Posts for Food Category

On the Fruit Trail of India

Blog, Food - GoroadTrip - June 24, 2015

When you take a bite of an apple or peel off an orange, do you wonder where they come from? Which part of India are they grown, how much they have travelled before finding themselves in your fruit basket? Almost every state in our country is home to one or morevarieties of fruit and specializes in its cultivation. Orchards, vineyards and fruit groves of our country produce some of the finest varieties of fruits which are supplied not just to India but many parts of the world.

The abode of some fruits in some states are:

Apples, Himachal Pradesh:

Kotgarh in Himachal Pradesh is known as the Apple Bowl of India. The apple orchards run for several acres and are about 80 kilometres from Shimla. Walking through the orchards dotted with red apples, breathing in the apple scents that are mixed with pine from the surrounding forests makes you forget the rest of the world.

Oranges, Maharashtra:

Known as the orange city, Nagpur is famous for its mandarin oranges. Recently awarded with the geographical indication (GI) tag for the use of the name ‘Nagpur Orange’, this variety is exclusive and sought after the world over. While you pick a box of these juicy oranges, spend a lovely time in this green city of India which is also our country’s winter capital.

Pomegranates, Maharashtra:

Yet another fruit that the state of Maharashtra is home to, in Solapur, is the red and pearly pomegranate. Solapur not only cultivates the fruit but also conducts research on it in the National Research Centre.

Alphonso Mangoes, Maharashtra:

Widely popular as ‘Ratnagirihapus’ this king of fruits is grown in the port city on the Konkan coast, Ratnagiri. Alphonso mangoes are the most superior variety of mangoes and hence the royal title. No summer should pass by without a taste of this delicious golden yellow fruit!

Pineapples, West Bengal:

The Bidhannagar area in Siliguri, Bengal, is the largest area growing pineapple.Siliguri is located at the foothills of the mighty Himalaya and the banks of River Mahanadi. Enjoy biting into delicious chunks of the native juicy fruit while you take in the beautiful scenery of the Mahanadi River and the Himalayas.

Bananas, Tamil Nadu:

Although the top position keeps hopping between states, the highest number of bananas are produced by Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and several other states. It is no wonder that India is the largest banana producing country in the world.

Papaya, Andhra Pradesh:

Along with sweet orange, Anantapur in AP, is one major fruit production area. Anantapur is earning the distinction of being the fruit bowl of AP and flourishing with the launch of National Horticulture Mission.

Guavas, Uttar Pradesh:

If oranges are Nagpur’s pride, Guavas are Allahabad’s. Owing to the many distinct varieties of guavas grown here, Allahabad is often referred to as ‘The City of Green Gold’.

Custard apples, Telangana:

Also called Sitaphal, this favourite fruit of the people of Karimnagar, Telangana are grown in large quantities on hillocks and small forest areas.

Grapes, Maharashtra:

Nashik, known as the ‘Grape capital of India’, produces more than half of the total grape cultivated in India. The grapevines are spread at the foothills of the Sahayadri. The climate and location results in the freshness and juiciness of the fruits and is therefore in great demand around the world.

Strawberries, Maharashtra:

Popular for berries, Mahabaleshwar is an ideal location to grow them owing to the hilly Western Ghat ranges present in the place. The favourable climate and hilly terrain grows the best strawberries, pink, sweet and juicy.

Litchis, Bihar:

Known as the Litchi kingdom of India, Muzaffarpur is famous for its Shahi litchis. Muzaffarpur is responsible for the export of the fruit to almost all the big cities in India.

Peaches, Kerala:

Kanthalloor is famous for a wide variety of fruits, especially peaches. This place is on the eastern side of the Western Ghats and the cool climate is ideal for the cultivation of some of the best varieties of fruits.

Plums, Himachal Pradesh:

Best grown in cooler climates, the plums are the pet fruits of northern states like Himachal, Uttrakhand and Jammu and Kashmir.

Pears, Jammu and Kashmir:

Primarily grown in Jammu and Kashmir, pears also grow well in Himachal Pradesh. Since the fruit can adapt to subtropical temperatures it is also grown in the states of Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.

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Filter Coffee

Blog, Food - GoroadTrip - April 9, 2015

The beverage is also referred to as Mysore or Mylapore filter coffee or Madras kaapi. The authentic, true blue kaapi is ‘Kumbakonam degree coffee’..everything else is ‘okay’ or tolerable!

In the rest of the world, ‘filter coffee’ is the drip brew coffee that comes out of a machine when you press a button. The filters are thin sheets of paper placed in a cone and the coffee is brewed. In South India when you say “Filter coffee or kaapi” that can only mean Kumbakonam coffee from the agri town of the same name in Tamil Nadu, India.

Kumbakonam degree filter coffee is not just any run of the mill beverage. It is a ritual, an experience..it is a tug of emotion, a reminder of Home and Mum…all brewed and served in a dabbara tumbler. The brass or stainless steel container adds to the mystique of Filter kaapi, the phonetic rendering of “coffee”.

The one distinctive feature of this cup of ambrosia that smells of heaven is the pure cow’ s milk without any adulterants and no addedchicory.

Why ‘degree’..is it a campus recruit or a weather indicator, you may ask? The term is explained in four ways:

1. Chicory is a common additive that is used to thicken the basic decoction of the coffee. It was colloquially pronounced as ‘tikeri’ that eventually morphed into ‘degree’. OR

2. Milk was certified as pure after it was measured with a thermometer that would show if water had been added to adulterate the milk. So, coffee prepared with pure/degree milk became known as degree coffee.

3. The first decoction, the unadulterated thick essence of the coffee, is called the first degree decoction. Thus, the best cup of coffee was named ‘degree coffee’.

4. Pundits say that it is actually ‘Decree’ not ‘Degree’ Coffee! A 19th century tale is told of a British Collector of Thanjavur District who liked the coffee served by a local cook in Kumbakonam. He is supposed to have ‘decreed’ that only this quality of coffee should be served to him on all his travels!

The coffee pundit who buys the seeds, usually the man from Mylapore would ask for a mix of arabica and robusta coffee beans in a particular ratio of 60:40 or 70:30 (less chicory). The coffee is grown in all the states of South India. You can visit plantations on the hills of Karnataka (Kodagu, Chikkamagalur and Hassan), Tamil Nadu (Nilgiris District, Yercaud and Kodaikanal), Kerala (Malabar region) and Andhra Pradesh (Araku Valley).

The beans used to be roasted in a cast iron wok or a cylinder made of iron placed over coals. Today it is roasted in temperature controlled ovens or rotisseries. The coffee pundit will freshly grind the seeds into a coarse but fine powder for each make of the decoction. In coffee powder shops, the beans are ground fresh with or without roasted chicory. The final coffee powder is packed into a special filter.

South Indian coffee is brewed with in a special metal filter,. It is made up of two cylindrical cups. The upper one has fine holes drilled into it to let the decoction seep through. It nests into the lower containerthat will hold the brewed coffee. The upper cup is fitted with a press made up of a colander like disc with a central stem handle and a lid to keep the aromas in.

The upper cup is filled with freshly ground coffee. The grounds are then tamped down with the stemmed disc. Boiling water is poured and quickly the filter is covered. The decoction drips into the lower vessel and then 1–2 tablespoons of it areadded to freshly scalded milk. The coffee is frothed by pulling it between the tumbler and the broad mouthed flat dabbara and served at sipping temperature. People use their sari ends or dhothi and over-the-shoulder towels to hold the tumbler as they imbibe their filter coffee.

India Coffee Houses run by the Coffee Board of India since the mid-1940’s were the propagator of coffee. These coffee houses also became the meeting places for literary types, artists, thinkers and political aspirants.

Coffee is an essential part of the culture and lifestyle of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. It gained popularity during the British rule. Coffee was originally introduced by Baba Budan to South India in the 17th century. In the 16th century, a Sufi saint from Karnataka,Baba Budan, was on a pilgrimage to Mecca where he was introduced to the wonders of coffee. He managed to smuggle out seven coffee beans by hiding them in his garments out of the Yemeni port of Mocha. Back home, he planted the beans on the slopes of the Chandragiri Hills in Kadur district, Mysore State. This hill range I now named after him as the Baba Budan Hills. You can pay your coffee obeisance to his tomb that is a short trip away from Chikmagalur.

The best filter coffee in South India does not cost a great deal if you are having the authentic one…forget the Starbucks and the 5 Star cup and saucer serve. Have a hot dabbaratumber of filter kaapi!!

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