Lent 2024: 7 Indian Dishes To Enjoy During The 40-Day Period

The 40-day period of Lent – a time of mourning and austerity for Catholics all around the world, involves giving up on everyday pleasures for the duration. While disciplines like prayer and charity form the crux of the observance, food also plays a crucial aspect of sacrifice. Luxuries like meat, sometimes fish and eggs, as well as alcohol are often avoided during this time – with many members of the community opting for vegetarian equivalents or limiting the consumption to seafood and eggs. Within the East Indian, Goan and Mangalorean Catholic communities, legumes and pulses take centre stage during these penance meals that are as delicious.


A dry, salad-like preparation, the kismoor is traditionally made using dried shrimp and often features as one of the elements in a fish thali meal. For Lent, Goans swap the shrimp with ingredients like tender jackfruit, raw bananas or cluster beans – which are stir fried with onions, red chillies, grated coconut, tamarind and turmeric powder; and eaten as an accompaniment to dal-rice.

Mooga Gathi

A delicacy from Goan temple cuisine – the mooga gathi or moogache gathi is a curry made with sprouted green gram cooked in a red chilli and coconut gravy. Reserved for special occasions, the preparation is usually enjoyed alongside puris, sannas (toddy rice cakes) or steamed rice. Devoid of onions and garlic, the gathi is a phenomenal example of sattvic cooking within the cuisine – an aspect that isn’t typically associated with Goan food.

Jackfruit Indyal

Belonging to the East Indian community of Mumbai, the indyal or vindaloo as it is popularly known, gets a vegetarian counterpart with the usage of pulled raw jackfruit instead of pork. What also sets the indyal apart is the usage of bottle masala – a spice blend that is native to the community, made using over 45 different spices.

Bilimbi Curry

A gravy dish hailing from Kerala, the bilimbi is a mouth-puckering green fruit that is cooked in a flavour base of dry spices ground to a paste with coconut and garlic. Eaten with appams or rice, the bilimbi curry is an underrated recipe that utilises the tropical fruit that is also found in states of Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka. Another counterpart of this curry – the bilimbache sasav – also treats the fruit in a similar manner, but with a touch of coconut vinegar.

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Goan Catholic Cuisine; A Fusion Of Indian And Portuguese Flavours


This beloved deep-fried bread that is considered to be an East Indian staple, is made with a leavened dough. Crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside, fugiyas are typically enjoyed as a snack. With a mild sweetness, these fried breads are also famously paired with spicy curries or eaten with a generous sprinkle of dry chilli-garlic chutney on top for extra flavour and contrast.

Pesaha Appam

A type of bread prepared by the Syrian Christian community in Kerala, the pesaha appam – also referred to as the Passover bread – is a common feature in homes of the people. Prepared using a combination of rice, urad dal, shallots, coconut, garlic and spices, the savoury, unleavened bread is served with an accompaniment known as paal – a sweet gravy of coconut milk, jaggery, cardamom and dry ginger, which is thickened with rice flour.


For those who avoid eating preparations that include too many spices, this Kerala-style rice gruel is as austere as food consumption during Lent can get. Eaten with a chammanti – a thick coconut paste ground with shallots and red chillies, as well as cherupayar – moong cooked with coconut, the kanji is considered to be nourishing and satisfying as a meal to consume during supper.