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OP: Cooking of the Maharajas

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by Shivaji Rao and Shalini Devi Holkar

From earliest times, until India achieved its independence in 1947, many areas of the subcontinent existed as quasi-independent princely states; there were 565 of them at the time end of the British colonial era. Most were quite small, others—such as Kashmir, Mysore, and Hyderabad—were kingdoms as large as many current countries. The rajas, maharajas, nizams and other rulers of these territories were noted for their luxurious lifestyles, sparing no expense hiring the finest chefs for their palaces, acquiring the costliest ingredients, and setting some of the most elegant tables in the world.

Maharaja Shivaji Rao of the central Indian state of Indore, who adopted the post-Independence name of Richard Holkar, adjusted better than many to the changes of the period. With his wife at the time, an American woman named Sallie Budd—who was deeply interested in the food and history of these many princely domains and later took the name Shalini Devi—Shivaji Rao began to collect recipes and, with them, the stories of a number of the great palaces and their kitchens. 

In 1975, they produced this cookbook, providing recipes, anecdotes, and histories for nearly twenty principalities, offering lively accounts of their vanishing cultures. It attracted favorable attention, but it was definitely a book before its time, and relatively few copies were ever printed or sold. In recent years it has gained momentum as the valuable resource it truly is. 

This copy is a first printing in Very Good condition with a Very Good dust jacket, showing minor chipping about the edges. A substantial volume, it is liberally illustrated in black-and-white, which, with its historical photographs and handsome two-color design, strikes us as having been just the right choice.

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