International Journal of South Asian Studies
Online ISSN : 2434-3005
Muslim Writers and Food in North India, 1850-1920:
Nostalgia and Uneasiness
So Yamane
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2021 Volume 11 Pages 18-32


This paper focuses primarily on food imagery in nineteenth century printed Urdu literary works, and how it shows the uneasiness towards or accommodation of modern culture. A diverse selection of sources is examined, including memoirs of the Persianate Mughal Court and durbar in Lucknow, letters by Urdu poet Ghālib (1797-1869), religious opinions issued by the Deobandi school, and a novel by Nadhīr Aḥmad (1836-1912). These writings concerning courtly food culture give the impression of a strong nostalgia for a refined past and discomfiture regarding modernization. Although the sophisticated food culture described was only for nobles, it serves as a symbol of Indo-Muslim culture, allowing readers of the memoirs to share in the nostalgia. However, the literature also reveals a friction between the ‘traditional’ Muslim society and the new society brought by the British, as portrayed by the protagonist in Aḥmad’s novel. Crucially, matters of faith are shown as a source of uneasiness in these food writings, leading us to connect such checkered feelings with the development of religious consciousness among Indo-Muslims.

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© 2021 The Japanese Association for South Asian Studies
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