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‘How the potato came to India and conquered our lives’

From foreign food to a pantry staple, the potato’s journey to India traverses thousands of kilometres and three centuries of culinary assimilation, writes Diya Kohli in this piece published by Conde Nast Traveller.

Consider the potato, Diya writes. Not just as knobby protrusions from the sack that is part of your end-of-the-world lockdown pantry. 

Consider the potato as a chameleon. It is an ingredient so plain that it takes on the flavours of whatever it is added to. It is also versatile enough to be reinterpreted for every meal of the day in a different form. 

Consider the universality of the potato. A successful potato crop can feed a nation. Consider the potato as the staple that miraculously extends a frugal meal. Cutting across the class and caste divide in India, a simple boiled potato becomes the staple that provides sustenance for those who can afford little else. 

The potato has travelled thousands of miles across land and sea and outer space to become India’s daily tuber, Diya Kohli writes. And in times of inflation, it is an upswing in potato prices that throw budgets off for all Indians, from a regular middle-class home to a street food vendor and an upscale restaurant. 

In the early days of lockdown, people in India stocked up in bulk. Primary among their list of pandemic staples—rice, dal and potatoes. A case in point for the unchanged promise of the potato—to sustain and nourish in good times and bad. 

Go here to read Diya Kohli’s great article on how the potato came and stayed in India.

Source: Conde Nast Traveller
Photo: Aloo Puri is a popular Indian breakfast item. Indian Food Images / Alamy Stock Photo

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher

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