Archives at the National Centre for Biological Sciences
Public Lecture Series
53rd edition
Monthly talks framed around explorations in and around archives. Discussions by artists, archivists, academics, lawyers, teachers, journalists and others.
Why do we eat what we eat?
The Archaeology, Anthropology, History, and Politics of Food
Kurush Dalal
Thursday, Feb 16 2023. 5:00pm.
Lecture Hall – 1 (Haapus), NCBS

After breathing and sleeping, both of which are involuntary, the action required to sustain life is eating. Eating consumes us and consumes a large portion of our days. The evolution of humans both physically and culturally is a direct result of this. The human animal eats a greater variety of foods than any other species on this planet. This is a survival mechanism and a sign of our curiosity and intelligence. All of the long archaeology and history of food studied by Culinary Anthropologists is driven by politics. Politics decide what we eat as much as geography, geology and biodiversity. Often these choices have no real basis of intelligence, yet again more often than not they are about domination.  Not a single aspect of our lives exists which does not involve eating and drinking. And yet, all our other aspects try to dominate and intrude into our eating habits.

The study of food is thus the study of human beings, human history, human culture and humanity itself.


Kurush F. Dalal is an archaeologist, a culinary anthropologist and a museum consultant.

He has a BA from the University of Mumbai, an MA in Archaeology as well as a PhD on the Early Iron Age in Rajasthan, both from Deccan College, Pune University. Subsequently he shifted focus to the Early Medieval Period predominantly on the West Coast of India and excavated the sites of Sanjan, Chandore and Mandad. These excavations and the data recovered have had a strong impact on scholarship in the region. Dr. Dalal also actively works on Memorial Stones and Ass-curse Stones in India and dabbles in Numismatics, Defence Archaeology, Architecture, Ethnoarchaeology and allied disciplines.

He has published over 40 papers and has read many more at National and International Seminars and has edited 5 volumes. He is a visiting lecturer at various Universities, Colleges, Schools and Government Institutions. He taught archaeology and allied subjects at the University of Mumbai for 10 years.

He runs a small catering business inherited from his mother the late Dr Katy F Dalal. He has blended his passion for food and archaeology into a research in Culinary Anthropology and Food Archaeology. He runs a very successful course called The Studying Food Workshop teaching food beyond the usual topics. He has made the most of the lockdown teaching via Instagram Lives and by teaching at various online platforms like Mythopia and INSTUCEN.