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
- Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the onions, adding the garlic, ginger and chillies once they start to brown.
- 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.
- As the mixture thickens into a paste-like consistency, add 3/4 cup water.
- Once the gravy comes to a boil, add the chicken and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 10–15 minutes.
- Remove the lid and allow some of the moisture to evaporate so that the gravy can thicken.
- Squeeze a lemon on top and serve hot with rice.