Taste Your Health at the Food Festival in Udaipur

Food Fest Welcome

A two day food festival has been organised in the city by Shikshantar, a Non Profit organisation on the theme of Jaso Ann, Vaso Man or You are what you eat. The fest has been organised in the Hanuman Temple at Devali near Fateh Sagar between 4-8 p.m. in the evening. Being a variety food lover I made up my mind to visit the place. When I went there I was warmly welcomed by Mr. Manish Jain, the co-founder of Shikshantar. There were many stalls with mouth watering dishes.

Food Fest Banner

The dishes were few famous national and international cuisines we have often heard of, but they have been modified with the local and healthier contents.  To begin with, I started with Tacos, originally a Mexican dish, but modified as per the regional grains and vegetation stuffs of Rajasthan. The crispy base was prepared of the “Khakhra” and the topping of salads and “Rajma” or red kidney beans. The next attraction was of the Veg Kababs made of beetroot or “Chukandar”, with a nice blend of flavours of coconut and coriander chutney.

The cookie sandwiches made of Mal, Ragi or Finger Millet and fresh fruits stuffed within redefined my dictionary meaning of sweet dish, to a healthier one. Sweet dish made of sanwa, a local foodstuff,  coconut laddoos, pineapple puddings, Jwar ki kheer,  pinapple and Sabudana Kheer , Kokam Sharbat (Squash made of kokam) and Pina Colada (A blend of coconut milk and pineapple juice), Ragi steam bread sandwitches, etc  were few more delicious, yet healthy food items present at the fest.

Mal Cookie Sandwitches
Mal Cookie Sandwitches
Veg Beetroot Kababs With Coriander and Coconut Chutney
Veg Beetroot Kababs With Coriander and Coconut Chutney
Mr. Manish Jain (In Kurta) explaining the qualities and nessecity of Healthy food
Mr. Manish Jain (In Kurta) explaining the qualities and nessecity of Healthy food

“Fast food has always harmed the healthy living. This food fest is in support of the concept of Slow Food movement, or the movement for switching to our home made food with local food stuffs. Today the high price we are paying for our eatables in the market is actually for the bulk amount of pesticides, insecticides, and harmful chemicals which eventually make way to our stomach. The crops like Ragi, Mal, Bajra are available locally and has been grown in villages and tribal areas from ancient times in this region. They have capacity to withstand intense climate changes. They are not so often attacked by insects, pests, etc and have great nutritive values, much greater than our conventional sources such as wheat, milk etc. These things just need to be promoted to the common masses, who want to sustain with a healthy living”

-Manish Jain

I met the enthusiastic team behind this innovative concept. The concept was coined by Manoj Prajapat and Surendra Gandharva, popularly known as Sunny. The team is energetic, confident, determined, and making every effort to promote the healthy living.

“I started working on the concept of Healthy food and healthy alternatives to fast food with Manoj Prajapat. We have worked for many years, and evolved with our idea, and made them better day by day. All the dishes presented here are cooked in zero oil and zero fat (Ghee/Butter), all the stuffs are either in their raw forms or steamed, as every nutritive value is lost on frying or cooking. We haven’t even used the cow’s milk, so as to ensure zero animal content. Coconut milk has been used as its alternative. In the sweet dishes, every care has been taken care of to ensure that there is minimal usage of additional sweeteners, and the natural sweetness has been emphasized. Still, wherever needed, we have used Gud and Misri instead of sugar.”

– Surendra Gandharva

The Food Fest will be continuing today also, with an entirely different menu than yesterday. This fest is open to all. This is a healthy initiative, and I recommend all to give a visit and taste the health. 🙂

A Holi Close to Our Roots

Heartiest greetings on the colourful occasion of Holi. We all know the importance of Holi as well as the story behind celebrating Holi as well as Holika Dehen. It dates back to very ancient history and mythology when king Hiranyakashayp ordered his son Prahlad to be burnt who was a devotee of Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashyap’s sister Holika consented to accompany Prahlad in the fire as she had a blessing that no fire could ever burn her so as to ensure his demise.  Holika sat on pyre with Prahalad. Holika burnt alive while Prahalad was saved by the Lord.

But now-a-days we are going far away from our roots, our culture. The traditions have either become a formality, or a commercial venture, or rather an extinct or endangered culture. In deep thoughts about the same, I visited a small village/rural area to find out if the culture still alive, and to my surprise, yes it was.

The place I visited was a developing rural area in the interiors of the village Shobhagpura in Udaipur. This remote area witnessed the concrete roads for the first time just before few months. Here all the villagers and other people live in true harmony. I was welcomed by Mr. Gopal Prasad, an independent journalist, who has settled here in search of peace.

It was about 7.15 in the evening; small girls were seen making rangolis near the location. Village ladies and housewives were seen worshipping the structure. Slowly the crowd started to gather, and as happens every year, the worship and rituals were performed by the eldest person living in the village, who fired up the Holika.

Holi in a village

In next few minutes the entire area was filled with light and heat of the huge fire. Mr. Gopal informed that the villagers offer a share of the new harvest of wheat to the fire, and the roasted wheat grains so obtained is distributed to all as the Prasad. Any newborn baby is also made to revolve around the holy fire. It is believed that all the evil forces are burnt away with the fire and the spirit becomes pure and clean.

Eldest member of the Village performing the Rituals
Eldest member of the Village performing the Rituals

Eldest member of the Village performing the Rituals

Holika Dehen Rituals being performed
Holika Dehen Rituals being performed

Holi in a villageHoli in a villageHoli in a village

offering the first harvest of wheat to the fire
Offering the first harvest of wheat to the fire

Finally I was happy on my way back home. All i was taking along with me was not only the roasted wheat grains, but were memories, a warm, friendly welcome at the village, more knowledge about our cultures, and an entirely different Holi to remember for the lifetime.

Wishing everyone a very Happy, Colourful and Safe Holi. Enjoy a lot but remember to Save Water 🙂