AT THE GOA HOSPIALITY SHOW FROM AUG 18-20, 2022: The mesmerising bountiful produce of the north-estern states of India…this is at Manipur stall, wonderfully fresh knobs of ginger, turmeric and galangal; also variegated corncobs, hot ghost chilies bhoot jolokia and some more to beguile visitors! The produce is all sold off for a song on the last day evening while packing up but some folk book in advance for the entire lot of ginger or turmeric or whatever else which they can do business with.

By Tara Narayan

Eating is Fun / Eating is Yuck! – A variety food column

LAST Saturday at the 8th Goa Hospitality Show in town at the Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Indoor Stadium I discovered that it’s the best thing to do – replace tea, coffee and anything else with…er…ragi malt, hot and steaming and mildly sweet with jaggery (not refined sugar because it usage is becoming as dead as the dodo and nobody should promote refined white sugar, a purely industrial product, unless of course you want to promote a cancer-creating carcinogen because you hate humanity and want to put it on a slow road to perdition).
This is actually one of favourite shows to find out what’s new in the market on the foodie front, although it also comes along with some fascinating tourism department literature from around the country and when I look at it I wonder if I may run away to Bihar or Orissa or Jharkhand or Bhutan or even Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh for just a week’s holiday! It would certainly be nice Bihar these days since so many exciting things are happening there, and it would great to see the Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya and catch up with ancient Buddhism rooted here. Remember the heart and soul of our Indian tiranga is a the Ashoka chakra, tracing back to the Kalinga war when Emperor Ashoka decided he was sick and tired of bloody wars and converted to peaceful Buddhism!
BUT this is to tell you that tea and coffee down south Goa is rapidly being replaced by ragi malt drinks in various flavors, even chocolate. Ragi as in nachne or the most favoured millet of them all perhaps in the pantheon of millets which more and more folk in the right senses are pursuing for love of what will give them stronger body beautiful. This is a rather generous show and several manufacturing companies were offering sample tastes of this, that or other. So it was with steaming hot ragi malt and I accepted and sipped from one adequate white cardboard cup, and another…it was very agreeable I tell you.

FROM ODISHA WITH LOVE: A miracle of millets and palm jaggery of various denomination, nutritious and rich in minerals like calcium for good bones! The palm jaggry crystals or misri is superlativly delicious. Plus, now the Odisha Millets Missions has also come up with a range of millet snacks to compete with more common refined white flour snacks…here ar biscuits and halva and choora and barfi made of millet flours!

What is there not to like about a steaming hot ragi malt drink which one may consider as a nutrient dense drink if one wished. Generally speaking you know all the ire against how we patronize wheat flour good, bad or ugly to death day in and day out; ditto for white rice. It’s like there’re no other cereals or grains worth eating morning, noon and night, so much so most everybody is cutting corners using the cheapest wheat or rice they can find in the marketplace so that our many hole in the wall kitchens can turn out a slew of snacks and meals for the Zomato or Swiggy guys to cart around town at various addresses. Over-salted, over-spiced, horrid oily stink.
And even more horrid the plastic packaging which is getting more and more sleazy…and yes, sometimes my dry waste bin is fuller than my wet bin waste! Of course I continue to feel as guilty as hell for not going out to get whatever in my own stainless steel tiffin for some fool reason or another. Feel no shame taking your own bartan from home if you’re doing takeaways, my dears!
THERE was a Jeevitha Enterprises from Tumkur district, Karnataka who were serving hot ragi to drink to everyone and here I learned that they have several kinds of millet mixes for juniors and seniors. Leaflets were being distributed to educate everyone: Yes, switch over to eating millets at least one meal a day and you will be better off vis-a-vis improving brains, memory, strength, immunity and the rest of it…ah yes, millets increase red blood cells count, fight anemia and fatigue. Check it out and don’t be snobbish. Be adventurous. I think the Jeeni millet mixes are available at some superstores in Goa.

my favorite Piece de Resistance presentation: The Coir Board is going places and now offers a whole range of eco-friendly products from lovely coir mats to decorative pieces, to coir dust to use as “soil” to grow your micro greens, coir saw dust is becoming hugely popular with gardeners – choir fibre is also being turned into wonderful planters. Dump the plastic pots, go for coir pots and Mother Earth will reward you a zillion fold.

Then there were the Odisha Millets Mission folk with their range of millet produce ranging from ragi chhatua/sattu, ragi mixture, ragi murukku,sorghum seviyan, ragi noodles/chowmein, ragi pasta, ragi khurma, ragi biscuits, foxtail millet biscuits…there’s even a spicy millet flakes choora which I tasted and found…er…too spicy. This mission is a huge affair and one may even place orders for the range of millets: be it barnyard millet, little millet (suan), foxtail millet (kangu), pearl millet (bajra), sorghum , finger millet which is ragi and arguably the most popular and versatile in use to prepare a whole range of flours, biscuits and savouries.
If you’re asking me it is time to dump wheat and rice and go for the country’s millets. Don’t let anyone genetically modify them, industrially refine them or turn them into overpriced khaas aadmi food! My main fear is that what was once ordinary village people’s food goes out of their reach – the common man’s purse and becomes rich people’s food! Hey, it is already happening.
THERE were other temptations galore and as usual the north-eastern stalls were loaded with ginger and turmeric knobs, the famous bhut jolokia or ghost chillies, corncobs of another hue, and much else – black rice, sticky rice. The black aromatic rice of Manipur is superlative good and well, now they’re promoting the famous chakhao kheer or black rice pudding. It’s utterly scrumptious and on show and sale were these glass packs, just pour in hot water, stir, rest a bit an enjoy chakhao kheer!
From the sound of it we want to make life so easy that nowadays we may not even make our tea, coffee, etcetera, from scratch; so there are there are premix tea and coffee variants galore…in lemon grass ginger, cardamom, cardamom masala, ginger, lemongrass, cardamom ginger, masala mix, Kashmir kahwa (which I love), saffron cardamom, plain and other combos to arrive at one’s favourite. Available in neat eco-friendly sachets. Be very choosy and check dates, remember that which is organic can turn fungal very quickly.

a steaming ragi drink is very welcome! Here at the Jeeni stall many enjoyed the packed with nutritious goodness drink…from a Karnataka business house promoting ragi mixes for children, adults and seniors for better preventive health parameters! Tea, coffee or ragi malt drink? Nowadays down south India it is ragi drinks thumbs-up!

Elsewhere there was some superb palm jaggery and even crystal palm jaggery which I took a shine too. From the Odisha Rajya Talgur Samabaya Sangha (a government enterprise) I was tantalized bydate palm jaggery in blocks, granules, liquid, and crystal nuggets the guy here insisted on calling “misri” (actually prepared from palmyrah palm sap by natural crystallization and a traditional method, rich in vitamins and minerals, good source of antioxidants with low glycaemic index). The misri was so lovely and delicious that I bought a bottle although it was Rs350 something and now I’m wondering how to eat it! Use it up in sweeting my morning tea or just keep a nugget in my mouth.
It’s good to know that the tree of life, our kalpriksha coconut tree, is going places at last. At least in Kerala. The Coconut Development Board of Kerala is doing well in putting the coconut tree to maximum profit – on view were virgin coconut oil, desiccated coconut, coconut milk, coconut skimmed milk, spray dried coconut milk powder, coconut cream, coconut chips, coconut oil, copra…even tender coconut water is bottled and there is coconut vinegar, squash and something called nata- de-coco, also coconut neera, jaggery, palm sugar, flower syrup…coconut shell powder, charcoal, activated carbon; biscuits, candy, chocolate, burfi. You need to get their complete catalogue if you’re interested. I always say I would happily replace dairy products with coconut products, judiciously of course.
ALL this and much more for another time. I am sorry I could go out to the venue of the expo only on the last day and couldn’t stay late to collect some ginger and turmeric knobs from the north-eastern stalls – everything on exhibit was selling out for those interested! In fact, this is one of the friendliest expo which comes to Goa.


A few recipes listed in a booklet of recipes provided by the Odisha Millets Mission to revive millets on farms and on plates:

Little Millet (Suan)


(Serves 15 nos)

INGREDIENTS: Little millet rice 500 g; black gram (urid dal) 250 g; curd 100 g; fenugreek seeds 10-12 seeds; salt to taste.

PREPARATION METHOD: Wash black gram thoroughly till water flows clean. Mix fenugreek seeds with washed black gram and soak the mix for 4 hours. Wash little millet rice thoroughly and soak it for 4 hours and grind it. Grind the soaked black gram, fenugreek seeds, mix till batter turns into smooth paste. Leave the batter to ferment for 4 hours. Mix curd and salt in to batter for smooth idli. Allow it to rest for 30 minutes. Pour batter in to idli mould and steam cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with sambar or chutney.

Proso Millet (cheena)

(Serves 10 portions)


INGREDIENTS: Proso millet rice 250 g; curd 500 g; finelychopped coriander leaves 5 tbs; salt as per tate; oil 50 g; cumin seeds half tbs; mustard seeds quarter tbs; blackgram half tbs; Bengalgram half tbs; curry leaves 20 g; red chili 5 pc; groundnuts 1 handful.

PREPARATION METHOD:  Wash the proso millet rice to remove any stone or impurities; take a medium sized pan and add water to it. Boil the water. Add washed proso millet rice to the boiled water and cook it for about 15 minutes; Proso millet rice should be cooked till it becomes soft. Keep the cooked proso millet rice aside in a bowl. Allow it to cool. Take another bowl, add curd and salt to it. Mix curd with cooked proso millet rice. Stir it well so that it is properly mixed. Take a small pan and heat oil in it. Add groundnuts, black gram and Bengal gram and stir fry for 2 minutes on a low flame. Add curry leaves, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, red chili and stir fry for 10 seconds on a low flame. Immediately transfer the contents to proso millet curd rice and mix it well so it is uniformly spread. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve.

Foxtail Millet (Kangu)


(Serves 30 portions)

INGREDIENTS: Foxtail millet 500g; milk 4 liters; sugar 500 g; ghee 50g; cashew nuts 50g; raisins50 g; green cardamom powder 1tbs.

PREPARATION METHOD: Wash foxtail millet rice and keep aside it in a bowl. Take a medium sized pan and heat ghee in it till it becomes hot. Roast cashew and raisins in ghee and keep aside in a bowl. Put foxtail millet rice in the pan and heat in ghee over low flame for 3 to 4 minutes. Add one liter of water to milk. Boil the milk in a separate vessel. Add roasted foxtail millet rice to boiled milk and cook it for around 2 minutes.  Add sugar to the mix and stir slowly for 20 minutes. Add sugar to the milk and stir slowly for 10 to 15 minutes until it is cooked. Add cardamom powder and decorate the mix with cashew nuts and raisins. Serve it hot or cold as per preference. (You can add Milkmaid  for better taste. Kheer with little millet rice/barnyard millet/kodo millet rice/proso millet rice can also be made in similar way.)

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