AT the Goa State BiodiversityBoard’s food festival at the Maquinez Palace courtyard in Panaji….Dr Vandana Shiva takes a look along with Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant, Environment Minister Nilesh Cabral, Dr Sneha Bhagwat of Oorja Wellness Centre and others. Also a glimpes of the splendid traditional dishes of the Goan kitchen featuring a variety of variety of local vegetables and greens. This is how we should eat everyday for good health!
By Tara Narayan
Eat like this and be happy forever!
IT was an eye-opening presentation of traditional food and I don’t see why we can’t eat like this every day to reap the rewards of fighting fit happy health? Actually we don’t get to see a spread of such traditional Goan recipes too often and this is thanks to Goa State Biodiversity Board’s energetic Dr Pradip Sarmokadam (member secretary-GSBB) — in honor of visiting Dr Vandana Shiva. She is an icon like no other and a VVIP seriously — of CHIPKO fame, India’s pioneering and foremost spokesperson on the subject of food sovereignty first. Listen to her speaking once and you’ll be convinced about how we must live sustainably very quickly now if we love Mother Earth more than ourselves!
It’s a pity most of the media was away busy with the fall of the Congress party anew (yet another one of Goa’s political paisa feko, tamasha dekho shows), otherwise more media would have turned up to say hello to Navdanya’s Vandana Shiva. She is all about protecting the earth biodiversity first so that simply we too may live, or get set to be gone with the wind or so to speak. Vandana bai was dressed in an emerald green saree that day and much of the time I was in too much in awe of her! She is so perfectly eloquent and the last word on many things to do with the linkages between ecology, environment, the natural resources of the good earth which belong to the people and certainly not to governments or their politicians to exploit. Also, she is a women with enormous clout both in India and abroad, we better listen to her for our good.
Well, those are my thoughts and more about Vandana bai elsewhere. To stay with the spread of things desirable to the palate here, I wish you could have seen it. Here were all manner of fruit and veggies and cooked preparations ranging from the basic humble nachenecho bhakri (the GOVAN self-help group women had brought these in by the piles), also rice flour bhakri…they were torn into pieces and every visitor there could taste to their heart’s content! With alu bhaji (the leaves of the tero plant) and other recipe preparations courtesy Namita N Naik and her Bicholim team of women; I looked at the ambade chutney/ambade umonn/mango pickle and automatically salivated! Nache or ragi roti and red rice roti is so good, why don’t we eat them more often day in and day out, instead of now flavorless wheat roti all the time (GMO wheat has practically killed wheat crops along with the soil).
What else? Patoleo, solanchi coddi, nevri sweet and savoury sweet – yummylicious! And ladoo of all kind, mostly jaggery sweetened with the exception of the besan ladoo…poushtik ladoo, methi ladoo, etc, don’t know about you but I’d rather eat a good ladoo than a slice of confectionary lathered with butter and cream. You get the idea, we must eat to live if we want to live.
All this here is a testimony to the biodiversity we still have in Goa when it comes to good food to eat – children should eat it, adults, seniors. Instead here we are opening packets of plastic with food enshrined in them day and day out…I swear, we want to die in a hurry because we don’t know and we don’t care as long as something doesn’t come home to our doorstep to give us a mighty whack. I say, don’t wait for it. Live humbly, sustainably, in all the ways you can NOW. And so says Vandana bai in so many eloquent ways of saying it in a myriad ways. Boils down to one thing: Change for the better must be a constant factor in our live or lifestyles – if you are human, humane, intelligent, hardworking, affectionate, loving. To reap the bountiful harvests of Mother Earth we must worship Her in all the right ways.
I dream of the government or some sane NGO wealthy enough to start local Govan food courts or canteens for anyone to go to for a decent bite to stay alive and kicking. The GOVAN women are salt of the earth and “unputdownable” – like grandmamma Vandana Shiva whose words I live on. Incidentally, she was in Goa because her son Kartikey lives in Goa and she had to be with her only son on his birthday! In the process at one of the functions in her honor, it was a treat to hear her tell Minister of Environment & Climate Change Nilesh Cabral, with a warm clasp of hands, “Please save Goa’s biodiversity!”
WHAT and who are GOVAN? I think it is trying to be equivalent Vandana Shiva’s Navdanya movement from Dehra Doon which has come a long way as a movement for farming sustainably with dignity and yet reap the rewards (no chemical farming please, not at all), she has an Earth University where anyone may go and learn how to live to be truly, freely and healthily or so to speak.
In Goa, GOVAN too speaks for treating the body like a temple and so with respect first; this group of self-help women are part of the Goa State Biodiversity Board and supported by the Department of Environment & Climate Change and Goa Electricity department, government of Goa. “GoVan” is a brand developed by the GSBB under its project with the aim of “achieving conservation of biodiversity through livelihood interventions.” Also supported by Goa Shipyard Ltd, District Mineral Fund, North and South-Goa. Say a collective effort so that Goa and Goans do not stray too far away from its farming lands! (Sigh) It is already happening but perhaps even the BJP hell-bent on industrial progress and development may be enlightened of superior forces taking a toll of the people who work to live at ground level.
Perhaps Vandana Shiva’s Earth University will have something to do with all this for the larger good of saving Goa! It’s too early to tell.
OORJA WELLNESS at panjim residency
TO move on a bit this is also tell you that Vandana bai was also here to inaugurate Oorja Organics introduced by Dr Sneha Bhagwat (director of Oorja Wellness Center in Margao). This is an extension of the Oorja Wellness Centre on the first floor of the Panjim Residency and here visitors or patrons of the Ayurveda wellness centre may buy a whole host of NAVDANYA ORGANICS as well as GOVAN’S organically cultivated produce from millets, millet flours, mixes, pickles, some eco-friendly jewelry, Kunbi sarees and cloth pieces maybe and much else as it adds on over time. Good-luck to Dr Sneha Bhagwat who I see is the formidable moving force and spirit behind this venture, she says “we must work with the government” for a change for the better and who can disagree with her on this!
One of these days drop by at Oorja Wellness and visit with the Panjim Residency. It’s undergoing a transformation currently to woo more folk with upper crust temptations, take a look at the menu of wellness, indulge in an abhangya massage if you have time on your hands. They also have some other piece de resistance massages with qualified staff…go check. I think I go get some dink ladoo for myself, they’re the hard work of Mayura Abhishetai, to a query she gently confessed during covid times she was experiencing “empty nest” syndrome (that is when the children have grown up and gone their way!) and so decided to do health-conscious ladoo and chaat counters, “the ladoo are made of pure ghee (the Nestle’s ghee is very good), I also do pure vegetarian catering.” She is doing good from Mangeshi where she stays, close to the temple. These days good ladoo are selling in the Rs500-700 kg range but I will swear by these as good stuff to live for. Only remember good things have a short shelf life, check dates before buying. I hate to throw out expensive stuff in which the rot has set it.