Old Cooking Books from India

A piece of cake sitting on top of a wooden table

Every culture has a varied and deep food history. Food is the ultimate reason to live and the ultimate aid to live. Cooks from all over the world have put in their love and secrets and penned some amazing recipe books. Here we have a collection of the best and the oldest cooking books from Indian cuisine.

Charaka Samhita

A group of fruit and vegetables

Penned in the 6th century CE, this book has text mainly written in Sanskrit. It has exclusive information on medicine and surgery and contains a delightful collection of recipes for healthy living.  The entire series of 8 books have 120 chapters in all and they together contain elaborate recipes for health problems, diseases and ailments. A few chapters are dedicated to dietetics. You can find interesting recipes for Khichadi, Supa, Takra, Vesavara and more. 


A book sitting on top of a wooden table

This book was authored in the early 12th century and has recipes written in Sanskrit language. This book was composed by King Someshvara III, a king of present day South India. There are 5 sub-books of this with a total of 100 chapters. The 3rd sub-book is called ‘Bhartur Upabhogakarana’ and it contains veg and non-veg recipes. A lot many recipes in this book include fermentation of flour and cereals. You can also find non-veg dishes made from pork, goat meat, venison and fish. The book also contains recipes to make wine from grape or sugarcane.


Penned by Giyath Shah, the ruler of Malwa, this cookbook from medieval India contains various recipes and delicacies that can be literally translated to ‘Book of Delights’. You can find recipes for vada, samosa, kadhi, raita, lassi, dal and more. You also find recipes of some fancy dishes of today such as soup, kebabs, meat stew and Biryani. 

Soopa Shashtra

This book was written by Mangarasa III, who was a staunch follower of Jainism. The book contains various recipes that are strictly vegetarian. The ingredients and cooking instructions are explained in detail. You can also get in-depth information about the type of ovens and utensils needed. There are recipes for sweets, snacks, kheer, rice dishes and more here. You can also find some interesting recipes made from rice, eggplant, banana and bamboo shoots.

Ain-i-Akbari’(1590), ‘Alwan-e-Nemat’ (17th century) and ‘Nuskha-e-Shahjahani’ (17th century)

These books were an important referral guide in the famous Mughal kitchens of those days. There were many fancy and exquisite recipes that are described elaborately in this book. The ‘Ain-i-Akbari’ has many recipes that were popular amongst the elite people. ‘The Alwan-e-Nemat’ contains 101 recipes that were cooked during the era of the ruler Jahangir. The ‘Nuskha-e-Shahjahani’ has many Pilaf recipes that were made during the era of Shah Jahan.

 These old cooking books are a priced possession in India even today and they are preserved with pride in important museums in India. These books showcase how our ancient rulers took pride in cooking diverse and exquisite dishes.

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