Food

The Ultimate Crowdpleaser: Matar Paneer

The Ultimate Crowdpleaser: Matar Paneer

“I have lost count of how many times I have made khichdi in quarantine,” Priya Krishna posted on Instagram in mid-April, and pretty soon after, we could say the same in our house. The vegetarian, pantry-friendly rice and mung bean dish became so universally loved, it was clear that we needed to pick up a copy of the New York Times and Bon Appétit writer’s cookbook, Indian-ish

It’s my favorite kind of cookbook, the kind where the recipes are so interwoven with the author’s family kitchen that it’s impossible to resist pulling up a chair right alongside them, ordering spices (like asafetida) and driving to markets a few towns over to procure ingredients you might not find at your local grocery (like paneer). Krishna grew up in Dallas, and the word “Indian-ish” describes her mother’s cooking, i.e. “60 percent traditional Indian, 40 percent Indian-plus-something-else, mostly vegetarian” as well as her identity, “part of two worlds but never fully part of one.” The book itself is effectively a love letter to her mother, Ritu, a full-time working mom who grew up in India, moved to America, traveled the world as an airline software programmer, and brought all she learned back to the family dinner repertoire. In spite of Krishna’s current culinary pedigree, you can tell that none of these recipes were dreamed up in a studio or at a test kitchen. “The dishes in this book are specifically built to be an accessible entry point into Indian cuisine,” she writes. “Mainly because my mom is busy, and does not have the time to slave away at the stove all day.” I love them mostly because they’re everyday dishes, geared towards everyday working kitchens…

…like mine! I dove right in, and immediately landed on her Matar Paneer, which Krishna describes as “the ultimate party dish.” Traditionally the mild-flavored paneer is fried, but from her mother, Krishna learned it’s much more balanced when the cheese simply simmers in the tomato sauce. About that sauce: LOOK AT THE COLOR — when you whirl the spiced tomatoes in a blender with ghee (or olive oil) it turns the most resplendant orange. And I used regular old Roma tomatoes from the supermarket — nothing heirloom or peak-season. (Krishna says even in the middle of the winter, it’s better to use fresh tomatoes than canned ones.) Next up: Chickpea Flour Green Beans, Pesarattu (lentil pancakes), then Priya’s Dal because it looks so easy (she recommends making it in an Instant Pot) and because, as she writes, eating it with rice “brings me the deepest level of joy.”

Matar Paneer
As soon as you cube the paneer, put it in warm water until you are ready to cook it—this will make sure it doesn’t dry out. Just be sure to drain it before adding it to the pan. Also, ghee is available in most supermarkets, but to make your own: “Melt a stick of butter over medium-low heat in a medium saucepan, turn the heat off, skim the white stuff off the top, and you’ll be left with pure ghee.” Serve with rice or roti. (Serves 4)

¼ cup + 2 tablespoons ghee or olive oil, divided
4 green cardamom pods, or 1 teaspoon ground cardamom (freshly ground is best)
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh ginger
1 small Indian green chile or serrano chile, halved lengthwise and stem removed
7 medium Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon asafetida (optional, but really great)
1½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more if needed
8 ounces paneer, cut into ½-inch cubes (1 cup; see note)
1 cup fresh or frozen shelled sweet peas
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro (stems and leaves), for garnish

In a large skillet over medium heat, warm ¼ cup of the ghee. Add the cardamom and coriander and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute, until they have lightly browned. Stir in the onion, ginger, and chile and cook until the onion is translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Increase the heat to high, add the tomatoes, and cook, stirring, until the tomatoes are wilted, 5 to 6 minutes more. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

Transfer the cooled tomato mixture to a blender and blend into a chunky sauce—it should resemble baby food. If the mixture isn’t blending well, add a few drops of water to get it going. Set the sauce aside.

In the same pan over medium-high heat, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons ghee. Add the cumin seeds and cook until they turn a medium shade of brown, about 1 minute max. Reduce the heat to low and add the bay leaves, turmeric, and asafetida (if using). Pour the sauce into the pan, add the salt, and mix well. Add the paneer, peas, and 1 cup water, cover, and cook for 10 minutes, or until the peas are warmed through and have nicely comingled with the paneer and Serve sauce. Taste and adjust the salt, if needed. Garnish with the cilantro.

P.S. A veggie burger for the whole family and the best masala chai.

(Excerpted from INDIAN-ISH: Recipes and Antics from a Modern American Family © 2019 by Priya Krishna with Ritu Krishna. Photography © 2019 by Mackenzie Kelley. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.)

  1. Anna says...

    Late to the party, but I made this last night and it was great. If anyone is intimidated by the unusual spices, or the grinding, or anything, don’t be. With respect to Priya, cooking is flexible. My spices were old, I had spices, non seeds… I used garam masala in place of cardamom, canned tomatoes, and queso fresco in place of paneer (hi from Texas!), and it was delicious.

  2. Holly says...

    Made this recipe tonight and it was stellar!

  3. Karli says...

    This is one of my favourite cookbooks!

  4. V says...

    Growing up, when my mom wanted to make easy paneer dishes for a large crowd (75+ people summer backyard gatherings :), she would get pressed ricotta from the Italian deli! Not only cheaper, but it’s closer in soft texture and creaminess to homemade paneer than the chewier grocery-store paneer usually is – highly recommend!

  5. Hi! I love this idea! I’m always sharing Indian recipes with friends and struggling with where to send them to get the spices. Will def refer them to your site. Also, let’s chat about getting more stores on the East Coast involved. I live in NYC!

    • A & P says...

      We would love to connect, Toral…Drop us a note at easydesi.online@gmail.com :)

      What a truly amazing platform CupofJo is to help meet like-minded women like you!

  6. Rue says...

    I’m white and Jewish but grew up being cared for by family friends who are from India, and my first experiences participating in home cooking were at their house over many years of childhood. It’s an odd experience to have muscle memory for a cuisine that isn’t my own. I’ve been going back to Indian cooking in the last few months and expanding my technique and recipe base. The worst part is knowing that there’s a ton I don’t know, but it’s so satisfying and comforting to make excellent versions of recipes from childhood, and there is a lot I do remember from the years spent in my “aunt’s” kitchen. I spent years in adulthood relying on restaurants as my main source for Indian foods, and even great restaurant food doesn’t scratch the same itch as cooking at home. So happy for the success of this cookbook!

  7. Angharad says...

    So… I made this this weekend and I don’t know where I went wrong but it was the worst recipe I have ever made. I’ve literally just this moment finished scraping the entire pan into the bin. I am absolutely sure it was me and not the recipe but I am so disappointed, I could cry! I thought it would be a smooth and comforting veggie dish but my version was claggy, thick and so bitter! And so many coriander seeds gave it the texture of gravel! I tried adding tomato puree for sweetness, then in desperation adding coconut milk to thin it out and make it less baby puree-ish, but the taste was still like rancid vegetables with the texture of baby vomit. (My vegetables definitely weren’t rancid in advance, for what it’s worth.) My husband drove ten miles for paneer as well! I live in England and eat Indian food all the time but seriously, about ten quid’s worth of food just went in our kitchen bin. I am so disappointed!

    • RBC says...

      Angharad, I am so sorry for your kitchen fail, but I want to send you many thanks for this vivid description which was the hearty laugh I needed tonight. Sending love from Canada and I hope your next attempt goes better (but please write about it if it doesn’t!)

    • Santwana says...

      Angharad, so sorry to hear that! Please don’t lose heart and not give up on my amazing cuisine entirely. If you are looking for an alternate source for vegetarian Indian recipes please do check https://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/. I am not at all related to chef/author Dassana and don’t know her personally but her recipes with step by step instruction/pics are so precise and great. I am indian and decent cook still I check her recipes and everything I have tried just comes out great

  8. Love Priya’s recipes + Matar Paneer is most definitely a party dish when served with warm buttered garlic naan or hot fluffy rotis!

    Some here have asked for Paneer…so a shameless plug to a website that we created (both of us women :) ) the day California announced Shelter-in-Place! https://easydesi.online/ Our service helps people do FREE pickups from independent “desi” grocery stores and restaurants. So when you want to buy asafetida or paneer or desi mangoes, you know where to go :-) It will also give you a chance to discover your local desi grocery store!

    All of the stores on easydesi.online carry Paneer. There are several brands including ones made from milk from grass-fed cows.

    p.s. Our sincere thanks and love to the Cup of Jo team for embracing cultural diversity, and making each one of us feel loved.

  9. Mattie says...

    Anybody else in the DC area have a good source for paneer? Everytime I try to make it myself, my house smells like burnt milk for a week. :(

    • Peekiesmom says...

      Whole Foods usually carries it, but I’m in Michigan

    • Terry says...

      I googled this because I’m also in the DC area. There’s a Patel Brothers in Hyattsville and an A1 India in Arlington.

    • Kate says...

      I often use the queso fresco from whole foods! I’ve had bad luck buying paneer but the queso fresco is a similar mild sturdy cheese and I think it tastes better than the paneer they sometimes have in stock.

    • Michelle B says...

      I found some at Costco!

  10. Jenny says...

    100%

  11. Alice says...

    This sounds delicious. I actually made mattar paneer this weekend, for my boyfriend’s family! We use the Dishoom recipe- their cookbook is INCREDIBLE (Dishoom is a group of restaurants based on the “Irani cafes of Bombay”- their term, not mine- here in the UK). It involves making a base tomato-onion masala which takes a good 90 minutes (because you’re caramelising 1.2KG of onions- we have to wear swimming goggles for all the chopping!), but is SO worth it, because it makes way more than you need and it keeps brilliantly in the freezer. Then you add garam masala, cumin, paneer, peas, and cream when you’re ready to cook- and it’s so SIMPLE! Their Chicken Ruby (name based on the cockney rhyming slang “ruby murray”= curry) is next on my list…

    • Rachel says...

      How strange I just made some of Dishoom’s tomato-onion masala yesterday for their kidney bean dish – I agree that its time consuming but so worth it! I’ve been in a cooking rut so actually picked out recipes from Dishoom and Priya’s Indianish book to try this week and its really gotten me back into loving being in the kitchen! Great to see Priya’s work on CoJ, she’s a fantastic writer and recipe developer!

    • Abby says...

      Dishoom is my absolute favourite restaurant in London! I was wondering if their cookbook was good since cookbooks by restaurants can sometimes be a bit of a sell out. Is their legendary 24h Dal in there too?
      I bought Meera Sodha’s “East” this January and am in L O V E with it. I have never made so many recipes out of one single cookbook. Big plus: they are all vegetarian and vegan but have all of the complex tastenotes and spiciness of non-vegetarian food from all Asian countries (ranging from India to Malaysia to Korea to Taiwan) while being super attainable. Her writing is also wonderful and absolutely on point. She always writes two descriptions of when something is finished: 1) description like “should look crispiy golden brown” PLUS 2) time like “this should take three minutes while the pan is super hot”. HIGHLY recommend!

    • K8 says...

      WHAT? Dishoom has a cookbook? I had my favorite meal of 2019 there when I took a trip to London last summer. I still have dreams about their black dal and hot chili chicken. Ordering NOW! Thanks

    • Meg says...

      The Dishoom cookbook is amazing! I have been cooking my way through it since COVID struck. It is full of “project” recipes that require some time but have massive payoff. The Chicken Ruby is my favorite so far (made with paneer instead of chicken). I plan on picking up a copy of Priya’s book as well!

  12. jeannie says...

    This sounds delicious!

  13. Kate says...

    Her book has been my holy grail of cooking for the past year! I love Indian food and have struggled to make it in the past, but Priya Krishna makes her recipes foolproof. My favorite is her palak paneer made with feta! The only dish that can get me licking spinach out of the bowl :)

    • Anna says...

      Ooo palak paneer is my favorite! I can imagine it with feta and want some right now!!!

  14. Stella Ray says...

    I absolutely LOVE Priya and her PARENTS!!! I swear by her Dad’s method of cooking rice (as seen in the first few chapters of the book), I’ll never go back.! Microwave basmati for lifeeeee!

  15. Raquel says...

    “8 ounces paneer, cut into ½-inch cubes (1 cup; see note)”

    @Jenny – I don’t see the note in the post? Thanks in advance!

    • Lili says...

      above ingredients:
      “As soon as you cube the paneer, put it in warm water until you are ready to cook it—this will make sure it doesn’t dry out. Just be sure to drain it before adding it to the pan.”

  16. K says...

    this is too much flavor and color and coziness for me to compute!

  17. Ramya says...

    I love Priya and Indian-ish! The best recipe I’ve tried from it so far is the red bell pepper, potato & peanut sabzi – on my regular repertoire now, and I’m Indian-American (incidentally I also grew up in Dallas) !

    • Kyli says...

      OMG. Yes, that recipe is SO GOOD!

  18. Steph says...

    I buy the Amy’s brand frozen mattar paneer very often, and often wondered if I could make at home. I have never seen the cheese at the store, but am so encouraged now to make my own. Great post, love the comments too. Thank you.

  19. E says...

    Oh, this was so much fun to see today. I’m studying Hindi this summer and I just finished reading my first book (I mean, it was a 12-page children’s book but it was a book that I read from cover to cover sooo…). And it was about peas (matar)! Then I come to Cup Of Jo and see a recipe I can actually make with matar. How weird. Going to make this!

    • CL says...

      Hi E! I have also been trying to learn Hindi – on and off for a year or so! Are you taking classes? Or self taught? Would love to hear more about helpful tips and tools on your learning journey!

      Also if any fellow Cup Of Jo followers are also trying to learn Telugu let me know ;)

    • Corrie says...

      @CL Do you have any tips or resources for learning telegu?? I’ve been meaning to start for so long but every time I even look at the alphabet I get little overwhelmed.

    • E says...

      Hi CL, I’d be happy to share! I don’t want to clog up the comments with tons of recommendations about language study so shoot me an email: e3davenport@gmail.com

    • CL says...

      @Corrie – Sorry I am just seeing this. I wasn’t given notifications if/when people responded. I unfortunately don’t have any great Telugu resources. The Mango app offers Telugu – so it’s a good starting point. And I think it may be free if you have a Library card. I have two Telugu books and they have been less than helpful. I by-passed the alphabet and went straight to pronunciation. My personal opinion is that I don’t think you don’t really need to know the alphabet unless you plan to live in AP or Telangana (or want to read Telugu news).

  20. Julie says...

    I have this cookbook, highly recommend!! Love the saag paneer with feta.

  21. Katie says...

    I first learned about her through an alumni newsletter from my high school. We went to the same high school, though I preceded her by… a number of years ;)

    I love this cookbook. I am a huuuuge fan of the sweet cardamom yogurt dish. So easy and so delicious.

  22. connie chung says...

    love priya and this delish looks so good and doable!! please post more recipes like these!!

  23. Em says...

    Love Priya’s book! I pre-ordered on Amazon awhile back. Such amazing and delicious recipes, Feta Sag Paneer is on rotation with Aloo Gobhi. Her mom and dad are The Best!

  24. pearl says...

    Long time reader, first time commenter. Thank you SO MUCH for featuring a woman of color who is writing recipes that pay tribute to her mom and their heritage. Yes, that is shade at the nytimes and every other institution that hires/pays/amplifies white food editors to make “foreign” food more accessible. Thank you for highlighting Priya, especially in light of all the racist practices and the racist culture that is now being publicly aired about bon appetit/conde nast. I’ve purchased this book and cant wait to try all the recipes – you’re awesome, Priya!!

    • Liz says...

      Yes x100!!!

    • Barbara says...

      I third this comment!

  25. Amber says...

    Her saag feta is amazing!! When I first made it I was temporarily dairy & soy free, so I used chickpeas instead of feta. I imagine people could do the same here. So much bright flavor. Her book is a gem. Her instagram (Seth bakes! Nightly cocktail hour while she was quarantining with her parents! Her dad’s cheese plates!) is also a gem.

  26. Jess. says...

    Reading cookbooks like novels has been a way for me to de-stress during the pandemic (and . . .all my life), and Priya’s cookbook did not disappoint. And her Insta is amazing, but when she was quarantining with her parents, it was next-level comforting. Best family! Best food! xox

    • Julia says...

      I read cookbooks in the morning, while I’m eating breakfast (which is, inevitably, something totally non-dairy, like oatmeal). I figure it’s better for my anxiety AND digestion than reading the news first thing…

    • Julia says...

      Note: I meant non FANCY. My phone autocorrects in unhelpful ways.

  27. Hali says...

    Ah!! You know when you see a cookbook and you just know it’s going to fit right into your home?? I studied abroad in Tamil Nadu in college and as a born and raised vegetarian, was in HEAVEN with the wider vegetarian standard there. I’d go to bed excited to wake up in the morning so I could keep eating. I brought home a few copies of the classic Cook and See books to try and make the food at home but in true India elusive fashion, I couldn’t make sense of the recipes. I’m so excited to cook from Priya’s book! Looks a little more like my culinary speed. Thanks for sharing!

    • Charlotte says...

      I love this: “I’d go to bed excited to wake up in the morning so I could keep eating. ” Made me smile :)

    • Savitha says...

      Hali, to see a reference to “Cook and See” on CoJ is warming my heart to the next level (I brought the Tamil version of those books with me when I moved to the US 20 years ago). Have you watched any of Taste the Nation on Hulu? There’s an episode called Don’t Mind if I Dosa that made me feel seen like no other food documentary has. And in honor of my South Indian heritage (my family is very blended, and I’m the only Indian/ South Asian), I’ve been cooking very Tamilian meals during the quarantine. Last night was rice, rasam, cabbage poriyal, pachadi – and of course, ghee, pickle, appalam, and curd!

    • Hali says...

      Ah the idea of a quarantine with traditional South Indian food sounds… so… comforting. I think I’ll order from my favorite south Indian restaurant this weekend and watch Don’t mind if I Dosa, then, with greasy fingers from a dosa the length of my coffee table. Thank you for the rec!

      Actually, after posting that comment I googled Cook and See to check for any web presence and it appears there’s a website that is a more approachable. The english translated Cook and See books I have are hilariously frustrating. They assume I know so much that I don’t know. Gosh, I imagine your cooking is incredible, I’m comforted by the thought of it! I think I’m going to fish out out my idli cooker from the depths of my cabinets and start shaking up my breakfast routines… I’m genuinely so happy right now, haha. How had I not thought of this before? I was just starting to get very tired of cooking at home… now I have books and inspiration again! xx

    • CL says...

      Hali! I love your comment “in true India elusive fashion, I couldn’t make sense of the recipes.” My now husband is South Indian. On his first trip home while we were dating, he bought me a cookbook. We made one of the recipes one night and I remember saying to him, ” I feel like things are missing. Like they are skipping steps.” The meal turned out terrible! But we still laugh about it till this day – and that was 8 years ago! Glad to hear I am not the only one!

    • Savitha says...

      Hali,
      The Tamil Cook and See (Samaiythhu Paar) books are hilarious too in how much they assume the reader knows. The recipes work for me only because I can supplement them with memories of my mom and grandmother making those dishes thousands of times. Enjoy your dosa :-)

      If you like Indian cooking and are looking for inspiration, another of my favorite cookbooks is Vibrant India by Chitra Agrawal of Brooklyn Delhi fame. Thanks to her, I have learned how to make the dishes of my childhood adapted for my blended family and California lifestyle. Chitra’s dishes are more south India (her family is from Karnataka) 

    • Daisy says...

      Incidentally, it is Idli/Dosa week at my home. I just made the batter this weekend and was mentioning to a friend how this grinder of mine made a trip from India 16 years ago when I came to the US for Grad school. Those were days when Air India allowed 70 kgs baggage allowance for students and I had to get the Grinder adapted for 120 volts to use in US. Priya’s books/ cooking style seems to be more suited for those who are beginners to Indian cooking. Anyways, I am glad that she is popular and successful.

    • Hali says...

      Many thanks, Savitha! I’ll keep Vibrant India tabbed for after I’ve made my way into Indian-ish. I just took a peek at it and it looks brilliant.

      My culinary inheritance is making mushroom gravy and millet loaf, eggless chocolate cakes, cauliflower mac and cheese, red lentil pasta sauce, salty crumbly scones from the ritz cookbook: basically 70s veg food. It’s wonderful but lends absolutely nothing to my efforts in Indian cuisine. I love thinking about generational learning in the kitchen, it’s so beautiful and indescribable. To be honest I don’t do the Indian cooking in my house, my husband does. He gets his recipes from the internet which is fine, they usually taste great, and he gets a lot of joy in sourcing spices and peppers for them. I think I always step back because I have this sense that I’ll never really be able to make what I’ve eaten in India and the thought of trying overwhelms me *because* of Cook and See!? I’m hoping this is the start of more inspiration and encouragement. I really love the family element of Indian cooking, a narrative cookbook makes so much sense for that too. Been so nice to connect with you! x

  28. Colleen S says...

    I love paneer, so I’m keeping this recipe on file.

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      Oh wow I didn’t know she did that, so cool. Thanks for posting — off to read now.

    • Claire says...

      Love Texas Monthly. Thanks for sharing this link.

  29. Genevieve says...

    Thank you Jenny for posting this recipe. I’ve historically been beyond disappointed in the recipes from Cup of Jo over the years, which have focused primarily on (white) American/Euro-influenced food (and many of which have been boring IMO), and is a major reason I hardly read this blog anymore. I like healthy food, but come on, mix it up! The blog preaches diversity but it hasn’t reflected in the blog’s recipes up until this point. So I’m happy to see the blog is branching out more, and more importantly pays homage and gives context to the original cuisine. Also, this looks delicious and haven’t tried this before, so can’t wait to make it sometime! I really hope to see way more diverse food recipes on Cup of Jo.

    • Amber says...

      I have historically been super uninterested in the food posts on this blog as well, but mostly because there are so many blogs out there dedicated to recipe development, with people working full time to develop and share recipes, that it felt kind of unnecessary here, and like CoJ was trying to be everything for everyone. Now that Jenny is here though, I think the food posts make more sense (I love the ones comparing different store bought sauces, etc), but the recipe feature is still my least favorite given the sea of great food blogs I also follow.

    • Emily says...

      Just wanted to chime in to say I really enjoy the recipe features! I don’t follow any other food blogs so I like getting a small taste on this Cup of Jo. Thanks Jenny for your fantastic food coverage.

    • Anna says...

      Wow, Genevieve, what a snarky comment. Translation: I’m too woke and worldly for your boring food! It sounds like something a rude teenager would say to their mother.

      As it goes I’m also not always crazy about the CoJ recipes, largely because of the American cup measurements they often feature (I’m in England and too lazy to do the conversions!) but they’re usually just accounts of tasty things the blog writers have eaten at home. Are you honestly here to police people’s kitchens? If I was Joanna I’d be saying, get your free content elsewhere!

  30. Maggie says...

    I absolutely love cooking and eating Indian food and am a big fan of paneer dishes. Will have to try this one out (and purchase that cookbook, which I’ve been hearing great buzz about!).

  31. suki says...

    “. . .traveled the world as an airline . . .
    software programmer.”
    Loved reading that line in such a domestic post because I was fully expecting it to read, “airline attendant”, lol. Feels good to see the progress women have made so casually and practically woven into a kitchen recipe – finally.

    Also isn’t paneer super easy to make at home? I thought all you need is a gallon of milk and a few lemons, something everyone can get. Because even though my small town does actually have an Indian store, they don’t sell paneer, presumably because it is so easy to make at home.

    • I’ve never made Paneer but I have subbed Extra Firm tofu in many recipes and have been happy with the results.

    • Kate says...

      Yes, paneer is SO easy to make! You need a gallon of milk, about 1/4 cup of vinegar, and cheesecloth.

    • Tess Williams says...

      This is blowing my mind!! I’ve been looking for paneer all over the place in stores and it somehow never occurred to me to make it. Thank you!!

    • Shanze says...

      this is ‘delhi’ recipe but my mom always makes paneer by bringing a gallon of milk to a simmer, adding a yoghurt carton plus dried mint/salt/coarse ground black pepper & cayenne and letting it curdle. Then she hangs it from the kitchen faucet in a cheesecloth. Sigh- i can’t wait to see her and make it with her when its safe to do so.

  32. Rusty says...

    Y.u.m.

  33. Maia says...

    Dropping by to state that contrary to popular belief, more than 70% of Indians are meat- eaters- in the south of India, this is close to 90%- 95%.

    The above is a great recipe and the comment is quite tangential to the post I realise, but too many chefs and authors that have created the impression of a vegetarian India and I am happy to help break that misconception. (Also because vegetarianism in India, unlike other parts of the world has a very troubling, ugly caste-based history that not many people outside the country speak of).

    • AE says...

      Love this. You taught me something today!

    • Savitha says...

      100% agree with Maia! I’m South Indian and grew up and lived in India/ Tamil Nadu until I was 20; people are always surprised when I tell them that my family not only ate meat, but we even ate beef. On the regular (it was, and I think still is, the cheapest meat in India.)

      The reason for the misperception that the majority of Indians are vegetarians is because the people, stories, and versions of India that traveled abroad were the more elite Hindu ones as opposed to the ‘folk’ (read lower caste/ lower class) ones. CoJ readers might be interested in the writings of Themmozhi Soundarajan, who unpacks some of these issues.

    • K says...

      this is so interesting to me.
      most all the american-born indians i met growing up were mostly vegetarian, was this because families who were fortunate enough to immigrate were usually part of higher castes back in India? But often when I met Indians who immigrated to the US post high school, they ate all sorts of meat as well.

      I also just read this article yesterday: https://homegrown.co.in/article/803216/dalit-identity-and-food-memories-of-trauma-on-a-plate?fbclid=IwAR3Gu2XgcaH6SnjBx0kUH-_lZ3HKHRCch0neBAWD0071aKxdYT2lMovboms

      I had no idea that vegetarianism was tied to castes.

    • CL says...

      Hi Savitha! Which of Themmozhi Soundarajan writings do you recommend?

    • Savitha says...

      K: Yes, I was using ‘elite’ as a gloss for ‘upper caste’, and the Indians who traveled abroad tended to be from the higher castes, although not uniformly so, and that has led to certain misperceptions about what ‘mainstream’ India is really like.

      CL: Here’s a recent piece by Thenmozhi Soundararajan in the Black Lives Matter context that I found especially compelling:
      https://wearyourvoicemag.com/south-asians-for-black-lives-a-call-for-action/?fbclid=IwAR3ojN5J7QDRKYTvOugpKcT0eaBT2FI5PLLFy1oiYIM6jlEi6ArfpkxftPo

  34. celeste says...

    Chicken tikka masala is definitely one of my favorites and I will try this one too. The book sounds great!