There are some dishes that are inextricably linked to specific parts of the world. In fact, those who take their gastronomy seriously can get quite fussy over the details of where a recipe or drink may have originated from and the implications it might have regarding the taste and flavour. Take champagne for example. Beloved the world over, this celebratory fizz is oft considered the creme de la creme of sparkling wines. However, to give itself the name ‘champagne’, the drink simply needs to have come from the region of France for which it is named.
It’s a similar story with Greek yoghurt. You may have noticed the dairy shelves at supermarkets stocked with tubs of ‘Greek style yoghurt’ as, unless it originates from Greece, it can’t be called Greek yoghurt even if it follows the recipe.
So, which foods and drinks are protected by the geographical indication system in India? What should you be looking out for to enjoy that authentic Indian experience? Here are a few of our favourites:
1. Darjeeling Tea
One of the first Indian products to get protected by geographical indication was the delicious and world famous tea of Darjeeling. This region of Indian is renowned for its excellent tea-growing climate and the variation of Darjeeling tea will delight even the most ardent tea lovers. From black and white to green and oolong, Darjeeling tea can only be named Darjeeling tea if it is grown, produced and processed in the tea gardens of West Bengal. Never mind the story that Indian tea plantations were the result of stolen tea seeds from China – Darjeeling tea soon became one of the biggest exports of the sub-continent. And the quality of the product must be protected.
2. Dharwad Pedha
India is famous for its lively, vibrant festivals. And one of the key elements of any Indian celebration is an assortment of delicious sweets. From Holi to Diwali, each celebration sports its own favourite sweet treats that are associated with the event, but there are some that are more famous in India than others. One of these treats is the luxurious, melt-in-your-mouth pedha and one of the top places to sample this decadent substance is Dharwad in Karnataka. These bite-sized fudge-like sweets are created from thickened milk and plenty of sugar – one is never enough.
3. Hyderabadi Haleem
Hyderabad is renowned for its street food and one of the most popular, traditional options is a steaming bowl of classic haleem. This thick meat and lentil stew was brought to India by the Arabic conquerors that ruled the sub-continent for many years. Indian spices were added to the original recipe until the flavour became distinctly Indian whilst remaining true to its roots. Hyderabadi haleem is unique in that it was the first non-vegetarian dish to be protected by the geographical indication system. Truly an authentic taste of India for those that enjoy their meat.
For an authentic Indian meal here in the UK, make your way to one of London’s best Indian fine dining restaurants and enjoy the innovative yet traditional menus on offer.