Himachal heads India in apple production. Captain RC Lee and Alexander Coutts introduced the British variety of apple at Kullu valley and Shimla respectively in mid-nineteenth century. But apple revolution here started when Samuel Evan Stokes, later Satyanand Stokes, brought an apple sapling from America in 1920 and grew it at Kotgarh in Shimla District. None had believed that it would bring prosperity to this Hill State. It did. People took fancy to horticulture and the State soon became Apple State of India. It, today, grows a variety of best apples in India including Red Delicious, Golden and Yellow Newton. With citrus in valleys, grapes in high hills, mangoes, litchis, strawberries, apricots, peaches, cherries, pears in warmer and temperate regions, it is Fruit Bowl of the country. Kiwi and olive are steadily making their presence felt.
Fruits are eaten raw as dessert. Fruit that is less presentable is processed and converted into juices, drinks, jams etc. Apple drinks are most popular.
Even vegetables do not take backseat in the region. Solan, a district touching the plains in the north, supplies vegetables to the hot and dry plains in summers. The town of Solan is known as 'Mushroom City of India' for growing button mushrooms. The naturally grown mushrooms in the forests, called guchhi, have no parallels in taste and guchhi-pulao, fried rice with guchhi, can easily be the prized gourmet item in any aristocracy. Shimla, the capital of Himachal Pradesh today and also that of British ruled India, is linked with two vegetables- Capsicum and Peas. The British in early 19th Century brought seeds of vegetables with them. These moved from bungalow gardens to native fields and gained popularity throughout India. Though now grown elsewhere too, yet these vegetables are sold in India with prefix Shimla. No loubt, capsicum and peas grown in Shimla and around are tastier owing to reasons of soil and climate.
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