chapter  4
36 Pages

Palatable Fictions

Negotiating Narratives of Consumption and Subalternity in Jaspreet Singh’s Chef
WithRakhshan Rizwan

This chapter analyzes Jaspreet Singh’s novel Chef, and argues that this novel is a South Asian food narrative that uses visually appealing and exoticized representations of Kashmiri foodways in order to establish a relationship between human rights, consumption, and pleasure. The Kashmiri culinary landscape is examined in this chapter by using examples from regional cookbooks and films, in an effort to imagine the contentious space within which Singh plots his novel. I argue that Chef uses regional culinary customs primarily to highlight the differences between the access to pleasure and enjoyment that is on offer to citizens as opposed to ‘subaltern citizens.’ In this chapter, I make a critical addition to Ananya Kabir’s articulation of Kashmir as a “territory of desire” by demonstrating how, in addition to films, Kashmiri food and food narratives have also played a significant yet unacknowledged role in expressing India’s desire for Kashmir. Kashmiri food and its representations on tourism websites, recipe books, food festival pamphlets, and literary narratives also betray signs of this desire and enable the framing of Kashmir as a consumable and desirable entity.