‘Fruits are around 20 major rivers in India which

‘Fruits de la Mer’ in English literally translates to
‘fruits of the sea’, which in fact means seafood in French. Across the world, seafood
has been a part of people’s diets for centuries and has a huge influence on the
way we eat. Seafood has three sub-categories: fish, crustaceans, and
cephalopods. There are thousands of varieties of fish found across the globe,
which can be conveniently divided into two types i.e. the freshwater fish and
the saltwater fish. (FAO, 2001)

In India fish is being consumed since the Harappa era,
a civilization that was born in 7000 BCE. “Fishing nets have been identified on
a pot-shred found at Harappa. It showed a fisherman carrying two nets hanging
from a pole across his shoulder.” (Agarwal S C, 2006) This proves that fish has
been a part of the diet in this country since many centuries. There is a long history of India and aquaculture, with
references to fish culture in Kautilya’s Arthashastra (321–300 B.C.) and King
Someswara’s Manasolassa (1127 A.D.) The traditional practice of fishing culture
in small ponds in eastern India is known to have existed for hundreds of years
as per FAO.

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Despite India being majorly a vegetarian country, a
large portion of the population consumes and produces fish, it even has become
a part of their daily diet. India has a coastline of about 7600 km, making it
the largest peninsula in the world surrounded by Bay of Bengal to the east,
Arabian Sea in the west, and the Indian Ocean towards the south. There are
around 20 major rivers in India which provide water to its large population.
India has a typical monsoon climate, but the rainfall varies in different
regions of the country. (FAO,2015) Indian people practice freshwater
aquaculture brackish water aquaculture, marine aquaculture, and inland
fisheries. (FAO,2017) As the second largest fish
producing country, India with its aquaculture showed an overwhelming ten-fold
growth of annual fisheries in the past, from 0.75 million tons in
1950-51 to 9.6 million tons in 2013-2014. (Jong J. D., 2017).

 The states of Kerala,
Nagaland, Delhi, Arunachal Pradesh, and Tripura consume a high amount of fish. (M
Krishnan et al, 2016) Some popular fishes in India are sardines, mackerel,
sole, tuna, Bombay duck, kingfish, Pomfret, shrimp, hilsa, carp, and catfish. One
common culinary norm is drying fish, Fish is often dried for the preparation of
gravies or for longer shelf-life.  Other fishes cultivated are the native giant tiger
prawn, exotic white leg shrimp, catla, rohu, mrigal, silver carp, grass carp,
mussels, oysters, and seaweed are produced. (FAO., 2017) Prawn Biryani,
numerous versions of fish fry’s, Malwani style fish curry, Bengali fish
curries, and many more are made using the catch of the sea in this country. (Thumma
S., 2017)

Without further ado, let’s delve into the
mouth-watering and mesmerizing food created in India’s very own state of
Karnataka. Karnataka is famous for its Mysuru Palace, The shiny IT industry in
Bengaluru, the vast sea next to Mangalore, and the mysterious evergreen forest
in the Western Ghats. The cuisine in the southern state of Karnataka is
versatile, flavorful and full of unique ingredients. It comprises of various
non-vegetarian and vegetarian dishes that are influenced by its neighboring
states of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Kerala, Goa, and Andhra Pradesh. There are
various cultures that reside harmoniously in this biodiverse state that
contains a basket full of nature’s culinary bounty. The cuisine of Karnataka is
divided on the basis of its regions namely Mangalore, Malenadu, Kodagu, Uttara
Karnataka i.e. north Karnataka, and Dakshina Karnataka i.e. south Karnataka. People
predominantly are vegetarians in this state, the exceptions being the people
from coastal Karnataka which comprises of the cities Mangalore, Karwar, and
Gokarna, Mangalorean cuisine is known for its seafood preparations. (K.K.
Gautam, 2015)

The port city of Mangalore is towards the west of this
southern state, joined to the Arabian Sea. Mangalore is an abode to pristine
beaches, the famous Udupi and Tuluva cuisine. The largely Tulu speaking
population here survives on rice, chicken, fish, fruits, and most importantly ‘coconut’.
In written history, this city was mentioned for the first time in 715 CE and
was ruled by numerous dynasties like the Chalukyas, the Hoysalas, the Kadambas,
and much more that influenced the cuisine of this city. Mangalorean food has
traces of Goan cuisine because of the Catholics who reside here, originally
from Goa. (PIIPL,2017) The other communities like the Bunts, the Shettys, the
Gowda Saraswat Brahmins (GSB) and Muslims are influencers on the cuisine here.
(Amanna K., 2007)

Karnataka produced over five lac tons of fish in the
year 2015-16 worth ?490650 lacs. As it comprises of a coastline of 320 km and
the inland waters of around five lac hectares. (GOK, 2016) This proves that seafood
is the cheapest and the most commonly savored sources of protein, the variety
being Mackerel, Kingfish, cod, crabs, prawns, squid, shrimp, mussels,
barramundi, Pomfret, croaker, etc. (KYF, 2017)

Fish is a staple food with rice, except for the
brahmins who do not follow a non-vegetarian diet. There is no bar on age, gender,
class, and economic background when it comes to consuming fish, as seafood is
easily available in large quantities and is economical. During auspicious
occasions like festivals and poojas only vegetarian meals are prepared by the
Hindu population because non-vegetarian food during such occasions is
considered inauspicious. (Anchan K., 2017) Mangalore’s fish markets do not go
unnoticed because of their sheer number. Generally, it’s the women selling
freshly caught seafood in small sheds in such markets who spend the day dealing
with bargainers and shouting for customers, and the men are busy in catching
their fruits from the sea.  (MT, 2008)

 One of the most
popular delicacies from this region is the fish curry made using ‘Lady fish’,
which locally is known as ‘Kane fish curry’. It is made with a masala that has
a base of red chilis and onion flavored with garlic, coriander, and cumin, then
this masala is blended with a generous helping of freshly grated coconut, and
is of course cooked in coconut oil. Another Mangalorean fish curry called ‘Meen
Gassi’, a common fish curry is made in this region with the distinct Byadgi chilies.
(Vinodh S., 2016) Generally, curries are accompanied with Steamed Rice or
various other forms of rice that these crafty rice lovers have created. Rice
preparations like Akki roti, Neeru dosa, Kori rotti, and the exquisite Moode, a
preparation of cylindrical rice rolls that are steamed in jackfruit leaves are
famous here. The locals consume the unpolished rice, also known as red rice, which
is known to be healthier. (K.K. Gautam, 2015)

 Fish fry, a famous
fish preparation across the coasts of India, are a delicacy here too,
especially the ones coated in ‘Rawa’ which is the Indian term for semolina. Rawa
fry in this part of the country is preferred with Bangude or Mackerel, that is
marinated and then coated in the semolina, this is shallow fried in coconut oil
and eaten hot out of the wok with a squeeze of lemon. (Vinodh S.,2007) Yetti Ajadina
also known as Prawn Sukka is a dry prawn dish made with the Mangalorean twist
of curry leaves, fenugreek, coconut, and tamarind that makes this dish a
favorite for many. (Naiga P.S., 2016) Other than these Pulimunchi, Jenji Gassi,
Bolanjir Gassi, etc. are the famous seafood dishes. (Samuel D., 2016)

Being a primarily agrarian state, there is a huge
variety vegetables and cereals produced in this state. Jarige fruit, a souring
agent, is used specifically in this cuisine. It is commonly found dehydrated
and is said to be a healthier alternative to tamarind. (Phadnis R., 2013) Other
than that, the ingredients used extensively in this cuisine are carrom seeds,
byadgi chilies, mustard seeds, coconut, curry leaves, tamarind, kokam, raw
mango, raw jackfruit, bamboo shoots, raw banana and more. One distinct feature of
this cuisine is that they use palm jaggery, a healthy alternative to sugar, in
their desserts like Kai Holige, Kadle Bele Payasa, Mangalore buns, etc. This
Tuluva cuisine can safely be called healthy, for using fresh ingredients cooked
in as little fat as possible. (U.B. Rajalakshmi, 2014)

 

Another fascinating cuisine in India is from Kerala.
The slogan for Kerala by the government of India is ‘God’s on country’, and
doubt if people would disagree. There is a certain richness in every bit of the
land, culture, geography, and its vast history. Kerala, as mentioned in
history, has been frequented by traders from the Mediterranean and European
countries since the past 2000 years that have influenced he food. (K.K. Gautam,
2014) This state is in between Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats, and it has backwaters
which is exclusive to Kerala. This state receives monsoons twice, which helps
with its estates of rubber, pepper, tea, coffee, and tapioca receive plenty of
water. The coastline of 580 km provides this state with the numerous ports and
beaches the state is known for. (KSITM, 2017) Being invaded by various rulers
there are people of numerous religions here like Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity.
A majority of the population strictly follows a non-vegetarian diet excluding
the Brahmins, Nambudiris, and the Nairs. The cuisine is divided into the Hindu,
the Malabar, and the Syrian Christian. (K. K. Gautam, 2014)

The name of the state, Kerala, is derived from the
words ‘kera’ which means coconut and ‘alam’ translating to storehouse. This
shows the importance of coconut in this state. Kerala is known as the ‘Land of
Spices’ too. (Bali P., 2015)

Being right next to the ocean, fishing has been an
occupation practiced since centuries. The Chinese fishing nets that are specifically
found in Kerala are the indicators of the age-old fishing occupation here.
Around 3.8 lac people are occupied in the fisheries sector as marine fishery
and 2.3 lac people are involved in inland fishery who are an asset to the
state. Kerala shares around 20 percentile of national marine fish production.
In the year 2012, the total production of fish in Kerala was about 6.9 lacs
metric tons. The condition of the fishermen is pitiable because they do not
generate enough revenue, most of the fishermen fall under poverty. Lack of
exposure to the mainstream market due to lack of infrastructure is the main
cause of poverty among fishermen. The state government has introduced various
schemes to overcome these issues and work towards increasing production of
fish. (DOF, 2017) Men and women, both are involved in fishing activities. It is
mostly women who sell the fresh catch in the markets and men go into the sea to
fish. Women take part in the processing of the fish after the harvest i.e.
icing, curing, drying, etc. (Kelkar-Khambete A., 2012)

Fish is eaten by a majority of the population, and is
part of the daily diet as it is considered healthy for the body. (George S.,
017) The common types of fish caught and consumed around the Malabar coast are catla,
rohu, mrigal, labeo, silver carp, sardines, prawns, oyster, catfish, tilapia,
etc. (DOF, 2017) Keralites enjoy a wide variety of the ocean’s bounty available
to them. The flavor profile of the Keralite food is quite similar it the
Mangalorean food. Curries are an important part of the diet, Meen Moilee a stew
with a base of coconut milk in which fish is stewed is a favorite. Another
famous curry is Meen Muringakka Curry, which means fish drumstick curry, a
slightly sour and mildly spiced fish curry with drumsticks in it. The fish
curries are made in ‘kudukka’, which are flat-bottomed clay pots. A local
all-time favorite is Karimeen Pollichathu, a spicy dish made with Pearl Spot
fish (Karimeen) that is wrapped in banana leaf and baked. Some of the other
famous seafood dishes are Fish Mappas, Kanyakumari fish curry, Kanava roast
which in English means squid roast, Chemmen curry that is the prawn curry, and
many more. The people in this region are rice-eaters especially red rice, so
these fish preparations are generally eaten with steamed rice. (George S.,
2015) Some rice preparations that are famous here are ‘Puttu’, a steamed
cylindrical rice and coconut dish, made in a special utensil called
‘Puttukutti’, is eaten as breakfast with Kadala. ‘Pathiri’ which is like a
paratha made of rice and whole wheat flour, Appams, and Idiyappam also known as
string hoppers. (Bali P., 2015) The Malabari Paratha, a layered flatbread made
of refined flour is a popular bread generally eaten with beef. The Malayali are
huge fans of beef, one can find a stall of beef and Paratha in every other
corner of the city. (George S., 2017)

One specialty of Kerala is the ‘Onam Sadhya’, which is
a vegetarian meal of nine courses served on the day of the festival Onam. Meat
like beef, mutton, and chicken is also commonly eaten. (K.K. Gautam, 2014) Many
people in Kerala have gardens in their backyards or the front yards where they
grow fruits and vegetables because they prefer fresh ingredients. Some ingredients
from this land that are distinctly used in this cuisine are various types of
bananas, raw jackfruit, shallots, snake gourd, fish tamarind, mangoes, coconut
milk, curry leaves, tapioca, and numerous spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, star
anise, etc. (Bali P., 2015)

 

 

A land like India, with
all its diverse cuisines, surely fascinates many. The cuisines of Kerala and
Karnataka are similar and dissimilar at the same time. Having had the privilege
to taste the food from both these states, I personally believe that they should
be popularized further among the masses. Not only are they delicious, but
healthy. The similarities in the topography, cultures, and agricultural produce
of these two states, one can’t help but compare the foods. But I must say that
they are very different in taste from each other. Both use similar spices,
vegetables, “coconut”, and similar fishes, the end result is states apart. The
methods of cooking, the type of ingredients used to make the food, and the
influence of globalization are some of the factors that set the Keralite and
the Tuluva cuisine apart. Fish, being a great source of vitamins, minerals,
proteins, and are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids which is beneficial to us in many
ways, has an increasing market. The ever-increasing population of India and its
growing demand for food is a clear indicator that the aquaculture and fishery
industry is need of development. Most of the people involved in the fishery are
the ones who do it on a small-scale, they are prone to loss of business because
most of these people are illiterate and aren’t aware of the current
technologies available for fishing. More efforts must be made into the
infrastructure in this industry, like storehouses, transportation facilities,
new fishing methods, etc. so that the fishermen can move forward instead of
backward with their humble businesses.