From Chai To Spices: 10 Most Sought-After Indian Food Exports

India, being a subcontinent on its own and with its rich agricultural heritage, has had its produce  much prized and even fought over by the world for centuries. 

There have been stories passed down and artwork done depicting exotic fruit varieties being consumed by foreign invaders; for example, Alexander seemed to have termed his first taste of mango in India as reminding him of ’honeyed banana’. No one needs to be reminded of the turn of events after the discovery of spice routes from India to Europe. These same products exported around the world in the current century are not only a source of national income but also a source of national pride. 


India is the 4th largest exporter of tea. Tea varieties like the exquisite Darjeeling tea, the bold Assam tea and the aromatic Nilgiri tea are in great demand worldwide for their inimitable tastes. These tea varieties are most suitable for making the typical Indian chai with spices, which has won the hearts of people worldwide. Take, for example, the middle-eastern city of Dubai, whose locals have discovered the beverage from Indian immigrants, acquired the habit and are known to have their own chai shops catering to the local public as early as 5 in the morning.  



India is the 2nd largest exporter of mangoes. Many attempts have been made in the past to emulate the humidity and soil conditions of India in the west to get mangoes to develop the same rich taste but in vain. The tropical weather in India, with heavy rainfall in some regions and just the right air currents from the oceans to the land, causes Indian mangoes to develop a unique taste that is much sought after all over the world. Of particular interest are varieties like the Alphonso, Banganapalli and Gir Kesar, desired primarily for their sweet and pulpy, non-fibrous texture. 


Sugarcane is not directly exported but due to the increasing production of processed foods, there is a growing demand for sugar around the world. Most of India’s sugarcane is converted to sugar and jaggery; most of the former is exported, while jaggery, which is known as ‘gur’ locally, is consumed in traditional cuisines.  

Basmati Rice

India is the largest  exporter of rice in the world, especially Basmati rice. The most fragrant rice known to mankind, chefs almost never prefer to make their biryanis with any other rice, due to which this long-grain rice commands a much higher price in the international market  than any other local variety.



India has over 62% share in world trade when it comes to this spice. Scientific communities have been waking up lately to what Indians knew for centuries about the antibacterial and antioxidant capacities of curcumin found in turmeric. New  innovative ways to include turmeric intake have come up in the west, like the famous Turmeric Latte, a version of the Indian Haldi doodh. 


India is the world's top 3 exporter of pomegranates. Though India does not export as many of its pomegranates as its mangoes, they are sought after for their deep and rich taste. Indian pomegranate varieties, like Bhagwa and Ganesh, have some of the best qualities in the world. 

Black Pepper 

India is both the largest producer and exporter of black pepper in the world. Indian Malabar pepper has been traded around the world for centuries and is quite sought after for its superior taste. With Indian cuisine becoming more popular around the world because of increasing  globalisation, people are now seeking authentic Indian dishes like sambar, rasam, and pepper chicken made with indigenous spices, which has contributed to its export. It is hailed as the ‘king of spices’. 

Green Cardamom

India is one of the biggest producers and exporters of cardamoms having over 23% share in world trade as of 2023. If black pepper was the king of spices during the spice trade, green cardamom was known as the queen of spices. Many dishes around the world call for the use of this subtle spice, like Biryanis in the Middle East and Chai back here in India.  


India is the 5th largest exporter of lentils in the world. With veganism on the rise in the West, people are looking towards plant protein as a substitute for animal products. This has led to an increase in its exports, as India is the single largest producer of lentils. Lentils contain not only protein in a form that the human body can easily digest but also many gut friendly nutrients. It is a true health food.


India is the highest producer and exporter of Jackfruit. Jackfruit grows in the sub-tropics and the recent discovery of mock-meat products has increased the demand for this fruit around the world, leading to increased exports of this fruit from India. Delicacies of this fruit are made both with raw and ripe versions of the fruit.