During my childhood years, ‘Beautiful Sunday’ was a very popular song by Usha Uthup. Over the years, across the world, Sundays have come to be a day of leisure, fun with family, for outings, household chores and so on. A few Sundays ago, with our extended family from the US, we decided to go on a food-crawl at the Sattvik food festival in Ahmedabad.Relishing and, at times, braving the wintery yet piercing sun, the first stop was for some spicy yet satisfying Kahwa, a spicy tea, all the way from Kashmir. The experience of Sattvik was one of having wholesome, healthy food with some very refreshing look, feel and presentation. Prof Anil Gupta, who along with Rameshbhai Patel has instituted Sattvik, thought of this very innovative way of tingling the imagination of people. They realised that a way to a human being’s heart and mind is through her stomach. Presenting virtuous, innovative and largely organic food to them would ignite their innovative quotient. And, voila, Sattvik took birth, fifteen years ago, and has been growing steadily over the years.To really bring in novelty, freshness and wholesome nutrition in the traditional food festival, the organisers have, over the years, made some rules. For example, none of the dishes at Sattvik have Maida, there is no non-vegetarian food or deep frying and no caterers or roadside vendors. This also brings farmers selling organic produce and consumers directly in contact. These farms are regularly tested and audited for ensuring that this is authentic organic food. Rameshbhai Patel adds that this is not an event but is a platform of positive energy. In his words, this has released a great deal of creativity and entrepreneurial skills of rural and urban women as well.This year’s festival had another special feature where young students of MG Science College prepared Mushroom Lassi and soup. While crawling across this treasure land of food, I especially savoured Konkani Sol-kadi, Thali-peeth, Pooran-poli and some tender Ponk. The food from Dangs, especially the Nagli or Ragi preparations, dishes of Desi maize from PanchMahals were a big hit. The special entries for the food contest this year were Muthiya made of Beet leaves, Rotis made of raw bananas, pudding made with Tulsi or holy thyme, Chikki made of Guava and berries, Phirni or kheer made of barley flour.The healthy beverages included queer and unusual drinks such as juice of Sattu, soup of lemon and coriander, Saptaparni or Alistonia shorbet and Hibiscus tea. Over hundred traditional dishes were available across the eighty stalls of traditional food.As shared by Rameshbhai, such initiatives also help shape the behavioural preferences of people. As seen, many people today prefer multigrain flour, Nagli biscuits and products as well as brown rice and such other healthy food grains. Such events also help the dividends and earnings directly reach the pockets of villagers, rather than going to middlemen or contractors. As we collectively decide to parse and redefine ‘safe and nutritious’ foods, such food festivals at various levels play a very important role in shaping people’s choices and behaviour. The sprouting and mushrooming of such food festivals across various cities, towns and villages of the country would go a long way in making Sattvik food more acceptable and attractive. Expressing our deep gratitude for the inspiring work started by Prof Anil Gupta and Rameshbhai Patel, let’s hope this movement spreads across the country. That way, our Sundays could be spiced with some exotic, healthy and fun food for the belly and soul.
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