Rampur, a princely state under colonial patronage established by Rohilla Pathans in 1774 evolved as a cultural centre of north Indian Muslim culture. An important aspect of this cultural transformation was the curation of a ‘haute’ cuisine with the amalgamation of Awadhi and Mughal culinary traditions into Rohilla Pathan foodways. The latter was a meat-heavy, simple and predominantly tribal cuisine. This transformation and culinary consciousness is evidenced in the archival sources––in the form of cookbooks commissioned and collected by the Nawabs in the nineteenth century as well as historical writings in late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries––on Rampur’s cuisine preserved at the Rampur Raza Library. The study delves into the paratexts and voices of the archived recipes–– their language, authorship, motivation as well as cookbooks as aspirational models for the culinary practitioners at the royal court––using them as a lens into socio-political transformations. Recipes thus represent identity, continuity and social change; gastronomic power in the hands of the chefs, who carried their innovative recipes to their graves, as well as power and gastro diplomacy exercised by the Nawabs. The paper investigates the rise of the male ‘culinary connoisseur’, evidenced in the cookbooks, and their role in culinary reimaginations. The paper also addresses the voices of women, their role as repositories of cultural preservation and intergenerational transmission of sensual memories.
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