Unsung cuisine of the tribal community

Unsung cuisine of the tribal community



The Oram Tribal Community of Odisha follows the Adi Dharam and hence are nature worshippers. Their respect and love for resources & ingredients and knowledge about medicinal properties of certain vegetables. I have never seen in my life nor did anyone else, is incredible

To start with, “Red Ants”, Yes! Red Ants and their eggs form a part of their cuisine owing to its high protein content and is known as “Demta”. When the proportion of ant to egg is more, it’s made into a chutney, else consumed as a Bhaji like any other saag. We were lucky enough to clean live Ants, taste some raw and assist in cooking. The formic acid creates a tingling sensation but is an absolute killer dish! The tribal community always have had a better understanding of the natural resources and they knew how protein rich these ants are.

Gunghi as called in Sadri, are Rice paddy Apple Snails,boiled, shucked and served as a curry with bilati (tomatoes) and garlic. They use the least of spices in any dish, respecting the natural flavour. Why do people go crazy over French Snails? Escargot is right in our homeland. Generally picking the snails is an activity amongst the kids and shows the symbiotic relation between a rice paddy plant and the snails.

Our host also got us some Wild Mushrooms which according to them, grows once a year and is sourced from the forest. Such expensive priced out frozen mushrooms in Mumbai contrasts the beautiful freshly plucked mushrooms from the forest.

Wow! Bamboo shoots are also common though this is not north eastern India.

Another vegetable of ultimate surprise is this called “Gethi Kanda”, helps reduce diabetes and can be boiled and ate raw.

Usna Chawal, also called par boiled rice is close to brown rice in all its quality. Unlike the rice we are accustomed to, usna chawal has much higher glycemic index, digests slowly and hence no sugar surge in the body. It also takes long to digest & gives a satiating effect to the body. The tribals were little hesitant in feeding us this rice considering we are not accustomed to this. However turned out to be an instant favourite!

At a time when the world is going crazy over Farm to Table concepts, we should all ponder upon the lifestyle of these tribal society and document how wonderfully freshly their resources are and their respect for the concept of Locavore.
With such mellifluous diversity in gastronomy, it’s time to sing the song of cuisine not sung for long!
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