GI Tagged Food Gems: Celebrating Indigenous Flavors

Gucci mushrooms from Jammu are all set to get GI tag. This mushroom, found mainly in the foothills of the Himalayas, is the most expensive mushroom in the world, priced at Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 50,000 per kg. Considered a vitamin-rich superfood, wild mushrooms have a spongy texture and delicious flavor. But what makes them special and what is the GI tag?

Gucci mushrooms grow wild in cooler regions and boast a distinct flavor (Shutterstock).
Gucci mushrooms grow wild in cooler regions and boast a distinct flavor (Shutterstock).

“Gucci mushrooms have a very special flavor and their supply is extremely scarce, as they cannot be artificially cultivated unlike many other mushrooms. They are native to the cold regions of the Himalayas, grow in the wild and are difficult to source. Their purchase and supply also depend on land ownership. are regulated by existing authorities, further restricting their supply and adding to their limited use and high cost,” says Manas Dubashi, a mushroom farmer in Gurugram.

Not only rare produce like mushrooms, iconic dishes and regional specialties are also given a GI tag. Recently famous dishes of Bihar ‘Khurma’, ‘Tilkut’ and ‘Balu Shahi’ have been pitted for the tag and the competent authority has accepted their application.

Khurma is a crispy snack of fried flour coated with sugar like sugar. Tilkut is a crunchy sweet made from sesame seeds and jaggery and Balu Shahi is a sweet that is crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Understanding tags

India has the largest number of Geographical Indication (GI) tags for food and agricultural products. The GI tag defines the region of origin of the product and helps define what is ‘authentic’. The concept of GI tag was introduced in 2003 under the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999. Darjeeling was the first to award the tag to tea.

“GI tags bring credibility and trust and define originality. It is like the trust brought by any brand name. What it does is to restrict the production of similar food items that can be packaged and sold under the same name, if it is not for the GI tag. For example, Champagne comes only from the same region in France and all other similar drinks are sparkling wines,” explains Chef Sanjeev Kapoor.

“A GI tag affects marketing and also protects the heritage of the product. Take the example of Pokkali rice which is grown in salt water in Kerala and is not known much but it would have been lost without the GI tag. Today it can be sold for 200 per kg,’ he adds.

A GI tag is an indicator that a particular product originates from a region and its attributes—certain taste, texture, and/or aroma—are attributed to that region. Such credit not only preserves authenticity but also helps promote local commerce.

“The GI tag creates branding and much larger commercial interests that help the farmer or farmer get a better price for their hard work. It has a very positive impact on the food world as it allows users to understand its true origin and the sheer benefits associated with it. This is important. that our food ingredients should have a GI tag specified for long term interest so that the entire process is well defined.from origin to cultivation to economics,” says Chef Nishant Chaubey.

A global benchmark

Granting a GI tag also helps local products gain global exposure, further boost commerce and establish their identity internationally.

“To me, GI is a complete celebration of regional India under the global spotlight, like Champagne and Parmesan. A GI tag is a matter of great domestic pride but also protection against abuse of product identity and the absolute promise of prestige around the world,” says chef Varun Inamdar.

“Kashmiri saffron, Hyderabadi haleem, Manipuri black rice, monsoon Malabar coffee, rasgola from Odisha have all received GI tags in the past and have been identified as products originating from a given place,” explains chef Tarun Sibal by way of example.

“More and more authentic, uniquely Indian products native to the country and rich in cultural heritage are now looking for GI tags to cement their place and origin. Be it river chillies from Goa or sev from Ratlam,” he adds.

Recently tagged

Varanasi’s popular Banarasi Paan and Longda Mango have recently acquired the tag. Ramnagar banta (eggplant), Chandausi adamchini chawal (paddy), Hathras are other products from Uttar Pradesh to get the hing tag.

Murukku, a popular, crunchy snack that is a festival favorite in Tamil Nadu, also got the tag recently after almost a decade-long wait. Kambam Paneer Thrachai (grape), Marthandam honey are other food items of the state which are distinguished with the tag.

Recently, this tag was also given to the popular March rice of Bihar which is known for its aromatic taste.

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