Latest News

  • Home
  • Food & Health
  • 5 Lesser-Known Food Cultures Around India We Bet You Didn't Know About
5 Lesser-Known Food Cultures Around India We Bet You Didn't Know About
04 February 2019 IST
5 Lesser-Known Food Cultures Around India We Bet You Didn

I truly believe food and faith share a beautiful relationship in forming communities, small and big, in every nook-and-corner of India. The influence of both these elements in our social structure is strong and undeniable. I had always known this. However, recently I got my hands on Bhagwaan ke Pakwaan: Food Of The Gods by Varud Gupta and Devang Singh and I must admit, I learnt how dishes are developed and influenced by religion. It's amazing how food can tie communities together, almost to an extent that it becomes a tradition of sorts through generations.


Bhagwaan ke Pakwaan is a cookbook-cum-travelogue that explores our country's culinary heritage and takes us beyond the concept of bhog (food offered to God) whilst introducing us to various lesser-known food cultures that revolve around faith. Read on to find out more. 
1. Rice Beer & The Karbi Tribe Of Meghalaya
The book traces the food culture of the Karbi Tribe of Meghalaya and explains how food plays a pivotal role in their faith and community at large. One of the staple foods of this tribe is the rice beer, which is also considered as one true food of the gods. To the Karbi people, the offering of the rice beer and meat represents their gratitude. 
Rice is an integral part of the Karbi culture and is cooked with multiple proteins including pork, buffalo, chicken, fish and insects. Additionally, bamboo is also a prime ingredient in their cuisine and lifestyle - it's eaten, cooked in, fermented in, constructed with, burnt as fuel and used as a container to drink rice beer from. 
Local dishes that caught our attention: pork and greens, fish cooked in bamboo and cicada chutney. 
2. The Soul Food Of Udvada
When it comes to Parsi food culture, the small town of Udvada on the coast of Gujarat has always been the centre of Zoroastrian faith and community. One of the most interesting food traditions of this community is, in fact, the Zoroastrian death ceremonies conducted in four parts - Baj, Afringan, Farokshi and Stum. However, the offering isn't made to any god or fire, instead the food is offered to the soul of the person who has passed. Of course, strict procedures and specific ingredients like wheat, rose, sandalwood, milk and copper are used to fuel the souls in the cycle of salvation. This is just one part of the Parsi food culture. 
The broader principle of the Parsi cuisine is khaatu-meethu-teekho or sour-sweet-spicy flavours for a balanced yet holistic experience. Over the years though, the cuisine has adopted multiple influences from across India - the local Gujarati food, a bit of Portuguese touch from the Goan cooks in Parsi households and Anglo-Indian influences from Bombay - the food culture is vast and versatile in the community.
Local dishes that caught our attention: Boi ni macchi, akuri and papra & bakhra
3. The Fading Community Of Kolkata's Jews & Shabbat
During their travels in Kolkata, Varud and Devang document what is left of the Baghdadi Jews of the city, a community that has gone from a few thousand to twenty over the centuries. What remains today is the memory of the times gone by, heard and remembered within the majestic synagogues on Park-Esplanade and of course, the food that's keeping the traditions alive. 
One such food culture that continues to exist amongst the Kolkata Jews is the meal on Shabbat, a day of rest and reflection that begins on nightfall on Friday and continues until nightfall on Saturday. 
The Shabbat feast usually starts with breaking bread (challah) dipped in salt and drinking a cup of wine. This is followed by a course of Aloo Makallah with Hilbe, Zalata (cucumber salad), with Mahashas (stuffed vegetables) and roast chicken. Later, a simple pulao is eaten with a curried dish of meat or Kubba, which is rice dumpling stuffed with meat and cooked in stew. 
Local dishes that caught our attention: Aloo makallah, mahashas and chitanee


4. The 56-Course Mahaprasad Of Jagannath Temple
The rituals inside the Jagannath Temple in Puri, will make you question if Jagannath is a man, or a god or a celeb. Jagannath has a set routine to follow everyday, much like you and I - Waking up, brushing, showering, relaxing and eating six well-defined meals comprising 56 dishes. 
The first meal known as the Gopal Ballav Bhog is the breakfast at 9.00 AM after Jagannath changes and showers. This traditionally consists of Peda, Kora, Dahi and assorted fruits. 
This is followed by Madhyam Bhog or the mid-day meal, the Sandhya Bhog or the evening tiffin at 7.00 PM and finally, the day concludes with Badasimhar Dhoop in which a number of items are offered, including pure ghee in a silver container. 
Local dishes that caught our attention: Besar, potol paneer and malpua
5. The Breakfast Of Champions At Kye Gompa
One of the prime food cultures amongst Tibetan monks is the grand breakfast combination of butter tea and puk. The butter tea, the writer describes, as a divine dish that's buttery and salty, prepared in a gargantuan pot using salty tea leaves, fresh milk and pure butter. Puk, on the other hand, is made by adding sattu to the butter along with ghee and sugar, and kneading it into a dough-like substance.
Like any other food cultures, this breakfast too, is surrounded by religious influences. It is said that the chai is first offered to the hungry ghosts that wonder the monastery. However, this warm and fatty meal also helps the monks survive the winter months. 
Local dishes that caught our attention: Mutton momos and thukpa
You know the two best things about this book? The spectacular photos and recipes of dishes towards the end of every narrative. I love how the book not only takes me on a culinary tour, but also pushes me to experiment with diverse cuisines and whip up a storm in the kitchen. I am going to go and plan my family dinner for tonight (maybe, Parsi?) and if you're wondering where to get this book from, click here.  


Related Topics


Trending News & Articles

12 Early Signs Of Lung Cancer To Never Ignore

Lung cancer is usually not noticeable during the early stages. Most people are diagnosed when the disease is at an advanced stage. According to, it is ...

Recently posted . 6K views . 2 min read

11 Surprising Benefits Of Wood Apple Or Bael Fruit

The health benefits of wood apple include [1] relief from constipation, indigestion, peptic ulcer, piles, respiratory problems, diarrhea, and dysentery. It also b...

Recently posted . 4K views . 2 min read

10 Amazing Benefits Of Bael (Kaitha)

Bael, also known as the “Wood Apple”, is a species native to India. The bael tree is considered to be sacred to the Hindus. A famous drink known as sh...

Recently posted . 4K views . 2 min read

These 7 Remedies Can Remove The Milia (Milk Spots) From Your Face

Do you know what milia are? Milia is a skin condition which causes the appearance of small white hard bumps on the skin which usually appear on the face, neck or ch...

Recently posted . 3K views . 2 min read


More in Food & Health

ADHD Symptoms in Teens Linked to Excessive Smartphone Use: Study

Could teenagers suffer symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder after engaging in excessive smartphone use?

Recently posted. 688 views . 0 min read

This 2018, How You Can Try to Put Fitness First

The golden rule for anyone who wants to bring exercise back into their life is to gradually increase the level of intensity and make sure you practice regularly, ...

Recently posted. 726 views . 1 min read

Decoded: Why women get heart attacks later than men

The team looked at lipids absorbed from the diet and made in the liver.   London: Although women develop coronary artery diseas...

Recently posted. 840 views . 2 min read

Top 10 Best Home Appliances Brands in India 2019

Recently posted . 1K views . 152 min read

McDonald’s to start cutting antibiotic use in its global chicken supply from next year

McDonald’s house on Wed aforesaid that it might begin edge the utilization of the high price human antibiotics in its international chicken offer in 2018, bec...

Recently posted. 843 views . 19 min read

Navratri: Why Is Haldi (Turmeric) Omitted From Vrat Foods? Here's The Facts

Highlights   • Chaitra Navratri 2019 began on Saturday, April 6th and ends on 14th

Recently posted. 1K views . 2 min read



  Thought of the Day

The only reason you are happy is because you choose to be happy. Happiness is a choice, and so is suffering.

Be the first one to comment on this story

Post Comment
Shibu Chandran
2 hours ago

Serving political interests in another person's illness is the lowest form of human value. A 70+ y old lady has cancer.

November 28, 2016 05:00 IST
Shibu Chandran
2 hours ago

Serving political interests in another person's illness is the lowest form of human value. A 70+ y old lady has cancer.

November 28, 2016 05:00 IST
Shibu Chandran
2 hours ago

Serving political interests in another person's illness is the lowest form of human value. A 70+ y old lady has cancer.

November 28, 2016 05:00 IST
Shibu Chandran
2 hours ago

Serving political interests in another person's illness is the lowest form of human value. A 70+ y old lady has cancer.

November 28, 2016 05:00 IST

Back To Top