I am super excited about the research I have been doing in working towards Lochmere’s Midwinters Revel and Feast inspired by the celebration of Lights know as Diwali. This has given me an opportunity to work on Indian food in a historical context and let me tell, you, I have learned a lot. I’ve learned new techniques, flavor combinations, and have even been introduced to new foods in the process.
My inspirations for this feast (other than my good friend, Theresa’s encouragement based on our shared love of Indian food) were built on two concepts. The first being the concept of Ayurvedic medicine and system of “life knowledge” that was present in ancient Indian culture, even surviving in modern eastern medicine.
The basic concept that is being incorporated involves the 6 “tastes” that should be included in each meal to provide mind-body balance. The 6 tastes consist of Sweet (most grounding and nourishing), Sour (awakenings thoughts and emotions and improves the digestive process), Salty (stimulates digestion and increase absorption of minerals), Pungent (improves appetite, heightens senses), Bitter (detoxifying), and Astringent (mentally purify and strengthen). Although these are basic concepts of a much larger picture, I wanted to incorporate these ideas into the courses within the feast.
The second inspiration came from the Ain I Akbari, written during the time of the Emperor Akbar in the mid to late 16th century during the Mogul influence in India. The Ain I Akbari was documented by Akbar’s royal vizier,Abu’l-Fazl ibn Mubarak, as an administrative accounting of the areas of India under Emperor Akbar’s reign. The versions of 3 volumes that I studied were translated from the original Persian language to English in the late 19th century by several scholars within the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Colonel H.S. Jarrett and H. Blochmann, M.A in Calcutta, and published by Harvard University, .
I was so excited when I found these volumes, given the amount of information that was directly related to my concept and had not only numerous detailed references and accounting on specific foods and even recipes, but also eating etiquette, rituals, what they fed the military and beasts of burden, proverbs, honestly too much to mention in one sentence. There were so many that I had to create the following spreadsheet to even attempt to gather my thoughts into something that could be transformed into feast documentation or a class, which was my second end goal outside of the feast.
This is a constant work in progress, but had to share my process and the information I have gathered to date. This information has and will continue to directly influence most if not all of my feast menu and ingredients.
Enjoy and check back for updates as I go along.