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Palate cold to tribal cuisine - Traditional delicacies from state still low on mainstream food list

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PARVINDER BHATIA   |   Boulevard   |   Published 13.01.05, 12:00 AM

Jamshedpur, Jan.12: Chew on these ? Baske Daka, Moonj Ada, Hetla, Rohad Haku! Not exactly food for thought, but traditional recipes from Jharkhand.

The repast, which the tribals have been enjoying over the years, is yet to be on the menu even after the creation of the new state.

As the tribals gear up to celebrate Tusu and welcome the new harvest, hotels and restaurants, which were hitherto going overboard with regional carnival themes, have nothing to offer to the tribals.

The Punjabi, Gujarati, and south Indian delicacies, a hit with the food buffs, are part of every food festival or mela, but when it comes to the Jharkhandi khana, most hoteliers are not only ignorant, but many have not even heard about the names of the tribal food.

?We are ignorant about the traditional tribal food. I think Jharkhand is a new state and it will take some time before its culture and food can reach the common people and served in hotels,? said James Bernaud, manager, Ganga International.

He said hoteliers cannot only be blamed for this. ?I do not think people will come to our hotels, even if we organise tribal food festival. People, including the tribals are more interested in eating Chinese and continental dishes, so there is no use organising such festivals,? Bernaud said.

Though western cuisine rules the roost everywhere, the tribals continue to enjoy their traditional menu at home. According to community members, since they have always remain close to the nature the recipes comprise more natural products, which are not only tasty but nutritious, too.

?Baske Daka? together with ?Moonj Ada? is the staple diet of the tribals. While Baske Daka is starched rice, Moonj Ada is made of pulses. Since starched rice contains carbohydrates, tribals are always on the lookout. Moonj Ada is a spicy dal, cooked over a low flame with a dash of lemon and chilli for flavour.

?Hetla? is another food item made of bamboo plants. The young plant is cut into pieces and cooked as vegetables, which is taken with Baske Daka and chapatis. Tribals also have a taste for non-vegetarian food. Rohad Haku is a dish of fried fish. The fish is dried in the sun and then stir fried in oil. Lemon and vinegar are added to it to make it spicy. The cripsy Rohad Haku is usually taken with chapatis.

Says Ronald D?costa, proprietor of Hotel Boulevard: ?Tribals of our state have a rich cuisine of their own. I have tasted some of theri dishes, which were mouth watering. It is essential for the community to create awareness about their cuisine so that the hotels and restaurants can also follow it.?

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