History of Indian Food

 The holy cow and 1857 Indian rebellion against the British

Within the history of Indian food, the sanctity of the cow became so great that each one of them is said to possess 330 million deities. Shiva is connected with the nose and his sons the nostrils, while the tail belongs to Sri Hanar, the goddess of cleanliness…

It was because of this divine nature of the cow and Muslims aversion to pigs, that the native Indian troops rebelled against the British. The story goes like this:

(1857 Rebellion by the Indians against the British)

In mid-1800s, the British East India Company, who controlled India, armed their native Indian troops with cutting edge machinery called the Enfield rifle. The secret behind this latest technology was the grease that encased the rifle’s bullets. The soldiers had to bite off the bullet’s tip before loading it into the rifle. This super-grease was made from pig and cow fat, the two animals sacred or taboo to every native in the subcontinent…

The officers explained to the British. If we touch the bullet, we will become Untouchables. The East Indian Company officials, thinking they were silly, did not heed their concerns, causing a revolt throughout the region.

As the soldiers rebelled, British East India Company retaliated with heavy casualties afflicted on women and children. To give the natives a "lesson" they will remember, British officers sewed up Hindu soldiers in cow carcasses and left them to suffocate. The 1857 rebellion, better known as the ‘The Mutiny’ from English perspective, was so pervasive that British government took India away from the Company and made it a member of the British Empire.

Interestingly, the Indian rebellion would have succeeded in overthrowing the British had the native soldiers used the new rifles against their occupiers.


  1. Fernandez-Armesto, Felipe. Near a Thousand Tables: A History of Food. The Free Press, 2003.
  2. Tannahill, Reay. Food in History. Three Rivers Press, 1988.
  3. Montanari, Massimo. Food is Culture. Columbia University Press, 2004.

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