May 31, 2020
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What Indians Eat - From Chennai To Ludhiana

Diversity in the Indian culture can be mapped with the food an Indian family eats- from Idli to bread pakoda, chapati to khakra.

What Indians Eat - From Chennai To Ludhiana
Photograph by R.A. Chandroo
What Indians Eat - From Chennai To Ludhiana

Premkumar Family, Vegetarian

Chennai, Tamil Nadu

Premkumar (51) works as a service engineer at a car showroom. Anandhi Premkumar (47), his wife, works with a finance company as manager, while their son Sriram (21) has just completed his bachelor’s in engineering. Anandhi loves music and listens to her favourites while ­unwinding after the day’s work. Occasionally, the couple take a stroll at night. Weekends are spent buying groceries.

  • Breakfast Idli / poori with moong dal
  • Lunch Lemon rice and potato fry / rice with sambhar or rasam
  • Dinner Dosa, upma, followed by milk

Anandhi eats one fruit every day at around 11 am. The family uses refined oil mostly, keeping coconut oil for special dishes.

Read Also: Nutrition Famine: What’s On Our Plate?


  • Sambhar does the trick if it’s rich in vegetables
  • Any fruit any time is good
  • People in Tamil Nadu generally have lighter meals at night, absorption is easy


  • High consumption of rice means rise in blood sugar levels
  • Coconut oil should be used more often

Jyani Family, Vegetarian

Sri Ganganagar, Rajasthan

Sudhesh Jyani (36), a farmer, grows wheat, gram, guar and cotton on his 10-acre land in Sri Ganganagar, the food basket of Rajasthan. His wife, Meera Jyani (34), is a homemaker and also takes care of the domestic cow—from arranging fodder to milking it. Their 17-year-old son Prince studies in a school in a nearby town. The Jyanis own a refrigerator, a television, a motorcycle and a tractor, among other things. The son wants to pursue higher education and secure a job. If he fails, he’ll fall back on farming.

Read Also: Of Sabja Seeds And Goji Berries

Early morning Tea

  • Morning (10 am) Chapati with a mixture of red chilli, salt and water and buttermilk / chapati with onion and green chilli
  • Evening (7 pm) Chapati with kadhi and occasionally dal or some vegetable; milk before sleeping

Chapati is taken with ghee. Sudhesh and Prince consume twice the amount of ghee and milk compared to Meera. On the other hand, Meera drinks a lot more tea than the males.


  • Milk consumption


  • Dietary diversity is poor
  • No fruits in the diet
  • Vegetables are hugely missing, green leafy or otherwise

Photograph by Tribhuvan Tiwari

Singh Family, Vegetarian

Ludhiana, Punjab

Amreek Singh (57) has a sprawling house in Purba village. Out in the frontyard, there is a sedan, a tractor, his son’s Royal Enfield, and near it his gym equipment. A few blocks from the house is another plot where Singh keeps his 10 cows. Amreek’s wife Paramjeet Kaur (56) is a home­maker, while their son Sukhwinder Singh (28) is a nurse at a hospital in Ludhiana city. Amreek gets up at 4 am every day to milk the cows and visits his fields next.

  • Breakfast Chapati, vegetable and lassi / paratha and dahi / tea
  • Lunch Chapati, dal, vegetable (mixed vegetable / bottle gourd / Indian round gourd / pumpkin / lady’s finger)
  • Dinner Chapati, dal, curd; milk before sleeping

Fruits are had once in two weeks; biscuits, chips and cold drink is consumed almost daily by the son.

Read Also: Opinion: Food For Thought


  • Consumption of milk and milk products is high
  • Dal in both meals


  • Fruits and green leafy vegetables are either too ­infrequent or absent
  • Junk food is very high on oils and sugar; it leads to diseases

Srivastava Family, Non-Vegetarian

Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh

Meetu Srivastava (39) is a librarian at a private college, while her husband Ajay Srivastava (46) is employed with a health insurance company. Their nine-year-old daughter studies in Class 4. Meetu has fixed working hours, while Ajay works from home as his company does not have an office in Kanpur. He was a district-level cricket player and the concern for fitness has stayed with him—he wakes up at 5 am and goes for jogging. Weekends are for meeting friends and the occasional movies.

  • Breakfast Bread and butter / bread pakoda / upma
  • Lunch Chapati, mixed dal, rice and zeera aloo / aloo ­capsicum, or paneer
  • Dinner Khichdi / aloo, chapati and rice / chicken

Meetu is vegetarian, Ajay isn’t. They have fruits once a week.


  • Tuber (potato in this case) consumption is good, but not in excess
  • Chicken is a good source of protein, vitamins and iron


  • Bread, made of refined wheat flour, every day in breakfast is not good
  • Green leafy vegetables missing
  • Fruits, if possible, should be had every day

Banerjee Family, Non-Vegetarian

Chinsurah, West Bengal

Tanmoy Banerjee (60) runs an agro-based business and spends almost two hours every day travelling in local trains. His wife Mithu Banerjee (48) is a homemaker and loves to cook. Their son Sayan Banerjee has done his Bachelor’s in Computer Application from Calcutta University and is exploring options for further studies. Tanmoy also takes a keen interest in politics.

  • Breakfast Tea, biscuits, mango puffed rice / tea, biscuits, chapati, vegetable
  • Lunch Rice, fish, masoor dal, potato, soybean / mutton, bitter gourd / fish, moong dal
  • Evening Tea, biscuit, puffed rice
  • Dinner Chapati, fried potato, pumpkin / pointed gourd / rice and mutton


  • Fish is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, and that’s good for the heart
  • The diet has variety


  • Too much rice
  • Green leafy ­vegetables are missing
  • Biscuits contain trans fats and are not good
  • Consumption of milk and milk ­products is low

Siddalingaiah  Family, Non-Vegetarian

Bangalore, Karnataka

Siddalingaiah runs a small shop in Gabbadi village, 32 km from Bangalore. His family comprises his wife (a homemaker) and his daughter, a chartered accountancy student. His married elder daughter lives separately.

  • Breakfast Dosa and chutney / chapati and aloo
  • Lunc: Ragi mudde with curry of lentils (tur dal with beans, tomato, potato, brinjal, ­turnips, carrots)
  • Dinner Ragi mudde with curry / rice with curry

Idli, dosa, veg pulao or chicken biryani is consumed roughly once a week.


  • Ragi (finger millet) is rich in calcium and iron
  • Chicken is good


  • Fruits are absent
  • Green leafy ­vegetables, milk and milk ­products are ­missing, though their ­consumption is high in Karnataka

Oza Family, Vegetarian

Ahmedabad, Gujarat

Rajubhai Oza (48) runs a graphic designing and printing business, while his wife Shilpa (45) is a homemaker. Their daughter Akanksha Oza  (22) is a civil engineer and was, until recently, working with the Metro project in Ahmedabad. At the moment, she is working on her plans for higher studies abroad. The other Oza child, Manav (18), is pursuing a diploma in mechanical engineering and is also a karate champion.

  • Breakfast Tea, bhakhri, khakhra
  • Lunch Chapati, vegetable, dal, rice / poori, aloo, aam ras
  • Dinner Chapati, aam ras, peas / dal wada / spinach, dal


  • High dal consumption means better protein intake
  • Vegetarianism means lower chance of hypertension and diabetes


  • Breakfast is limited
  • Should consume more green leafy vegetables and also other vegetables

Arora Family, Vegetarian

New Delhi

KL Arora (59) is a bank emp­loyee and lives in West Delhi. His wife Veena Arora (58) is a government emp­loyee, while their daughter, Niyati (25), is preparing for competitive exams. She has a Master’s in English literature and worked with a publishing house earlier. When they sit down together in the evening, they talk about the country’s politics, people in the extended family, and the latest flicks.

  • Breakfast Tea, paratha, watermelon / tea, roti, vegetable / milk, porridge
  • Lunch Chapati, vegetable (lady’s finger, ridge gourd, pumpkin, potato or capsicum)
  • Evening Tea, biscuit, rusk, laddoo/other sweet
  • Dinner Chapati, vegetable / paneer / poha / muskmelon / kulfi

Veena often has just fruit for dinner.


  • Dietary diversity is good
  • Fruit consumption is a healthy practice


  • Green leafy ­vegetables are missing

Choudhary Family, Non-Vegetarian

Guwahati, Assam

Ajanta Choudhary (41) is a badminton coach, while his wife Prarthana Hazarika (38) is a sports commentator. They have a son, Rhidhan Choudhary, who turned six this year.

  • Breakfast Oatmeal, suji / chapati, dal
  • Lunch Boiled vegetables, dal, local fish, rice, salad
  • Dinner Rice, fish and ­vegetables

Wife eats chapati and oatmeal for dinner. Very little oil is used in food.


  • Fish daily is good
  • Low oil ­consumption is a healthy practice


  • High rice ­consumption
  • Low milk ­consumption
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