Sujith Nambiar, Ahmedabad: The 16th edition of the Sattvik Traditional Food Festival was organised by Ahmedabad-based NGO Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions (SRISTI) at Ahmedabad Education Society grounds at Bodakdev in the city from December 22 to 25. The idea behind this food festival is to popularise the consumption of minor millets like Jowar, Bajri, Ragi, Maize, Kodra, Bavta and Nagli and bring awareness about their nutritional value and taste amongst the people. Fifty women groups from Jammu-Kashmir, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Uttarakhand, Bihar, etc supported by the Ministry of Women and Child Development too have participated in this festival.

The festival has grown with every passing year as more and more people have been visiting the venue to try out forgotten traditional and healthy food items like multigrain baati chat, ponkh tikkis, makai vadas, jowar rotlos, ragi dosas, cheelni bhaji, bhedku, turmeric laddoo, jackfruit sukhadi and prickly pear (findla) juice. The food stalls had over 500 different cuisines ranging from savoury snacks to delectable sweets. The festival mandates stalls to have at least two dishes made out of millets. Visitors were seen enjoying items like five-grain Khichadi, ratalu-puri, vagharelo rotlo, ragi dhokla, Kesar dudh made out of Gir cow milk.

Ramesh Jain, whose wife Jyoti and sister-in-law Manisha had set up a stall selling delicacies made of Ragi and were busy dishing out their specialities to waiting customers, tells us, “My wife has always loved cooking. This is the first time we’ve set up a stall at the festival, though we’ve been visiting the festival for a long time. She’s doing it for her passion for healthy cooking and not to earn any profits out of the sale. The idea is to serve healthy food at a very reasonable rate. The response to our stall has been really encouraging and good.” The stall not just sold Ragi dosas but also items like Masala Ragi Crunchy bite, Multigrain Bati Chaat, Peanut and Mix Sprout bhel and a winter special soup.

Other than the food stalls, there was also Khedut Haat a farmers fair/market of organic and eco-friendly agro- products which sold items like millet flour, organic teas, chemical-free jaggery, cow ghee, organic spices, oils and some lesser known vegetables and fruits that are grown in the rural areas across India. The farmers market not only helped people get to know more about unknown/uncultivated crops, but even encouraged the participating farmers to interact amongst themselves and sell their produce directly to the consumers.

An exhibition of grassroots level innovations was organised to highlight the creativity of agriculture students and rural innovators. Traditional folk dances and musical performances and an exhibition of rural crafts and pottery too were held at the festival where items like clay pots and containers and paintings made with organic colors were a hit amongst shoppers.