Exploring India’s Famous Fruit-Producing Destinations
Image Credit: Strawberries from Mahabaleshwar are delicious | Unsplash

Travelling across India is a highly gratifying experience for a culinary explorer. The pleasure of experiencing various cuisines and cultures is heightened as we pass through climatic variations and topography. Each state and city is known for its unique agricultural products. However, we are often immediately attracted to the fresh and sweet fruits the place is famous for. At any Indian destination that is popular for a particular fruit, one can spot the numerous fruit sellers even before one enters the city. On the side of the highways, or the strolling vendors on the train, one can experience the variety and high quality of Indian fruits. It makes our journey much sweeter.

I can never forget the experience of climbing up the hills of Mahabaleshwar along the beautiful western ghats and stopping our bikes for a well-deserved break of selfies and strawberries. Being in the embrace of clouds with a bowl of Mahabaleshwar’s fresh strawberries and cream in your hand is an experience worth its magnetic pull, which brings you back to Mahabaleshwar repeatedly. These firm and juicy strawberries are known for their excellent quality and taste, making the beautiful hill station of Mahabaleshwar the ‘Strawberry Capital of India’.

Not far away from Mahabaleshwar is Ratnagiri, known for the world-famous Alphonso Mangoes or the ‘Hapus’. Considered one of the finest varieties of Mangoes in the world, Alphonso is a revered fruit in India. Being a seasonal fruit, Mangoes are always in demand in India; however, Alphonso is the prized possession that every mango lover wants to get their hands on. Alphonso mangoes are exported worldwide, and their juicy creamy texture is widely used to lure customers to the many mango-based drinks available in the market.

It may take a lifetime or more, but I still may not be able to try all the different varieties of Mangoes that grow in different parts of India; however, whenever I get a chance, I try out the local mango varieties. Being seasonal in nature, we have to make the most of our time and ensure we have our plateful of mangoes after every meal, for breakfast, and often as an evening snack. Mangoes are a culinary obsession, and all we mango lovers take pride in it. ‘Banganapalli’ of Andhra Pradesh, ‘Mallihabadi Dussehri aam’, ‘Himsagar of Bengal’, ‘Langda’ from Uttarpradesh, ‘Kesari’ of Gujarat, ‘Badami’, ‘Tottapari’, ‘Amrapali’, ‘Chausa’, ‘Imam Pasand’, ‘Neelam’, ‘Bombay green’ etc. are some of the popular varieties of Indian Mangoes among the hundreds of different types of it that grows across the country.

Kashmiri apples are very famous | Unsplash

The monsoons in Meghalaya are a natural wonder in their own right. The wettest region of India, its beautiful waterfalls, rivers, and streams are all too beautiful to forget. However, the juicy slices of Meghalaya’s ‘Kew’ pineapples with a sprinkled spicy masala atop I had in Cherrapunji made the monsoons of Meghalaya ever so memorable. Travelling throughout the northeast Indian region, quality and the variety of fruits are in plenty, which along with its beautiful weather and nature, makes for an ideal and healthy combination.

The weather makes Bangalore an ideal location for growing the famed ‘Bangalore Blue’ Variety of grapes. The sweet juicy flavour and its deep purple colour make it compulsory to try the delicious Grape juice you can get across the cities of Bangalore, Mysore, Mangalore, and other cities of Karnataka and the nearby states. Whenever we must talk about grapes, Nashik, also known as the ‘The Grape Capital of India’, needs a praising mention. One must try the delicious grapes of Nashik, which are protected under the geographical indication tag, which also makes the region famous for its Nashik Valley Wines, which, too, hold a G.I. Tag.

Banana is a sacred fruit in India, widely used in temples as Prasadam. The ‘Virupakshi’ Banana of Tamil Nadu is exclusively sourced for Palani’s famous lord Murugan temple. Similarly, another G.I tagged Banana called the ‘Chengalikodan Nendran’ Banana is used in the Gurvayur Temple in Kerala. Serumalai Hill bananas are grown on the hilly slopes near Dindigul, Tamilnadu. Nanjanagud bananas grow near Mysore, and the most interesting red Bananas of Kamalpur in Karnataka, which are unique in colour and texture, give great joy as we experience the wonderful agricultural produce of India.

The Coorgi honey Dew Papaya and Oranges, Badami and Appemidi Mangoes, and Devanahalli Pananas (Pomellos) are other unique fruits with G.I Status that are grown in Karnataka. As I travelled across Karnataka and Kerala, the sight of Jackfruit growing in farms and estates was a pleasant sight, and it’s prudent, thus, to try the dishes and food products prepared out of this fantastic fruit when you are in this coastal belt.

Oranges of Nagpur (Maharashtra) make it the Orange City of India; the Bananas of Jalgaon (Maharashtra) make it the Banana City of India, Oranges of Dambuk make it the Orange Bowl of Arunachal Pradesh. Likewise, The Khasi Mandarin and the Memang Narang (Wild Oranges) of Meghalaya, Litchies of Tezpur in Assam, Guavas of Allahabad, Dahanu Gholvad Chikoo, Jalna Sweet Orange, Solapuri Pomegranate, and the beed Custard Apple of Maharashtra, The Gir Kesar Mangoes of Saurashtra, Shahi Litchi of Bihar, Vazhakulam Pineapples of Kerala etc., brings immense fame to the state they grow in, and due reasons to explorers to experience the fruits of each region, for its unique taste and freshness.

Fruits are a great source of vitamins and other vital nutrients required by our body, and for all things healthy, fruits are the tastiest segment of foods one can consume. Part of all healthy diets, having an obsession for fresh and delicious fruits augurs well for health and well-being; however, if one is interested to understand how different fruits grow in different climates and terroir, as well as their multiple culinary applications, its cultural and economic impact, or just simply soaking in the pleasures of enjoying the fruits of India’s agricultural produce, travelling across India, will bring you at critical junctures where you can delve into unique fruits and make your journey and life, sweeter and healthier.

Sidharth Bhan Gupta, Founder of 361 Degrees Hospitality, is a Hospitality / Food and Beverage / Restaurant Consultant, Travelling across India on a Cultural and Culinary Exploration.