When talking about the area of food-meets-faith, people might think of what’s known as bhog, or food specifically offered to Gods – but that’s a narrow outlook and quite frankly unfair to both cuisine and religion. There’s more to the picture: how faith can inform the food of a community and, surprisingly enough, how food can in turn influence faith.

[On Sabbath] after the lighting of candles and the evening service at the synagogue, the meal begins with breaking bread (challah) dipped in salt while reciting the Kiddush over a cup of wine... The first course is Aloo Makallah with Hilbe, Zalata (cucumber salad), with Mahashas (stuffed vegetables) and roast chicken. It is often followed by simple pulao eaten with a curried dish of meat, like fish or chicken in Chitanee.


  • 6-8 pieces of chicken (thigh, drum or wings)
  • 4 tomatoes, pureed
  • 3-4 yellow onions, diced finely
  • 2-3 red chillies, chopped
  • 3 tbsp tamarind liquid
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • Water, as needed
  • Lemon juice, as needed


  1. Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the onions, adding the garlic, ginger and chillies once they start to brown.
  2. Next, add the cumin and coriander powders. When the spices become fragrant, but haven’t yet browned, add the tomatoes and tamarind liquid with the salt and sugar.
  3. As the mixture thickens into a paste-like consistency, add 3/4 cup water.
  4. Once the gravy comes to a boil, add the chicken and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 10–15 minutes.
  5. Remove the lid and allow some of the moisture to evaporate so that the gravy can thicken.
  6. Squeeze a lemon on top and serve hot with rice.
Varud Gupta

Varud Gupta

Varud Gupta was bred for the business world until an existential crisis sent him travelling through the culinary cultures of the world. It was while doing odd jobs as a cheesemonger and asador that his journey as a writer began. His first book, ‘Bhagwaan ke Pakwaan’, which won two Gourmand cookbook awards, was a travel narrative through the faiths and foods of India. His graphic novel ‘Chhotu’, a coming-of-age story during Partition, represents the culmination of the first chapter on this existential path.

See more
Devang Singh

Devang Singh

Devang Singh majored in history and worked as a Dell marketing manager before returning to school at the Light and Life Academy to study photography to capture everything from the finest food to rampaging lone tuskers. He now runs StudioFry, a production house in Delhi, where he is a director and EP of projects for global brands like Budweiser, Zomato and Nissan.

See more