One of the big attractions of India is that no two towns, even those just a few miles away from each other, are the same. The cooking of Andhra Pradesh, for example, varies from mini-region to mini-region. The coastal preparations in the Rayalaseema region and Visakhapatnam district are dissimilar. Just a few hours by train away from Visakhapatnam, the city of Vijayawada serves up a level of heat and spice that can make the smoke come out of your ears, and tears run down your nose. Hyderabad in the next state is influenced by the region’s centuries-old Nizami rule, and so the biryani is unlike any other in the country. The same goes for every town and every region in the country: meaning that in its plurality and diversity, a whole lifetime could go into sampling the meals of every single region, small town, and large city in India. The myriad communities drive the difference. So to know India’s communities, as intimidating an endeavor as that is, is to know India. Food tells stories of winners and losers, the oppressors and the oppressed. Of where nomads come from and the geography of the region. Thus, regional cooking can teach us a lot about the culture that shapes the land and the country it is a part of. So for this issue’s food special, we’ve decided to explore the regional cooking of India, through cookbooks! Each cookbook tells a story. Let’s dive in.