Wonders from tribal kitchens of India


New Delhi
Ever realised that eating a piece of tuber could help fight hunger for an entire day? Or that consuming a handful of millets can subside the labour pains of a pregnant woman?

In an attempt to introduce the unknown miracles of tribal communities to the national capital, tribal people from 7 states recently spread out platters of wild herbs, vegetables, spices, beans and pulses at a recent selling exhibition here.

The event "From forest to Delhi" was part of the just concluded CMS Vatavaran, Environment and Wildlife Film festival here.

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"The tribals collect from forests, at least 30 per cent of their food, which are highly nutritious. In times of crises. when cultivation suffers and crops fail, forest food gives you the buffer to sustain till emergency relief come," says Debajit Sarangi, associated with an organisation Living Farms.

"The idea for organising this exhibition-cum-interactive session with tribals was to sensitise people in the policy circles about the importance of conserving foods that are certified as highly nutritious by the National Institute of Nutrition. It is important in the age of crises when people are facing serious issuesl like malnutrition and poverty" Sarangi said.

"Gandhiya" millets of Odisha have medicinal qualities to help a pregnant woman while delivery and "Pitharu Kandha" (a tuber) from Madhya Pradesh is fulfilling enough to go without eating for the whole day, claims the tribals there.

"The farmers who work in the field for longer ours without eating have this Pithora Kandha that is a uncultivated tuber found in the forest and can go without eating anything for the whole day. It is that nutritious and fulfilling," said Nandkumar Yadav of Saiga tribes, Madhya Pradesh.

Tribals of Jharkhand, Odisha, Uttrakhand, Nagaland, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Rajasthan have brought organic and uncultivated forest produce that are the part of daily supper.

From Odisha's Kanda tribe's Mudhi (red and white variant of Lobiya beans) to Nagaland's Chakhesang community's Hamu (a variety of pumpkin comes in Apple's size). Wild Jack fruit Jam made by Souria-Pahariya's of Jharkhand to the essential skin oils from Uttrakhand's forest were displayed

"As a filmmaker I have made four films on farmers but later we realised that making films and talking about it is not enough. People watch films and forget about it. So we came up with the idea to put a haat here because somebody who comes here cannot forget this experience for a while," says Kavita Bahl, an independent filmmaker and the director of a National Award winning film "I cannot give you my forest".

"It's important to create a market for these products before they lose their natural habitats and essence," she said.

First Published: Oct 16 2015 | 2:57 PM IST

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