Tribal cuisine will soon find a place on the platter of children attending pre-schools in MP’s tribal-dominated Alirajpur district, an official said on Friday.
The district administration has launched “project shaktiman” in aganwadis or pre-schools, to supplement diet for malnourished tribal children, said Sanjay Verma, collector of Alirajpur.
“Tribal children prefer their own food as they develop a taste for their traditional food early on in life. Instead of milk they love chhajh-raabdi—a refreshing and wholesome drink made from maize flour-- so we have started giving them food they are used to eating,” he said. “Tribal food is nutritious and full of protein.”
Launched as a pilot project in 60 aganwadis of Alirajpur, the scheme will be to the entire tribal-dominated district if it succeeds, he said.
“We will also submit a report to the state government so that the project can be extended in other tribal-dominated districts in the state.”
Activists working among tribes people have welcomed the project, saying that people who decide the menu for anagwadis in tribal-dominated areas are not aware tribal food and culture.
“You cannot make policies sitting in Bhopal or Delhi,” said Chandrabhan Singh Bhadauria, who works with Bhilala children in Alirajpur.
“ If the district administration’s initiative works this will be great step in bringing down the malnutrition rate among tribal children,” he said.
“The cost of the tribal food is less compared to the dal-roti-milk diet served under Sanjha Chulha Yojana.”
According to the district administration records, more than 36.6% Bhilala children are malnourished. Tribal food like chhajh- raabdi, vada, makka and kulthiya ki ghughari and taya will be served instead of the usual dal-roti-milk diet.
According to district officials, a varied menu has been prepared and the project officials have been directed to implement the scheme in the next couple of months.
“The project is a great initiative that will provide nutritious food cooked according to recipes of Bhilala tribe to encourage the children to eat more so that they do not suffer from malnutrition,” said Rahul Banrejee , who has been working with tribes people in Alirajpur and Jhabua for more than a decade.
On the platter
Chhajh- raabdi: A nutritious drink made by mixing maize flour with water and peppered with salt, black pepper and coriander leaves. Tribes people drink it for breakfast and to keep the cold at bay.
Vada: Is prepared from pulses grown in the area and is usually taken as meal by tribes people
Taya: Is prepared with gram flour, maize flour and mixed with water to make a soup.