Sukinda : From preparing forgotten indigenous recipes to cooking in earthen pots over wood fires, and serving on leaves of native plants, the daylong Prajatiya Khadyotsav was hosted at Tata Steel Mining’s Sukinda Chromite Mine was a wake-up call for gastronomes. The food festival hosted by Tata Steel Foundation in conjunction with Tata Steel Mining’s CSR team provided an opportunity for food lovers to satiate their taste buds as 30 home cooks created mouth-watering indigenous agro-forest food and local delicacies of Odisha. The food festival was an attempt to promote and preserve local traditional agro-forest cooking practices and recipes.
The event was graced by the presence of dignitaries like Mr. Pankaj Satija, Managing Director of Tata Steel Mining, Dr. Ambika Prasad Nanda, Head, CSR, Odisha, Tata Steel and subject experts like Dr. Paramanda Patel, Padmashri Daitri Nayak, Mr. Debashis Pradhan along with various representatives of the local villages.
Speaking at the event Mr. Pankaj Satija, Managing Director of Tata Steel Mining said “Indigenous agro-forest food varieties have become even more relevant in today’s lifestyle due to the nutritional values that they provide. Tata Steel Mining is celebrating the rich traditional food diversity practiced for centuries by the communities of Odisha through this program. I thank all the participants and dignitaries for making this event a success.”
The home cooks came together to explore agro-forest food techniques prevalent in their communities. A number of interesting recipes were prepared during the workshop including rare items like Black carpenter ant chutney, bamboo shoot pickle and country chicken khichdi among others. The day-long event was followed by various local agro-forest dance forms like Ghumra amongst others.
There were varieties of traditional cake called “pitha” (in local parlance) on the platter and items using roots, tubers and much more which the local communities living in forest areas have been using for ages were prepared. More than 30 local delicacies were prepared at the festival. Also present were chefs working on agro-forest cuisine who shared about expanding culinary boundaries and ensuring that young people take notice. These home cooks hailing from tribal communities of Sundergarh, Mayurbhanj, Balasore, Jajpur and Keonjhar brought to the table varied flavours.
Amrita Ekka from Sundergarh tried fusion recipes using the staple ingredient, Mandia or millet, prevailing in their practices. Hailing from the Oraon tribe, she loves to cook and has been trying out a number of recipes. “I am trying to make rasgulla and dhokla using mandia. I am sure people will love it,” says Amrita.
The festival is aimed to make people understand about the food habits of indigenous communities living in and around forest areas while highlighting their sustainable way of growing food and its relationship with their ecology land, plants, animals and forests. The festival was an eye-opener for many visitors, who got to know that there are hundreds of food items thriving across tribes in the state.