Read full article By Haima Deshpande@ OutlookIndia Photo Credit: Amit Haralkar
The poor man’s food from the drought-hit belt of Marathwada is in the spotlight owing to its new status as superfood. While the elite love it for its health benefits, the poor need it to survive.
Drought has been a constant companion in the life of 50-year-old Janabai Shakare, a resident of Beed taluka in the drought-prone Marathwada region of Maharashtra. Her youth, she said, was spent lamenting on the vagaries of living in a drought-hit area with little access to potable water and accompanying hardships. She married a farmer from a village about 100 kms from her maternal home, only to be living in another village with parched lands.
Overs the years, Janabai’s kitchen has become her laboratory where she experiments with foods that grow in the drought-hit region of Beed, to make tasty preparations for her husband and children.
“I have to make do with whatever is available. I started making various preparations from millets using different wet and dry mixes. They are tasty and keep my children full,” said Janabai, in a telephone conversation with Outlook from Beed.
She said, “Bhakri, thecha, pitla and varan are our main food. I use these in different combinations.”
The food in the drought-prone region of Marathwada is inspired by its climate, landscape and culture, like in the other parts of the state. The landscape of these areas presents a patchwork of food habits. Hardy crops such as jowar (sorghum) and bajra (pearl millet) thrive here.
Traditional foods of Marathwada include varan phal (small roundels of millet flour floating in pressured cooked dal of medium consistency, prepared with turmeric, salt and garnished with cumin seeds), bajrichya mutkya (noodles made from pearl millet flour fried in oil, tempered with green chillies, mustard, turmeric and salt), amti (toor dal with a dash of tadka), methichi gola bhaji (fenugreek greens mixed with gram flour and shaped into small balls, fried and cooked into a onion and tomato based gravy), chilli-garlic thecha (chutney packed with tempered ground red or green chillies and raw garlic with salt), bhakri (a coarse unleavened flat bread made of jowar or bajra cooked on a broad skillet or tawa) and bharleli wangi (brinjal stuffed with a mix of roasted and powdered groundnuts, garam masala, salt, turmeric, finely chopped onions and cooked in a wok).