Kargil Vijay Diwas 2023: Know More About The Diet Of Our Jawans

As we celebrate the victories of our soldiers on Kargil Vijay Diwas each year, the applause for bravery thunders in our hearts. Our soldiers are constantly at work to keep the peace around our borders and live in extreme conditions to keep going. Often times, whether these men are actively in a war zone or performing monitoring duties, conditions around them are not always favourable enough to have access to fresh food. Eating to survive becomes a primary instinct usually and food is eaten as a means to sustain oneself.

To get an overview of what our jawans eat on an everyday basis at an army base, the meals are mostly calorie-dense and heavy on carbohydrates. Working long hours by physically exerting themselves and the need to keep warm while faced with harsh climates means that breakfasts are mostly comprised of dishes like puris, potato sabzi, egg gravies and spiced potato chips. Similarly, lunch and dinners have proteins like paneer, chicken or mutton added in with the usual staples of rice and rotis.

When not stationed at the base and having to spend time on-field, MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat), that include preparations like suji halwa, aloo-matar sabzi and pulao are utilised as meal options. Pre-packaged and only needing to be reheated, these meals are portable and easy to carry, needing very little paraphernalia to assemble, as opposed to what it would take to cook a meal from scratch. That said, soldiers in migration usually stock up on raw food like rice and lentils, that can be cooked at pit stops while taking rest at the end of the day.

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Due to the extensive and extreme demands of their duty, soldiers are also encouraged to keep hydrated with water and electrolyte drinks. They are also known to enjoy a drink of locally made alcohol or rum, on occasion, along with special meals being prepared for them in military kitchens for special days and festivals. In an active battle situation, soldiers are often times provided with dry packaged food like saltine crackers and shakkarpara (mildly sweet deep-fried snack), which they can stash away in their bags, once ammunition has been loaded.

When Kargil war veteran and Shaurya Chakra awardee Rakesh Sharma was asked about what the soldiers ate to survive, during the time he served in the army, in an interview, he also mentioned the soldiers using mobile kitchen vans that each battalion was assigned. These kitchen vans would make use of raw materials to cook meals, however, were rarely assigned to the jawaans during peak war time. These vans continue to exist even today and are used wherever it is possible to set up a kitchen.