Dastarkhwan: Food Writing from Muslim South Asia by Claire Chambers

Beacon Books

The kitchen is often the heart of South Asian homes. Muslim South Asian kitchens, in particular, are the engines of an entire culture. The alchemy that takes place within them affects nations and economies, politics and history, and of course human relationships. There is proof of it in Dastarkhwan, Claire Chambers’s anthology of essays, stories and recipes supplied by some of the region’s most well-loved writers, historians and chefs.

An unexpected revelation awaits Nadeem Aslam in a London restaurant as he yearns for a special delicacy from Pakistan. Kaiser Haq takes us from the foods of his rural Bangladesh to the Dhaka street food of 2020. Meanwhile Indian masterchef Sadaf Hussain recounts how the samosa came to be paired with chai, and of his own newly discovered love for the beverage. Sanam Maher uncovers the fascinating history of the burger’s arrival in Pakistani restaurants. Uzma Aslam Khan tells the tale of a young time-travelling daughter mourning the death of her confectioner father. And Gulla puts his heart into making the perfect Kashmiri nadroo yakhni but is taken aback by a hairy surprise in Asiya Zahoor’s story ‘The Hairy Curry’.  

A multitude of flavours blend with love, joy, grief, regret and nostalgia in this book which is not only a beautiful collection of food writing, but also a rich helping of the histories and cultures of Muslim South Asia and its diasporas.