Reviving the forgotten recipes of Jammu & Kashmir, the first traditional food and nutrition festival Aalaav where many novel recipes made from the uncultivated, edible and medicinal plants rich in antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and proteins were displayed.
These included Diad- e- Razma Sabzi (Rajma and fern), Butter Sochal & Nadroo (Mellow leaves and lotus stems), Lesse –te- soyabean sabzi (Red Amaranthus & Soybean), Wapal Hak- te- White Channa, Machran tea (Adder’s tongue), Traditional Massnather, Kun Haak te Nadeir, Nunneri Hakh, Dandelion leaves & Soya Bean Chunks curry, Kalyoth (Prunella vulgaris), Alle te Channa soup, Saffron Roti, Chir Tsot, Water chestnut roti, Nishasta Halwa, Mamek Ka Halwa and traditional Toosha.
All the traditional nutritious recipes were developed by the local women groups from far-flung areas of Baramulla, Kulgam and Jammu regions of J&K UT. The medicinal benefits of these herbs ranged from containing potent antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, cholesterol/triglyceride reducing, lowers blood pressure, boosts metabolism which is beneficial for liver health. The idea is to improve nutrition, conserve biodiversity while generating sustainable livelihoods. Some of the produces were very difficult to collect like the wild green plums or the wild raspberry from which squash and jam were made. Thorns would often prick the hands of our volunteers who would bleed while collecting them. During the process, local leadership has been augmented, volunteers who stay in these communities like Aabid, Shahila, Razia, Jabeena & Humerah are being shaped to become the next generation of bio-entrepreneurs.
In a first of its kind, The Traditional Food Festival was held in Kashmir. The 3-day long festival entitled “Aalaav” was organized by Jammu and Kashmir National Rural Livelihood Mission (JKRLM in collaboration with Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network (GIAN) under the Himalayan Bio-resource Mission by the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India.
The festival was inaugurated by Commissioner Secretary Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Mandeep Kaur and Padma Shree Prof. Anil K who is the Founder of Honey Bee Network and the brain behind the innovation organizations of India like GIAN, NIF & SRISITI, at Boulevard Road along the famous Dal Lake on 23rd of Sept. 2022. Divisional Commissioner Kashmir-Pandurang K Pole, Mission Director National Rural Livelihood Mission J&K- Indu Kanwal Chib, Dr. Anamika Dey CEO GIAN, Deputy Commissioner Srinagar- Aijaz Assad, SSP Srinagar-Rakesh Balwal, Additional Mission Director JKRLM Kashmir-Riyaz Beigh along with other dignitaries were also present to grace the occasion.
In order to encourage the talent of grassroots innovators in the valley, SKUAST-K besides providing an active role in the value addition process, also sponsored the transportation and accommodation of all the participants during the festival. SKUAST-Kashmir is one of the leading farm universities in India that caters to North-Western Himalayan hills and mountain agriculture.
Prof Nazir Ahmad Ganai VC-SKUAST said that, “We are ready to support GIAN’s initiative to help UT JK in achieving food and nutritional security and our department will provide full support towards improving overall quality of life encompassing food, nutritional and economic security.”
Regarding the in-situ value addition of bio-resources available in Baramulla district, Prof Anil Gupta, Founder, GIAN said that, “We will continue to provide sustained market link that will help local communities to generate livelihood from their local bio resources and traditional knowledge”. Commissioner Secretary Rural Ms. Mandeep Kaur while encouraging the rural women to come forward and gain financial independence, said, “Women in rural areas will be provided market access for marketing their traditional food products”.
While appreciating the role of Grassroots Innovations Augmentation Network (GIAN) in mapping the resources, knowledge management and creating of 10 women-FPO/Producer groups in areas like agriculture, Herbal Products, dairy & herbal Tea & Beverages. MD JKRLM Ms. Indu Chib said, “JKRM will provide every possible support for the result- oriented success of these innovative projects for the larger benefit of society and upliftment of women”.