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  • April 2009
Food For Thought         
 by Rudy Otter
"What's the food like?" is a question that tourists like to ask. Who would want to take a holiday in a country where the meals are regarded as "terrible" or "tasteless"?        
  Indian foodstuffs, I'm pleased to say, made a big impression in March with an appetising array of meals, snacks and spices at the biennial 4-day International Food & Drink show in London, held in the same sprawling venue where the World Travel Market featuring India is staged every year.        
 In my book, holidays and food go hand in hand. If you like the food, you want to visit the country concerned and give your tastebuds an even bigger treat.       
Proudly exhibiting Indian food and drink, alongside 1,200 of the world's top as well as rising organisations, were APEDA (which stands for Agricultural and Processed Food Export Development Authority), reprsenting a range of Indian firms seeking fresh markets across the globe. These included the All India Rice Exporters Association,  Beez India Natural Products, Haldiram Exports, Khushi Foods, Om Mangoes, Lion Fruits and Vegetables, Ravi Foods, Shri Lal Mahal and various others.       
The Tea Board of India was also eagerly promoting several different brands ranging from Nilgiri to Darjeeling and Assam Tea.       
 Everywhere one looked, India's food influences were evident, competing strongly with products of other countries, all there to increase market share in a friendly but businesslike atmosphere. 
 I spotted stands exhibiting Amira Foods of New Delhi, a large, privately-owned company which exports products such as Basmati rice and fresh vegetables to more than 30 countries with ambitions to expand even further afield. Anila's Authentic Sauces, a UK-based firm, specialising in "home-cooked flavours and tastes" free of dairy, gluten, sugar, onion and garlic, was there too. I also saw Exotic Fruits of Mumbai which exports tropical fruit purees and concentrates in canned and frozen packaging.       
There was G.S. Limited of Shahjahanpur with its BuzyWoman range of ready-to-cook vegetarian dishes which can be turned out in five minutes.  Spice in the Box, a UK firm, offers spice kits of "pure herbs and spices" to make traditional meals by with easy-to-follow recipes printed on each sachet. Other exhibitors included In2Spice (correct) Ltd, Mumtaz Ventures, The British Curry Company, and many more, attracting hundreds of potential clients while inevitably projecting India as a holiday destination with food as a hook to draw people in.       
Jalpur Millers, a UK-based firm, displayed its range of flours spices, pulses and pickles. Masala Masala, (correct) another UK-based firm,   showed its "100 per cent natural, Indian fresh sauce range made with the finest ingredients". New York Delhi, producers of snacks including the ever-popular Bombay Mix, say their spicy flavours "have not been watered down for Western tastes". They weren't kidding, as I found out, after sampling a mouthful of their fiery chewra.           
Many of the foreign exhibitors I spoke to said they "love India" and several have combined a break in Kerala with a holiday in other parts of India, usually places like Rajasthan, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and elsewhere, happily indulging in all the subcontinent's delightful cuisines.       
 Indeed there is a UK magazine called "Food and Travel" which earlier this year devoted ten pages to a culinary tour of Puducherry, the former French colony in South India, undertaken by top Indian chef Manju Malhi, seeking out mouth-watering dishes that blended French and Indian cooking techniques.       
I look forward to the day when India's Ministry of Tourism displays India's staggering array of dishes under the Incredible !ndia banner at these frequent food fairs, so uniting Indian tourism and its lip-smacking food as one irresistibly spicy package.

Tourism India, India' s Travel & Tourism Magazine, Kerala, India

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