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HomeNewsThe Nilgiris Wild Food Festival begins on December 19 in Udhagamandalam

The Nilgiris Wild Food Festival begins on December 19 in Udhagamandalam

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On day one of the four-day Nilgiris Wild Food Festival, which begins on December 19, participants will be served a farm-to-table meal of buttery jackfruit stir fry, mixed bean sambar with foraged greens and tubers, and heirloom foxtail millet. 

The traditional meal is prepared on firewood by Irulas, an indigenous farming and beekeeping community of the Nilgiris.After a guided forest walk on their ancestral lands in the southern Nilgiris, the food is served on teak leaves. Participants will also learn about heirloom produce and traditional farming practices.

“It’s time we looked at foraging and produce that is abundantly available around us, rather than buying industrialized foods,” says Ramya Reddy, director of The Nilgiris Foundation (TNF), adding that the festival focuses on mindful ways of gathering and consuming food. “The indigenous communities have a natural instinct for foraging for food that is seasonal.

” We hope that the festival will draw attention to foraging, wild foods, the role of wild foods in a climate-changed world, sustainable farming, and sustainable eating. “To get our food, we need to start looking at smaller farms and small holdings.”

At sundown, there will be Badaga music by playback singer Belli Raj and his family (who sang the popular Tamil song Kangal Irandal), a lecture and discussion on food culture, and a one-pot dinner with chicken curry, beans curry, and rice. Participants will be able to try ragi balls with garlic and tree tomato chutneys, uppu korai (roasted and salted beans), benni koo (millets with butter), keerai hittu (an amaranthus leaf snack), potti hittu (wheat pancakes), and sutta badu (smoked meats).

On the third day, chefs Abhijit and Arup Kakati will collaborate to offer an innovative menu featuring seasonal produce for multi-course sit-down meals. Lunch and dinner are included at Le Cafe, Little Earth, in Udhagamandalam. The menu includes everything from lemongrass-infused tartlets and bamboo shoot pickle on tapioca crisps to wild mushroom ravioli and passion fruit granita. “It’s a combination of local ingredients prepared in a European style.” In a modern Italian twist, we used artichokes and beans. “We also used lavender grown locally,” says Arup. The festival concludes with a Chef’s Table sit-down dinner hosted by Udhagamandalam’s Periodic Table Restaurant.

According to Pratim, the festival opens a door to anyone interested in mindful living and helps build momentum for the sustainability movement. “After witnessing the devastation caused by climate change and the pandemic, people are seeking answers.” “Food brings people together and sparks discussions about not only wild, indigenous, and organic foods but also ecology, health, nutrition, and sustainable living.”

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