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Martha G. Newman, Chair BUR 529, Mailcode A3700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-232-7737

Spring 2006

R S 341 • Culture of Food in India-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
43475 M
5:00 PM-8:00 PM
PAR 303

Course Description

This course aims at examining the origins, customs, and social and economic implications of food in South Asia. This includes distinguishing native origins of food from food imported after the onset of the European presence in the Indian subcontinent (after Columbus and Vasco da Gama). The course also inquires into the customs of food and eating which are governed rigidly by notions of purity and pollution. The course starts with scrutinizing textual sources. The social and economic issues are observable already in the earliest texts, such as the Atharvaveda. Fear of hunger stimulates poets to voice their appreciation of the earth, the nurturer, the provider. Also from the Vedic period onwards, the staving off of hunger led some of the upper class members to become temporary robbers. Food has been used as pharmaceuticals. Students will learn about remedies for ailments as well as for cosmetic improvements as tradition handed them down, especially among women. For economic issues, the course also addresses the impact of the Green Revolution implemented in the 1960's and some of the comtemporary questions over Monsanto forcing farmers not to farm ecologically as they usually did, but requiring them to buy new seeds which have been genetically modified every year. At the end of the course, we will organize excursions to the local food businesses. Reports from such excursion will be one of the writing assignments for the course.


Khare, R.S. (ed.) The Eternal Food. Gastronomic Ideas and Experiences of Hindus and Bhuddists.

Khare, R.S. & M.S.A. Rao (ed.) Food, Society and Culture: Aspects in Food systems of South Asia.

Achaya, K.T. Indian Food. A Historical Companion.

Zimmerman, Frances. The Jungle and the Aroma of Meats. An Ecological Theme in Indian Medicine.


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