Sattvik food festival set to celebrate ethnic food

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AHMEDABAD: As 2016 draws to a close, the city braces itself for a healthy-yet-sumptuous treat for its taste buds at the 'Sattvik Food Festival'.

SRISTI has been organizing the festival for the past fourteen years; striving to make food healthier with every passing year. Among a host of delicacies on offer from all the states, Jammu and Kashmir is expected to lead the show with six stalls on the state's delectable food items like the 'Kashmiri Walnut', Kesar (Saffron) and the famous 'Kahwah' (Kashmiri green tea).

"Farmers find it difficult to sell their crop in their region, so we're giving them an opportunity. We have invited farmers who have yielded the crop from organic fields which are verified by us", said Ramesh Patel, secretary of SRISTI.

"As our society has progressed, nutrition has taken a hit. There are people grappling with cholesterol-related problems and other health issues. Our sole purpose through this festival is to promote 'Sattvik Bhojan' (a healthy diet) among the people," added Patel.

The event is taking place at the AES ground from December 24-26. Food items made from 'maida' and cottonseed oil are prohibited in the festival. Taking into account the government's push for cashless transactions, SRISTI will provide PoS (point of sale) machines and transactions through Paytm.

There are 150 stalls registered in the event this year. There will be 75 food stalls which will put on sale packaged foods like Ragi biscuits and Ragi papad. Specialities like 'Makai na Paania' (corn fritters), 'Jowar no Ponkh' (similar to 'Bhel') and Valsad's famed 'Umbariyu' (mixed vegetable dish similar to 'Undhiyu') will also be available.

The 'Recipe Contest' had witnessed 75 competitors, almost double the number of last year. About 500 varieties of dishes will be on display this year.

Spirulina-laden idli

One of the stalls features MG Microbes. The students of MG Science College, under the Gujarat University, blended exquisite taste with scientific nutrition as they came up with a 'bacterial' alternative to regular diet. Nazir Ahmed (20) of the microbiology department, accompanied by his friends Harsh Mehta (19) and Tirth Thakkar (24) who are pursuing biochemistry and biotechnology, explored the idea of using science in Indian dishes. The bacteria used in their food is known as spirulina. It is a bacterium that can be consumed by humans and animals. "One kg of spirulina is equivalent to 1,000 kg of vegetables," said Nazir. "It contains protein and NASA scientists consume spirulina tablets as food in space." It costs around Rs 3,000 per kg. The students said that it took them six months to determine how much bacteria can be used in the dishes. Excess of protein can lead to loose motions. The trio has introduced 'Spirulina Lassi', 'Spirulina Idli' and 'Spirulina Chocolates'. Their dessert, 'Spirulina Bhog', is a mixture of milk, mushroom pieces, and custard frozen at 78 degree celsius in dry ice.

Cactus ice-cream from special kids

This year, 14 children, aged between 13 and 18 years, from a special school, are going to treat people at the food festival with cactus fruit ice-cream, juice, and kulfi. They will also serve ice cream varieties such as like coconut, dates, and sugarcane. These students are from Dhedhuki, a village in Rajkot, and study at 'K shala' run by Lokmitra organization. Chaitanya, their supervisor, said that the children are given practical and project-based learning and are self-taught. "There are no books in this special school," Chaitanya said.