‘Gadh Bhoj’: A social activist’s mission to popularize traditional food of Uttarakhand

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At the height of the Uttarakhand statehood movement in the 1990s, the hills often resonated with “”. Kodu will eat Jhangura, Uttarakhand will be formed.” slogan, recalls Dwarika Prasad Simwal, a social activist who has embarked on a mission to popularize the traditional cuisine of the state.

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The slogan appealed to Mr Semwal, then a young man helping his father run a small eatery that often served tasty local dishes. Mandova‘And’ Jhangura‘ (a type of millet) grown abundantly in the village.

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“Though only 18 or 19 at the time, I had no doubt that the struggle for statehood was a movement for a separate identity for Uttarakhand and its traditional foods and dishes were an integral part of it,” Mr. Samwal said. PTI in an interview.

Culture meets taste.

When Uttarakhand was created in 2000, Mr. Semwal’s strong belief in the delicious taste and high nutritional value of traditional hill food led him on a mission to popularize a typical Uttarakhand. The plateThe name ‘made of the delicacies of the mountains’ Garh Bhoj

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The aim was two-fold – to keep the state’s culture alive by helping people develop a taste for traditional Uttarakhandi cuisine and to promote the cultivation of local crops, especially millet-based produce, by creating a market for them.

Twenty-three years later, Mr. Samuel has a sense of accomplishment. Kodo, Jhangura, Mandova And dishes made from these crops, which grow abundantly in the state, are served as part of lunch to students in public schools across the state at least once a week.

Garh Bhoj Traditional foods such as ” Mandu’s Halwa“, ” Jhangur pudding“, ” Swale’s Puri“, ” gahat ka fano“, ” The moth of Gahat“And” Homemade breadHe said that now it can be seen in all the cultural fairs of Uttarakhand.

Government pressure

The state government has issued orders to purchase 9,600 metric tonnes of mandova to supply schools. Minimum Support Price (MSP) for above ₹3,500 per quintal Shaved has also been announced.

Read this also The Center may announce a ‘benchmark price’ for minor jowar.

Mr. Samwal sees the Centre’s decision. Celebrate 2023-24 as Millet Year. And then the state cabinet’s recent approval of the Uttarakhand Millet Mission is a testament to the collective efforts of activists like him and subsequent governments to promote local food and agricultural production. As a result.

The millet mission of the state government will facilitate the monthly distribution of one kg of millet to every Antyodia family through the public distribution system.

“Such an effort by the government will create a bigger market for millet and promote its cultivation by our farmers besides strengthening the rural economy and prevent continuous migration from hill villages,” said Mr. Semwal. will.”

Uttarakhand Police has also made its 365 canteens in the state mandatory for service. Garh Bhoj He said that at least once a week consists of special dishes of the state which are served to its officials.

Garh Bhoj It has also been put on the menu of hospitals.

Uttarakhand Bhawan also operates in Mumbai. Garh Bhoj He said that items twice a week.

“Traditional foods and dishes of Uttarakhand besides being delicious are high in nutrition and help boost immunity. This was one of the reasons for their increased consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mr. Semwal. Samuel said.

Shaved And Jhangura Good for diabetes, Gahat or Kalthi Soup for kidney stones and ‘Cholai Majli’ for early stage cancer,” said Mr Simwal, highlighting the medicinal properties of traditional crops of Uttarakhand and the dishes made from them.

Similarly, “Jhangur puddingHe said it was good for the liver and recommended as a sure cure for jaundice.

Read this also The Union Budget left the state’s sorghum farmers, especially ragi farmers, disappointed in the International Year of Sorghum.

Successive state governments have extended generous support to Mr. Simwal’s campaign. Former Chief Minister Harish Rawat had agreed in principle to grant the status of state food. Garh Bhoj In 2015, he said.

However, before he could do so, his tenure ended.

Former DGP Anil Rathore and his immediate successor Ashok Kumar were instrumental in making police canteens mandatory once a week, while his inclusion in the mid-day meal scheme was supported by Education Minister Dhan Singh Rawat. It was not possible without. , said Mr. Samwal.

A long battle

However, this kind of acceptance and recognition Garh Bhoj did not come easily.

“We were ridiculed when we came up with the idea. Food addicts Lentil Rice, people also found it regressive to go back to traditional hill food. We had to struggle a lot to convince them about their health benefits,” said Mr. Simwal, whose NGO Himalaya Parivaran Jadiboti Agro Sansthan leads the campaign.

“First we involved women’s self-help groups to popularize local cuisine, then we involved the district administration in the exercise and gradually reached out to ministers who were very supportive,” she said.

“We also told people how to grow. Mandova And Jhangura They can be economically beneficial in the fields as they can be grown even in the absence of rains and are not destroyed by wild animals as they may not like their taste”, he said.

They were also told that growing. Mandova And Jhangura He said that the crops can give them good returns as their investment is low and yield is high.

“The support of the government made our work a little easier, especially former Chief Minister Harish Rawat, present Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, Cabinet Ministers Prem Chand Agarwal, Dhan Singh Rawat, DGP Ashok Kumar and their predecessors. Thanks to Anil Kumar Rathore for his active support to our campaign,” said Mr. Semwal.

He said that his campaign would get a boost from the budget’s emphasis on millet promotion and approval of the millet mission by the state cabinet.

He said that he would encourage more people in Uttarakhand hills to take up farming and strengthen their economy.

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