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Biryani, Mangoes, Chutney & Chai: Tracing India’s Food Habits with Drool-Worthy Maps

Here’s 15 maps that boast of delicious Indian food ranging from rasgulla to payasam, panipuri to pazham pori, and mughlai to malabar biriyani.

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I’m often confused when it comes to choosing between variants of my favourite foods. Like Malabar or mughalai biriyani? Masala chai or sulaimani? Every Indian foodie, like myself, find themselves in this conundrum where they have the luxury of choosing between the wide varieties of food the country offers. We need a food map!

With every region boasting its unique cuisines, we at The Better India have created a collection of ‘India in Maps’ to share the ‘big picture’ of our heritage and what brings us together as a nation.

1. Indian mithais map

Indian sweets have always been an integral part of Indian culture and diet. Be it a wedding, a birthday or a festival, a celebration always calls for mithais.

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From laddus to payasams, rasgullas to shahi tukda, India offers a wide variety of sweets from across the country that are diverse in their taste, texture, flavours and richness.

Here’s the Indian map tracing some of our favourite mithais.

2. Summer drinks map

What’s better than a refreshing drink to beat the heat this summer? Made from seasonal fruits, herbs and spices, traditional coolers are the perfect way to beat the heat on sizzling summer days.

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Every region in India has its versions, each perfected by years of experience and passing time.

Here’s the map tracing some of the best traditional summer drinks in India.

3. Winter food map

Winters call for staying indoors, all snuggled up under thick fluffy blankets, sipping a strong cup of coffee. It’s also the time you crave some yummy and warm food.

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Be it sweet or spicy, there are a wide variety of dishes that are specially prepared during the winters.

Here’s the map tracing some of the popular winter foods in India.

4. Pakora/bhajji map

Who doesn’t love a cup of steaming hot tea with a crispy and spicy pakora in the evening? A snack that is easily found in almost all corners of the country, pakoras or bhajjis come in a variety of versions.

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This versatile snack can be made using any vegetable, greens, fruits, fish or even meat and is packed with a mix of ingredients making it rich in flavours. Although the flavour changes according to region, the snack remains a favourite for every Indian.

Here’s how we traced the varieties of pakoras/bhajjis across India.

5. Chutney map

Chutney is not just a mere accompaniment for Indians, it is something that unites the country’s diverse culinary culture.
Served mostly as an accompaniment to rice, dosa or idli or as a topping for chaat, chutneys offer a burst of flavours in the mouth and elevate the taste and quality of the food we have.

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Here’s how we traced the varieties of chutneys across the country.

6. Biriyani map

Biriyani is more of an emotion than a food. It is surely one of the dishes that are equally loved across the country beyond generations and ages.

Cooked meat or vegetable on a bed of fragrant rice mixed with different spices could be defined as nothing but a celebration of flavours. Biriyanis also have different styles of preparations and servings depending on the regions. With over 100 variations, almost every state has a unique version of the mouth-watering Biryani.

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Here’s the map tracing the variations of biriyanis prepared across the country.

7. Bread map

Chapatis, rotis, kulcha, naan are a few varieties of bread that are made across the country. These bread have been an integral part of traditional Indian home-cooked meals.

Deceptive in their simplicity, these Indian cuisine essentials seem easy to make but they require a complex balance of textures and flavours.

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Here’s the map tracing different types of Indian bread.

8. Street food map

India is famous for its street foods due to its diversity across its regions. Be it Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru or any other city in the country, you could easily spot streets that are lined with vendors who sell different types of food ranging from full-fledged meals to snacks.

Indian street food, often spicy but delicious, is equally enjoyed by people of all generations and ages.

Here’s the street food map of India.

9. Chai map

An integral part of every Indian’s life, chai is undoubtedly the most popular drink in the country. Almost every household in India starts their day by brewing a hot cup of tea and it’s the same tea that unites the family in the evening over a plate of biscuits or pakoras.

But there are thousands of varieties of tea that are available across the world with their unique taste and even health benefits.

Here we trace the different varieties that are available in India.

10. Mango map

Everyone awaits the arrival of the mango season in India. Being a tropical paradise of fruits, India is home to more than 100 varieties of mangoes.

The juicy and delicious fruit, which is also native to India, often comes in different shades that vary from yellow to orange to tender green.

Here’s a map of Indian mango varieties.

11. Pickles map

Pickles are a lot more than condiments in India. Made with a mix of oil, vinegar and spices, pickles are highly versatile when it comes to their ingredients. Vegetables, fruits and even meat can be pickled with the right ingredients and oils.

Here’s a map tracing different types of pickles across the country.

12. Chilli map

Indian food is considered incomplete without the spice of chillies. In addition to adding a punch of flavour to dishes, chillies are also known for their several medicinal properties like improving digestion, promoting weight loss and heart health, preventing allergies and much more.

Though chillies are not native to India, the country is now one of the largest producers and exporters of chillies.

Here’s a map tracing the varieties of chillies in India.

13. Rice food map

A significant part of the Indian diet, rice is a staple for millions of people in India. A plate of rice, curd and pickle would make a perfect lunch for anyone who loves to eat rice.

From brown to white, short to tall, there are so many indigenous varieties of rice, that are grown in different parts of the country.

Here’s a map of some of India’s indigenous rice varieties.

14. Spice map

Be it Bengal’s shukto or Karbi Anglong in Assam’s organic ginger, we Indians have our own love language and it is a spicy one. From adding a punch of flavour to the dish to giving us several health benefits, Indian spices are used whole, powdered, roasted, dried or soaked in every dish.

Here’s a map tracing the spices of India.

15. Saag map

Saag or spinach is a green leafy vegetable, often disliked by children due to its taste and loved by adults for its health benefits. These greens are packed with several essential nutrients and are prepared in different ways across the country.
Just as its preparations, there are also a variety of spinaches that grow in different parts of the countries.

Here’s a map tracing the saag varieties in India.

Edited by Yoshita Rao

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