Why Do We Feed the Dearly Departed?

This week on Proof, a story about soul food. Literally.

Published Dec. 2, 2021.

Nearly every culture known to mankind has rituals paying respect to the dead. Many of these rituals revolve around food—the idea that the dearly departed need to be satiated in their journey to the afterlife.

Buddhists leave fresh fruit and vegetables on altars. The Celtics leave a seat at the table for the departed during Samhain, the Gaelic festival/feast marking the end of harvest season. Americans may be familiar with "pouring one out"—typically something alcoholic—for a fallen friend.

This week on Proof, reporter Varud Gupta—author of the book Bhagwaan Ke Pakwaan: Food of the Gods—takes us to his native India for a story about soul food ... of the literal kind.

Listen to this episode on your favorite podcast player.

Sign up for the Notes from the Test Kitchen newsletter

Our favorite tips and recipes, enjoyed by 2 million+ subscribers!

Photo: Gabriel Perez, Getty Images

These six recipes are among our all-time favorites. Start a free trial to access all these, plus our other home kitchen–tested, foolproof recipes.

This is a members' feature.