Traditional Ragi, Kambu Dosai Anyone ?
Syeda Sana, a student of MOP College, was delighted. The 23-year-old ate delicious, traditional ragi dosa in the makeshift millet canteen in the city. “I tried traditional items such as ragi and cambu dosa. My grandparents used to tell us that millets are good for health,” she said.
Sana has decided to have millet meals at least twice a week. Like her, several young women and men tried out snacks in the millet canteen run by Women’s Collective, a voluntary organisation in Chennai. These traditional, makeshift millet canteens, which are on a par with fast-food chains, have sprouted in the city.
Women’s Collective conducted millet recipe competitions in schools and colleges in Chennai and then put up shops to sell more than 30 different snack items made of millet at meetings on climate change, agriculture and other events such as blood donation camps.
“We want to sell traditional millet products. We have done the groundwork to learn the taste of young people,” said Sheelu Francis of Women Collective.
“Our canteens will provide food for thought also. We will explain to the customers the importance of millets in our daily meal and pass on the message on millets to the younger generation,” she said.
Millet canteen members receive ingredients from farmers from southern districts such as Virudhunagar, Tirunelveli and Tiruvannamalai. “Many of the farmers are single women and widows. Even our canteens are managed by young women staff,” said C. Ponnuthayai, a farmer working in her 5-acre farm in Tirunelveli.
“The idea is to empower marginalised women and, at the same time, spread awareness about products other than rice and wheat,” she said.
Women’s Collective members said their stall was crowded throughout the day during the two-day youth health mela held last month at Valluvar Kottam, Chennai. Many who have had these snacks have placed orders for their family functions.
Millet canteen members can be contacted at 9444015851.