Our research

We held a Food in the Trenches event to share some of our research on the food eaten by South Asian soldiers. Here you can read our mini-exhibition posters, see pictures of the daily ration available to a vegetarian soldier during WW1, and let your mouth water over some of the food sent to soldiers from India.


This is the amount of food allotted to a vegetarian South Asian soldier daily. It includes milk, gur, tea, lentils, atta, potato, and dried chilli, turmeric, ginger, garlic and salt.

What would you like to know?

What did South Asian soldiers refuse to eat during the Siege of Kut?

What foods did South Asian soldiers miss when they were fighting far from India?

What’s ‘rooty’ and did British soldiers like it?

How was the Royal Pavilion in Brighton adapted to suit South Asian soldiers’ dietary requirements?

What did you miss?

We made and tasted pinni, a Punjabi treat which families sent from India to their men at war. It’s a dense, sweet, energy-rich snack which must have made a delicious change from the day-to-day diet.


WARNING! It takes a long time to make – about 5 hours. A real labour of love.

Pinni recipe

1 kg – atta (wheat flour)
500 g – desi ghee (clarified butter)
500 g – chinni (granulated sugar)
3 tbsp – milk
3 tbsp – assorted dry fruit (like badam (almonds), piste (pistachios), kishmish (raisins), slivered

  1. Heat ghee in a large heavy-bottomed pan.
  2. Add flour, stir-fry on low heat.
  3. When the flour is evenly browned and aromatic, remove from heat.
  4. Spread contents of pan on to a plate, allow to cool.
  5. Add sugar and dry fruit.
  6. Mix very gently, but thoroughly.
  7. Use milk as the binding mixture as and when required.
  8. Shape into ping pong-sized balls immediately OR
  9. Allow to cool, then shape.