Sunday, March 2, 2014

Potato took Gujarat route to India

PALANPUR: Potato fries and chips are surely a hot favourite with the foodies of the country. But very few are aware of the fact that this tuber was first tasted by Gujarat as it entered India through Surat. It was called bateka by Gujaratis, a name that continues even today.

A well-known historian and former dean of law faculty at Hemchandracharya North Gujarat University (HNGU) Mukund Brahmkshatriya said, "It was in beginning of 17th century that Sir Thomas Roe 
 landed at Surat 
as an ambassador of King James I 
to the court of the Mughal emperor Jahangir. 
 When he left for Delhi he obviously left behind the ship that carried potatoes that were distributed among the labourers as it was feared that they would rot." The East India Company established its first warehouses in Surat in 1612.

Brahmkshatriya said, "Potato being a nonperishable tuber usually lasting for long was preferred by the mariners."

"Potato was a South American tuber that had later come to Europe," research director at Krushinagar Dantiwada Agricultural University (SDAU) R M Chauhan said.

Today, Gujarat with its famous Deesa potatoes

ranks fifth in the country in potato production. The cultivation began after the British allotted land in Deesa on the banks of river Banas. "Today, Deesa is one of the highest potato growing centres in the state accounting for more than 50 per cent of total production coming from Banaskantha district," scientist Narendra Singh at potato research station in Deesa attached to SDAU said.

Heritage History of Maritine Trade in Gujarat

Heritage History of Maritine Trade in Gujarat