Cultural traditions, migration patterns and dietary restrictions shape the meals that are cooked in most Indian homes. The gap between what people buy, eat and cook at home and what is available in restaurants and supermarkets is quite vast. Over the last few decades, the generational relationships with greengrocers, fishmongers and kirana stores were changed by a blind aping of food trends from the West and suddenly imported exotic foods took precedence over India’s hyperlocal produce.

Our special issue attempts to look at the small and big ways in which a growing number of chefs, conscious food brands and culinary influencers are attempting to reverse this trend.

The move to eat like an Indian is not just a return to a past idyll, but an important part of a very modern global movement towards eating in a sustainable and healthy manner. Individuals and initiatives are plumbing the country’s mind-boggling regional diversity to come up with new ways to interpret Indian food. Our cover story traces the journey of mahua from the forests to a wider urban market as new initiatives seek to upscale this indigenous drink and its potential to transform the tribal economy while other pieces look at the ways in which chefs across the country, from Mumbai to the North-East are proudly showcasing local cooking traditions and produce in innovative ways. Instead of stocking different brands of quinoa, speciality brands and gourmet stores are trying to focus on alternatives like millet to tackle diseases like diabetes and gluten allergies.

To journey around the country discovering the different communities and their food cultures is an idea that is finding many takers in India and abroad. A case in point is the growing popularity of Indian village cooking channels on Youtube showcasing unusual recipes and unlikely chefs.

The idea is simple—to create an awareness of our own produce, terroir and culinary heritage both in the country and within a larger global context.

We are what we eat and the many Indias that we simultaneously inhabit deserves a mention on our plates as well.

Read all the stories here: