Chitrita Banerji

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Chitrita Banerji is one of the very few Indian food historians in the world. She specialises in Bengali cuisine, and is also an author, novelist and translator. Her work explores the relationship between memory, history, culture, religion and food.[1]


Banerji was born in 1947, and grew up in Calcutta (now Kolkata). Although she originates from West Bengal, she spent seven years living in Bangladesh (formerly East Bengal), thus developing a strong perspective on the distinct traditions of both parts of Bengal. Her love of reading inspired her to become a writer; and her mother's cooking and the food rituals associated with her family's Hindu faith influenced her writing.

At the age of 20 she went to Harvard where she did her Masters in English.[2] She has settled in USA since 1990, and currently resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts.[3] She has maintained strong a connection with India, travelling there regularly.


Banerji has written for a number of publications, including the New York Times, Gastronomica, Gourmet and Granta. She has also presented papers at the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery. [1]


Banerji has written several books on Indian - particularly Bengali - food, articles, short fiction, longer fiction (novels) and translations.

Banerji is a formidable figure in the study of regional Indian food. She is the author of several books, among them Life and Food in Bengal (later published in an abridged version as Bengali Cooking: Seasons and Festivals), Eating India, The Hour of the Goddess, Feeding the Gods, and Land of Milk and Honey. Talking to her, it’s abundantly clear how much the twin subjects of food and India captivate her. She avidly shares stories about her travels and discoveries, punctuating anecdotes with wiggles and circumflexes of her impressively arched eyebrows. Apart from the breadth and depth of her study of “Indian food”—a meaningless term for a cuisine so variegated and regional, she tells me—Banerji is remarkable among food writers (Indian and otherwise) for her frank and penetrating approach to food.

Food Books[4]

  • Life and Food in Bengal, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1991
  • Bengali Cooking: Seasons & Festivals, Serif, 1997
  • The Hour of the Goddess: Memories of Women, Food, and Ritual in Bengal, Seagull Books, 2001. Paperback edition by Penguin Books, 2006. New edition titled Feeding the Gods, published by Seagull Books, 2006
  • Land of Milk and Honey: Travels in the History of Indian Food, Seagull Books, 2007
  • Eating India: An Odyssey into the Food and Culture of the Land of Spices, Bloomsbury, 2007
  • Contributor: The Oxford Companion To Sugar and Sweets, OUP USA, 2015

Awards and Honours[edit]

In both 1998 and 1999 she received an "additional award" in the Sophie Coe awards for writings on food history.[5]


Further reading[edit]

  • Banerji, Chitrita (5 September 2007). "Poor Calcutta". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-06-29. 
  • Rajagopalan, Meera (August 1–15, 2007). "Tracing taste". India New England. Retrieved 2009-06-29. 
  • Majumdar, Anushree (11 February 2008). "Kitchens of India". Express India. Retrieved 2009-06-29.