Say what you will about 2017, but it’s been a great year for food. From record-breaking creations to fierce battles over GI tags, Indian culinary creations have been grabbing headlines for a number of reasons.
Here’s a light-hearted look at the gastronomic highlights of 2017!
1. Khichdi Creates a Record
Food often tends to reflect the history and culture of the land where it was first created and khichdi is a prime example of this. Essentially a fragrant potpourri of rice, lentils and spices, this mellow dish can be found in kitchens all over India in various avatars.
In 2017, the much-loved comfort food made it to the Guinness Book of World Records. Celebrity Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, with the help of over 50 volunteers, prepared a whopping 918 kilograms of khichdi in a custom-made kadhai (wok) with the capacity of 1000 litres. Prepared in front of a live audience at the World Food India 2017, the khichdi was then distributed to about 60,000 people by Akshaya Patra Foundation and the local gurudwara.
In the run-up to this mammoth feat, rumours began to float that the dish would be declared India’s national food. Twitter erupted in a storm of one-upmanship between the for and against khichdi brigades. Secret family recipes were dug up from all corners of the country and doctors spoke about the many benefits of this humble dish.
Debates also raged about why khichdi couldn’t be considered a single dish as every state had its own version, from Tami Nadu’s Pongal to Bengal’s Bhoger Khichuri. However, all this was put to rest after the Union food processing minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal came forward to quash the rumours through Twitter!
2. Litti-Chokka Competes With Global Delicacies
What Chole Bhature is to Punjab, Litti Chokha is to Bihar. A quintessential Bihari dish, this earthy treat (baked baati paired with spicy chokha made of grilled baingan-alu) is revered as much for its simplicity as for its delicious taste. From bowling over Aamir Khan to gaining a fan following in foreign countries, this classic combination has wowed foodies for ages. It did the same in 2017 too.
At the International Food Festival hosted by World Streetfood Congress in Manila (capital of Philippines) this year, litti chikha gave tough competition to New York’s red hook lobster pound, Mexican taco and Thailand’s most popular street food, Sukiyaki (a mixture of glass noodles, egg and seafood).
Darbhanga-born street vendor and Litti expert Dinesh Kumar was selected to represent India under the banner of National Association of Streetfood Vendors of India (NASVI) at the five-day event. Furthermore, the deceptively delicious dish also played a starring role at the Bhojpuri food festival curated by Pallavi Nigam Sahay as well as in the memorable ‘Stand on the Street’ performances that were a part of the 2017’s Serendipity Arts Festival.
3. Biryani Gets A Stamp and an Anthem
India offers so much on its culinary platter but the one dish Indians unanimously love indulging in is the mouth-watering biryani. And this held true for 2017 as well — according to the order analysis from popular food ordering and delivery platform Swiggy, Biryani was the most ordered food item this year.
And that’s not all. Biryani also got an anthem and stamp of its own in 2017! Immortalising the historic dish of Hyderabad’s trademark cuisine, the Department of Post issued stamps with photographs of the traditional Hyderabadi biryani (along with Baghare Baingan and Seviyan) in November, 2017.
As for the “Biryani Anthem”, it was created by comedians and die-hard biryani fans, Ahmed Shariff, Praveen Kumar and Sanjay Manaktala. Set to the tune of the Ed Sheeran’s popular song “Shape Of You”, the parody song got 2 million views in just 24 hours!
4. “Sweet” Battle Over Rosogolla Comes To a Close
From the bylanes of Kolkata to the temple town of Puri, rosogolla remains one of India’s best-loved culinary inventions. The Bengalis stake their claim on it. The Oriyas believe it’s their invention. And the world cannot seem to have enough of the luscious sweet.
Over the past few years, Odisha and West Bengal have been battling over the origins of the rosogolla. While Bengal claimed that the delicacy was invented in Kolkata by confectioner Nobin Chandra Das in the 1860s, Odisha government said it was invented in Puri in the 13th century.
In 2017, the legal battle between the neighbours has finally come to an end, with the coveted Geographical Identification (GI) tag on rosogolla being awarded to West Bengal on November 14, 2017.
However, it must be noted that the GI tag was for the “Banglar Rosgolla”, the quintessential Bengali version of the sweet dish. Odisha is now trying to get the GI tag for its version of the sweet, now called the “Jagannath Rasagola”. With both the parties accepting that a dish can have different versions with different origins, the debate seems to have come to a ‘sweet’ end!