Sunday, 23 June, 2024

Promoting palates for native foods


By Tikaram Upreti, Jhapa, Feb. 20:  It is a common conception in our society that only poor people eat millet and nettle. People believe that these food items are only for deprived and underprivileged people.

But today, the rich and well-off are the ones that are seeking them out for their medicinal qualities.

This is on full display at the Damak Food Festival where everyone is clambering to eat millet and nettle dishes with pickled sesame on the side. This is in stark contrast to some years ago when people used to avoid these edibles because of their status perceptions, according to the organisers.

The festival, which is now in its sixth year, is organised by Hotel Association Jhapa (HAJ) and features many indigenous dishes of the various ethnic groups of Nepal. As per Rajan Dangal, president of HAJ, people have preferred native foods over supposedly modern ones because of their immense health benefits.

“Out of the 41 stalls at our festival, we have provided eight stalls for ethnic foods,” informed Sudheer Pradhan, coordinator of the organising committee, adding, “The stalls feature foods of Newar, Rai, Limbu, Dhimal, Rajbansi, Majhi, Tamang and Gurung caste groups.” He also informed that the ethnic stalls were proving more popular with the festival visitors.

Dangal said, “The festival has been organised to develop a taste for our native foods among the people.” He added, “Now, the next step is to include them in our hotel menus.”

The festival will be held from February 19 to February 23 and is expected to attract at least 400,000 visitors. The festival has been organised to generate demand for healthy traditional food and encourage hotels and restaurants to start serving them to their customers, as per the organisers.