Two main influences govern the dietary customs of India, religion and the caste system. Caste is a social grouping or class that is associated with the Hindu religion. Although, technically it is not apart of Hinduism, it is a major aspect of the Indian culture.

The caste system comes directly from the sacred Vedas. These Vedas identify the different classes and the types of food that each class is expected to eat.

Tamasic foods include meat and fermented food and drink, such as breads, cheese, alcohol, and kimchi. People who are apart of the lower caste follow this diet. The majority of the foods on the Tamasic diet are spoiled or leftover food. It is believed that consuming the foods of this diet, produce feelings of anger, jealousy, and greed.

Rajasic diets include onions, garlic, spicy food, eggs, and fish. The middle castes are expected to eat these foods to stimulate intellect and passion. Strong emotional qualities and the sense of contentment are also attributed to the Rajasic diet.

Sattvic foods are mainly of a vegetarian selection, and include fruits, vegetables, and grains. This is the most desired food of all the diets and is geared toward the higher castes. The higher value of food on the Sattvic diet does not irritate the stomach and has a purifying effect on the mind.

The Brahman castes are the lower ranks of the Indian culture, there are certain foods that they are forbidden to eat. Meat and all meat products, including eggs, are top on the list of forbidden foods. Milk, yogurt, butter, and other milk products are an approved food but are difficult for the Brahman to obtain because they are expensive. Other restrictions include onions, mushrooms and caffeine.

Other dietary customs that are unique to India are more specific to religion, mainly Hinduism. It is believed that a true Hindu will not eat food that is not offered to God first. It is imperative to gain God’s blessing before it is put into the body. One way a person can do this, is to place the food before the spirit, then recite specific prayers. It then becomes blessed food.

Purification of a meal must also be performed before eating. A truly devoted Hindu will perform a ritual of sprinkling water completely around the plate, finishing the act of purification.

Celebrating a child’s birthday also has customs attached to it. Instead of candles being placed on the cake, a lamp is lit instead. This is symbolic of a new life, new beginning and the spreading of knowledge.

Many customs are associated with India. Dietary customs are just another way to show true worship and respect to God and the many different religions related to the region.

1. Etiquette of Indian dining
2. Indian Culture: Traditions and Customs of India – Live Science

A huge turkey on the table is the crowning glory of a Christmas dinner – magnificent and delicious with plenty to go round for all the family. There’s bound to be meat left over but, after turkey sandwiches or cold meat platters, what can you do with leftover turkey?

Turkey pie is a great meal for winter, and so easy to make. First, boil and then mash some potatoes (about two per person). Then make some white sauce by melting a tablespoon of butter with a tablespoon of flour, then bring to the boil while slowly adding one pint of milk, stirring all the time. Roughly chop up the turkey into bite-sized pieces and add it to the white sauce with a little salt and pepper. Put this into a deep, oven-proof dish. Spoon the mashed potato on top, until the turkey mixture is completely covered. Bake in a medium oven for about 30 minutes, until the top is slightly browned and the turkey completely heated.

Turkey curry is another great recipe, which can use up leftover vegetables as well as the turkey. Just throw everything into a large saucepan with a jar of curry sauce and bring to the boil over a gentle heat, stirring continuously. Serve with rice, naan or pitta bread.

Fajitas are more filling than they look and great as a snack or a main meal. Slice the turkey into long strips and fry with some fajita spices if you have them or some turmeric and chilli powder. Add some slices of red and green peppers and some onion. When the turkey is completely warmed through, spoon the mixture into the centre of a tortilla. Add some strips of lettuce. Fold over the two sides of the tortilla to make a little ‘pocket’ and enjoy.

Homemade pizzas are a perennial favourite with young and old alike. Make a base with 8oz flour to 2oz butter mixed to a dough with water. Roll out to the required thickness. Spread the top of the pizza with tomato puree, then add the toppings of your choice (kids love to do this for themselves!), including the diced turkey. As well as turkey you could use tomatoes, olives and cheese, and even leftover cranberry sauce. Bake in a moderate oven for about 20 minutes until the base is cooked.

Turkey is a great substitute for chicken in a traditional Coronation chicken dish. Just heat diced turkey with some curry paste, pineapple pieces and a splash of water. This can be used as a sandwich filling, in vol-au-vents or as an accompaniment to cheese.

With the very last of the turkey, why not make a delicious winter warmer : turkey soup. Also very easy to cook, just cover diced turkey meat and vegetables with chicken stock. Add a bay leaf, salt and pepper, and a tin of chopped tomatoes. Then bring to the boil. If you’ve leftover gravy, then add that too, or you may need to add a little cornstarch (cornflour) to thicken the soup.

With very little imagination, using the ideas above, you can whip up a delicious meal in minutes, which won’t feel like using leftovers at all; you’ll be buying an even larger turkey next year just to make sure there is plenty ‘left over’.


  1. Meat
  2. Meats & Foods – Washington, DC

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