·2002
  9. ^ Payyappallimana, Unnikrishnan; Venkatasubramanian, Padma (2016). "Exploring Ayurvedic Knowledge on Food and Health for Providing Innovative Solutions to Contemporary Healthcare". Frontiers in Public Health. 4: 57. doi:10.3389/fpubh.2016.00057. PMC 4815005. PMID 27066472.
  10. ^ Traditional methods of food habits and dietary preparations in Ayurveda—the Indian system of medicine - Dhanya S (2019) Journal of Ethnic Foods volume 6, Article number: 14 (2019)
  11. ^ Sushruta Samhita Vol 1. Chapter XLVI. Page 536
  12. ^ An English Translation of the Sushruta Samhita: Uttara-tantra, Kunjalal Bhishagratna, Kunjalal Bhishagratna
  13. ^ a b c "Lokopakara" Agri-History Bulletin No. 6 - (Trans) Ayangarya, Y. L. Nene, Nalini Sadhale, Valmiki Sreenivasa (Trans), 2004
  14. ^ An English Translation of the Sushruta Samhita: Uttara-tantra, pp556, Kunjalal Bhishagratna, Kunjalal Bhishagratna
  15. ^ "- A. Shrikumar
  16. ^ Jyoti Prakash Tamang; Kasipathy Kailasapathy (2010). Fermented Foods and Beverages of the World. CRC Press. p. 16. ISBN 978-1-4200-9496-1.
  17. ^ Kamat, Jyotsna K. (1980). Social Life in Medieval Karnāṭaka. Abhinav Publications. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-8364-0554-5.
  18. ^ Palecanda, Lakshmi (2015-07-18). "Kitchen chronicles". Deccan Herald. Retrieved 2018-09-03.
  19. ^ Arundhati, P.; Arundhati, Patibanda (1994). Royal life in Mānasôllāsa (1. publ ed.). New Delhi: Sundeep Prakashan. p. 171. ISBN 8185067899.
  20. ^ The 'Pāka darpaṇam': The text on Indian cookery -;year=2014;volume=33;issue=4;spage=259;epage=262;aulast=Kodlady
  21. ^ "SOOPA SHASTRA OF MANGARASA: CULINARY TRADITIONS OF MEDIEVAL KARNATAKA (1508 A.D.)". Archived from the original on 2019-02-03. Retrieved 2017-05-09.
  22. ^ Did soup flow from Karnataka?, Ratnadeep Banerji, Press Information Bureau, 25-March, 2015
  23. ^ Feasts and Fasts: A History of Food in India, pg171, Colleen Taylor Sen · 2015
  24. ^ Gode, P. K. (1941). "A Topical Analysis of the Bhojana-kutuhala, a Work on Dietetics, composed by Raghunatha — Between A. D. 1675 and 1700". Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. 22 (3/4): 254–263. JSTOR 43975952.
  25. ^ "Dietetics and culinary art in ancient and medieval India - A study with special reference to bhojanakutíhala"- Chapter 1, pages 2-4. Department of Sanskrit, University of Calicut, 2016.
  26. ^ Śiva Tattva Ratnākara;jsessionid=1CD63C8E194F2E59EF82CFAA079A8AAC
  27. ^ Gesteland, Richard R.; Gesteland, Mary C. (2010). India: Cross-cultural Business Behavior : for Business People, Expatriates and Scholars. Copenhagen Business School Press DK. p. 176. ISBN 978-87-630-0222-6.
  28. ^ "The culinary adventures of Ghiyath Shah, the sultan of Malwa". The Indian Express. 2016-05-13. Retrieved 2018-09-03.
  29. ^ Titley, Norah M. (2004-11-30). The Ni'matnama Manuscript of the Sultans of Mandu: The Sultan's Book of Delights. Routledge. ISBN 9781134268078.
  30. ^ From night jasmine to banana blossoms: India's centuries-old love affair with edible flowers by Priyadarshini Chatterjee Jul 13, 2018
  31. ^ "The Ni'matnama Manuscript of the Sultans of Mandu: The Sultan's Book of Delights (Routledgecurzon Studies in South Asia)", Norah Titley, 2006
  32. ^ "India Historical Recipes British-Raj Akbar-period". Archived from the original on 2010-11-21. Retrieved 2017-05-12.
  33. ^ "Resurrecting recipes: Fowl play at Akbar's court" - Soity Banerjee, 2016,
  34. ^ Durbar Entrees, SHEELA REDDY, Outlook, 15 OCTOBER 2001
  35. ^ What did Shah Jahan have for dinner?, LABONITA GHOSH DNA India, 7 Mar 2009
  36. ^ The Emperor's Table: The Art of Mughal Cuisine, Salma Husain, 2008
  37. ^ The Mughal Feast: Recipes from the Kitchen of Emperor Shah Jahan, Salma Yusuf Hussain, 2021
  38. ^ Husain, Salma (2007-01-01). Nuskha-E-Shahjahani. Rupa & Company. ISBN 9788129111364.
  39. ^ A fabled cuisine, A.G. NOORANI, Frontline, Apr. 10-23, 2010
  40. ^ Ramachandran, Ammini (2 May 2012). "Sarabhendra Pakasasthram – Part I". Peppertrail. Retrieved 2 May 2012.
  41. ^ Exploring the Romance of Bengali Sweets with J. Haldar, Itiriti
  42. ^ Cooking Class: Lesson 32 by Yamuna Devi Nov 1, 1997, Lord Krsna's Cuisine, Volume-31 Number-06, Yamuna Devi Dasi
  43. ^ Mukerji, Nitya Gopal (1901). Hand-book of Indian Agriculture. Thacker, Spink & Company.
  44. ^ "Swatantra". Swatantra. 9 (1–26): 47. 1954.
  45. ^ Appadurai, Arjun (January 1988). "How to Make a National Cuisine: Cookbooks in Contemporary India". Comparative Studies in Society and History. 30 (1): 3–24. doi:10.1017/S0010417500015024. S2CID 55081853.
  46. ^ A Memory of my Mother Savitri Devi Chowdhary 1919 - 1996, Shakun Banfield née Chowdhary,
  47. ^ Dutta, Kunal (2014-10-05). "Madhur Jaffrey: The doyenne of curry is back... but tikka's not". The Independent. Retrieved 2018-09-03.
  48. ^ Q. & A. With Julie Sahni (Round Three) THE NEW YORK TIMES APRIL 30, 2010