The world believes that India is majorly a vegetarian country, but this is a myth that needs to be busted! When you talk about a food city in India, people generally believe that places like Delhi and Mumbai would be the best, catering to many different communities, however, Kolkata has emerged as the No. 1 Food City in India. This, of course, goes without saying that no food city can be a foodies’ paradise without delectable non-vegetarian food.
According to surveys carried out by the government, only about 22-38 percent of Indians are vegetarians. However, a new research led by an anthropologist from the US stated that these numbers are inflated and the number of vegetarians in India is much lesser. When talking about a food city, it is important to understand the political or cultural influences also determine the ‘government estimate figures’.
Vegetarian Food City Vs. Non-Vegetarian Food City
India’s population comprises of almost eighty percent Hindus and these also comprise of the majority of meat eaters in India. Just about 1/3 of upper-caste Indians are vegetarians. Indore has emerged as a majorly vegetarian city with 49% vegetarian population, followed by Meerut (36%), Delhi (30%), Mumbai (18%), Hyderabad (11%), Chennai (6%) and finally Kolkata (4%). Thus making Kolkata the No. 1 Non-Vegetarian Food City in India. Surprisingly in a country where ‘beef bans’ are common, almost 8% Indians consume beef.
Are Religious and Political Beliefs Impacting Food City Surveys?
The current ruling party in India, BJP, spreads vegetarianism and the belief that cows are sacred animals that must be protected. Many states have put bans on beef and aggressive measures have been taken to ensure no slaughter of “sacred cows” takes place. Thus although the number of beef eating people is much higher, such religious and political pressures do not allow real figures and numbers to show up.
Food City Myths
If not for political or religious influences, myths and superstitions pertaining to a food city also cloud real judgements. For example, Delhi and Butter Chicken go hand-in-hand but when it comes to Chennai people only think of it as a vegetarian food city with idli, dosa and other common south Indian food delights. Punjab is another state that instantly pops to mind when one thinks of a non-vegetarian food city, however, almost 75 percent of the people here are vegetarians.
All these misconceptions are probably because of the very large and diverse food options in India. Every state, and sometimes even communities have their own local cuisines, adding to the plethora of food diversity in the country. In fact, when understanding the dynamics of food and food choices in India even factors like Patriarchy and Gender comes into play. More women in India claim to be vegetarian, whereas more men are meat eaters.
Kolkata’s Diverse Non-Veg Menu Makes it a Meat Lovers Food City
While most of us believe that Kolkata means great Fish, there is so much more in store for meat eaters. Yes, Fish is the predominant food choice, but Bengali cuisines cater to all kinds of meats. Some of the authentic non-vegetarian dishes of Kolkata include:
- Keemar Doi Bora
Minced meat prepared with Sweet and Spicy Curd.
- Kathi Rolls
Thin Rotis/Bread wrapped around Meat Kebabs.
- Daab Chingri
Jumbo Prawns cooked in mustard and served with tender coconut.
- Bhetki Macher Paturi
Slow cooked fish in mustard and coconut, wrapped in a banana leaf.
- Kosha Mangsho
Mutton cooked in spicy tomato and yoghurt curry.