Best of India: Mapping the GI Food Trail

With Bengal’s Rosogolla being promoted to the coveted list, we bring to you the ultimate guide of indigenous food with the GI stamp of approval


This has been a sweet week for West Bengal, as their beloved Rosogolla stepped up from being just a gastronomical identity for Bengalis by securing a geographical indication (GI) certificate from the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry. An indigenous commodity acquires a GI tag when they become synonymous to their specific geographical locations. So, it was only time before the spongy sweetmeat dunked in saccharine syrup got this recognition for being a symbol of West Bengal—sorry Odisha. But Rosogolla is only the latest to join the bandwagon. Here’s a look at the other GI-tagged food products of India from various states:

Himachal Pradesh: The orthodox variety Kangra tea that bears resemblance to Darjeeling tea is registered under Geographical Indications of Goods Act. This step was adopted to revive this award-winning tea variety known for its flavour and colour, and leverage it on a global platform.

Madhya Pradesh: The beautifully crispy and fresh Ratlami Sev that requires immense human skill and effort to produce, received a GI certification to safeguard manufacturers against duplication of their unique offering.

Odisha: The Ganjam district of Odisha produces 90 per cent of the kewda flower, and it is estimated that the Ganjam kewda industry provides an annual income of 4.5-6 million USD (300-400 million INR) to local farmers. Hence, the Ganjam Kewda Flower and Rooh were secured with a GI tag. Kewra is used as a seasoning and for Ayurvedic healing.

Rajasthan: The first batch of Bikaneri Bhujia was made in the princely state way back in 1877, and in 2005 it secured a GI tag to safeguard this legacy, ensuring that none other than the registered and authorised producers would be allowed to use the popular product name.

Uttar Pradesh: The king-sized Allahabad Surkha Guava with its deep pink-coloured flesh and reddish skin, the aromatic Ajara Ghansal Rice, the black husk and a mild salty-tasting Kalanamak Rice, and the pulpy and flavoursome Malihabadi Dusseheri Mango grown in the Lucknow region are Uttar Pradesh’s Geographical Indication stalwarts.

Uttarakhand: The sweet bay leaf—Uttarakhand Tejpat—is the first product indigenous to the state to have made it to the GI list. The popular spice grown extensively in the hilly region is used in cooking, and tejpatta finds a place in Ayurvedic and herbal medicinal preparations.

Did you know? The aromatic, long and slender Basmati Rice that grows in the Indo-Gangetic plain has a GI tag too. The twist in the tale is, it is shared by seven states: Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana and Bihar.

Goa: Cashew Feni, the spirit produced exclusively in the coastal state of Goa, was awarded the GI tag, empowering local producers with exclusive brand protection rights. Efforts have been initiated to obtain GI certification for Goa’s coconut feni too.

Gujarat: The GI tag for the long-grain, protein-rich Bhalia Wheat, cultivated without irrigation in the Bhal region near Gulf of Khambhat, benefitted the 5000+ farmers in the state. Gir Kesar Mango too was accorded the GI tag to help prevent sale of ordinary Kesar mangoes.

Maharashtra: The bounty of Maharashtra includes several fruits, vegetables, spices and grains in the prestigious GI list. The famous Nagpur orange, Mahabaleshwar Strawberry, Nashik Grapes and Nashik Valley wine, Vengurla Cashew, Sangli Raisins, Lasalgaon Onion, Dahanu Gholvad Chikoo, Beed Custard Apple, Jalna Sweet Orange, Jalgaon Banana, Marathwada Kesar Mango, Purandar Fig, Jalgaon Bharit Brinjal, Solapur Pomegranate, Waigaon Turmeric, Mangalwedha Jowar, Bhiwapur Chilli, Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri Kokum, Waghya Ghevada, Navapur Tur Dal, fragrant Ambemohar Rice and Kolhapur Jaggery. And last but not the least, the popular Alphonso mangoes are only sold by farmers from Ratnagiri and Devgad area of Konkan in Maharashtra by using the GI tag.

Andhra Pradesh: Andhra Pradesh is the proprietor of the coveted GI tag for the succulent Banganapalle mangoes that have been grown in the state for over 100 years. And of course, the thick red-skinned Guntur Sannam Chilli which is high on the heat quotient and packs a fiery punch. The much sought-after Tirupathi Laddu has a GI tag too, which means that only Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams can make and sell these laddus. The 250+ families engaged in the craft of making the sweet and rich Bandar Laddu are also GI-protected.

Karnataka: The land of coffee and spices—Karnataka’s Monsooned Malabar Robusta Coffee and Monsooned Malabar Arabica Coffee are GI protected. The milk-based Indian delicacy Dharwad Pedha, fruits Coorg Oranges, Devanahalli Pomello, Bangalore Blue Grapes, Appemidi Mango, Nanjanagud Banana, Kamalapur Red Banana have all found their way into the GI-secured list. Among the vegetables and spices are the indigenous green brinjal Udupi Mattu Gulla, Mysore Betel leaf, Coorg Green Cardamom, rose-tinted Bangalore Rose Onion and the fiery Bydagi Chilli. The fragrant Mysore Malligae, Hadagali Malligae and Udupi Malligae are GI protected too which also encourages the local farmers.

Kerala: God’s own country is known for its rice plantations, spices cultivations, especially pepper and cardamom and its bananas. And those are exactly the produce that is part of the GI list from the state. Pokkali Rice, Navara Rice, Palakkadan Matta Rice, Kaipad Rice, Wayanad Jeerakasala Rice, Wayanad Gandhakasala Rice, Malabar and Tellechery Pepper, Chengalikodan Nendran Banana, Alleppey Green Cardamom, Central Travancore Jaggery and Vazhakkulam Pineapple are the chosen few.

Tamil Nadu: The GI status for Nilgiri Orthodox tea was provided for 10 years to recognise its unique flavour and quality. The Eathomozhy Tall Coconut, Virupakshi Hill Banana and Sirumalai Hill Banana are also GI-protected for their uniqueness.

Telangana: A lot of hard work goes into making the rich and unparalleled Hyderabadi Haleem. But it’s well worth it, because the taste of the stew-like delicacy is heavenly and is the best food to break your Ramzan fast. It bagged the GI tag in 2010.

Arunachal Pradesh: The pulpy Wakro Oranges from the famed orange orchards and gardens of Arunachal are the only food and agricultural item from this north-eastern state to be registered under Geographical Indication Registration.

Assam: After Muga silk, Assam Orthodox tea was the second commodity from the tea-centric state to be GI-recognised. The highly aromatic and delicately flavoured Joha rice followed suit. Bolstering the commercial prospects of Assam Karbi Anglong Ginger produced in the Singhasan Hill, and the Tezpur Litchis grown in Lichu Pukhuri and Porowa were accorded Geographical Indication rights by the GI Registry of India.

Manipur: The organic Kachai Lemon bagged a GI registration tag due to its unique property of containing 51 percent ascorbic acid - the highest in the world. Most other lemon varieties have only 20 to 30 percent of ascorbic acid.

Meghalaya: The special Khasi Mandarin is organically grown in Meghalaya and is sweet, aromatic and juicy. Its tight and smooth skin makes it different from other mandarin varieties, making it much-deserving of the GI tag.

Mizoram: One of the spiciest chillies in the world, the fiery bird eye chillies, native to Mizoram, was accorded a GI tag in March 2015. Fun fact - the smaller the chilli, the spicier it is.

Nagaland: Known for its pungency and aroma, the Naga King Chilli was certified by the Geographical Indication Registry and paved the way for the spicy chilli to be exported out of the country. The Naga Tree Tomato is distinctly different from the classic tomato as it is egg-shaped and its colour varies from yellow and orange to red and almost purple. This organic indigenous fruit is abundantly grown in the hilly region of Nagaland since 1930s and gained popularity during the World War II.

Sikkim: The GI-tagged Large Cardamom cultivated in Sikkim is one of the cash-rich crops of the small state. This aromatic spice is used in several food preparations, but most importantly, it is used as a spice in several ayurvedic concoctions due to its 2-3% essential oil content.

Tripura: This north-eastern state is one of the leading pineapple producers in the country. The organic and unseasonal cultivation of the Tripura Queen Pineapple is made possible by horticulture scientists in Tripura, boosting revenues and acquiring a GI tag.

West Bengal: The aromatic Darjeeling tea was the first GI tagged product in India in 2004. Banglar Rosogolla is the most recent addition to the list. But the Bengalis take their love for sweets seriously as Bardhaman Mihidana, which is the micro cousin of the traditional Boondi, and the Bardhaman Sitabhog that is powdered rice and cottage cheese based, along with Joynagarer moa—a seasonal Bengali sweetmeat delicacy prepared from date palm jaggery and puffed rice were already on the coveted GI list. Other inclusions from the state are sweet Laxman Bhog Mango, Khirsapati Mango, and Fazli Mango grown in the district of Malda . And how can rice not be on the list? The aromatic and unique Tulaipanji and Govindabhog Rice from the state also have the prestigious tag.

Conceptualised by Vartika Pahuja
Images courtesy: Shutterstock


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