Forgotten Flavours of Tami Nadu - Millet/Natural food festival 2015

The words millet/organic/natural foods are the talk of the town now. Every other street in happening areas have an organic food store that sells millets and other natural foods. Millets are small grain that are high in nutrition, non glutinous and alkaline (non-acidic) in nature. They are high in minerals and fibres. The common millets available in market are Finger millet - Ragi, Foxtail millet - Thinai, Barnyard millet - kuthiraivali, Kodo millet - varagu, pearl millet - kambu, Sorgam - Cholam.

My childhood association with millets starts from the time dad was diagnosed with diabetes. Mom used to make ragi/kambu koozh during summer and ragi adai during winter season. For the past 1.5 years I've been taking millet in my regular diet atleast twice/thrice a week. Of course, hubby doesn't like them, so I sneak them in the form of adai/dosai or upma. I swear to him that it is made of rice only till the plate is empty :P

Have been hearing the work of Poovulagin Nanbargal, an organisation that works towards the welfare of people and nature. They organise one day seminar on selected topics every year. Along with the seminar, they also organise a millet/natural food festival in association with Nalla soru. This year it happened in M.G.R Janaki college, Adyar on 15th March. Apart from the seminar and the food festival, they have stalls that sells organic products, seeds, manures, books etc,

We reached the venue by 7pm and spent some time visiting the stalls. The food counters were opened by 7.30pm. I registered online for the tickets. A meal ticket costs Rs. 300 (for both veg & non-veg). They've arranged 5 counters each for veg & non- veg section. It was kind of a buffet meal. There was a huge crowd. Lets jump to the food. Some of the foods, millets in particular, I've already had elsewhere. So I kind of knew how it would taste. Some products I had no clue how it would taste. So I'm just registering what I felt while having them. This was the menu :

1. பீற்கன்காய் சாமை சாறு - Ridge gourd & Little millet soup. A thin soup which was hot n spicy. Loved the flavour.

2. குதிரைவாலி கேசரி - Barnyard millet kesari - Perfect sweetness with loads of fried raisins.

3. கேழ்வரகு பாயாசம் - Finger millet kheer - Was okay. Felt the moong dal & coconut combination dominating the finger millet flavour.

4. காராமணி தயிர் பக்கோடா - Cow peas & curd pakoras/fritters - This one was the star of the meal. Crunchy on the outside, soft and juicy on the inside, oozing with the flavour of a little sour curd it was just yumm.

5. சாமை காய்கறி பிரியாணி - Little millet vegetable biriyani. - Good with perfectly boiled veggies ans masalas.

6. வெண்பூசணி பச்சடி - Pumpkin raitha - After seeing the menu only I realised it was pumpkin raitha. It had more of onions and very little traces of pumpkin.

7. சீரகசம்பா கார புட்டு - Seeraga samba rice (yeah the one we use in South Indian biriyanis) spicy puttu. This was very dry and tasted raw too.

8. மாப்பிள்ளைச்சம்பா கத்திரிக்காய் சோறு - Mappillai samba & brinjal rice. I'm not a big fan of brinjal. This item was bland and lacked flavour.

9. கதம்பக்காய் கூட்டு - Mixed veggie & dal curry - This one was lip-smacking yumm. All the country vegetables used gave a nice crunch to the semi gravy and was a bit spicy. But too good.

10. கறுப்பு கவுனி அவல் இனிப்பு பிரட்டல் - Kavuni arisi aval (flattened kavuni rice) with coconut and jaggery - This one tasted good.

11. பனிவரகு தயிர்ச் சோறு - Proso millet curd rice. A bit starchy, it was okay with pomegranate, fried onions and ginger.

12. சோள தோசை - Sorghum dosai. This was prepared in live counters. Nicely fermented batter made into small thick dosais tasted great with groundnut chutney

12.  நிலக்கடலைத் துவையல் - Groundnut/peanut chutney. Tasted very nice and paired up well with the dosai.
13. நாட்டுக்கோழி வறுவல் - Country chicken fry - Absolutely yumm and mouthwatering dish. The flavours from small onions and saunf blended well with the meat and tasted good.

Altogether, the meal was good for Rs.300. But the overall dining experience was not that good. I understand, it is difficult to provide a perfect experience, when there is a huge crowd. Still things like, more chairs/tables can be arranged. I really appreciate their idea of keeping 5 counters for the food, so that the crowd is not concentrated at a single point. Still they can give space between the counters or the counters can be set separately. I saw lot of people dropping their plate while bumping on each other :( Partitioned plated will do more good. If not atleast some more cups will prevent the foods mixing up with each other due to lack of space in the plate. I know these are just minor issues, which can be taken care next time.

For the sole purpose of attempting to make the millets/natural foods reach more people, the effort of Poovulagin Nanbargal & Nalla Soru has to be appreciated. Good job team. Looking forward for the next year eagerly. 


Reader's Comments

  1. Can I get the contact details of the organisers ?
    It could be nice if they add items with more shapes and textures like Kozhukattai, Mapillai Samba idly, Kuzhai Puttu.

  2. Hi, the above recipe are really impressive and yummy. Its really healthy food compare to pizza and burger. This is great post. I like the way of your writing. Thanks for sharing this information. Keep blogging.

    Sathish from Organic Ghee Online