On Wednesday, 17 November 2010 the Indigenous Partnership for Agrobiodiversity and Food Sovereignty sponsored its first Food Festival showcasing the agro-biodiversity of the Khasi-Jaintia Hills of Mawphlang in India. The Food Festival was organised by William Boy’s Home of Mawphlang and co-hosted by the Khasi Jaintia Presbyterian Assembly in the sprawling meadows where the food was cooked and displayed. Slow Food International, a partner in the Indigenous Partnership, documented the entire festival and will contribute towards the compilation and publication of a Khasi recipe book as a product from the festival.
More than 800 people from 15 surrounding villages and Shillong attended the event, many of which were local youth. Women chefs from distant Mynso in Jaintia Hills cooked delicious putharo (rice bread). The women chefs busy at their work were ready to volunteer information about the different leaves and roots they used in their curries. Amongst the treats on display were rice-based snacks like putharo, pukhlein, pu-syep, pu-maloi et al. Putharo is usually eaten with Tungrymbai (fermented soya beans cooked in oil and flavoured with garlic and sesame seeds).
Of the 13 stalls one was for medicinal plants and potions. The Khatar Shnong chefs also served tea brewed from the root of a climber called Shiah-Krot. A variety of boiled colocasia or yam (shriew) that is normally eaten with honey was also available. There were several edible herbs and roots, which many of the participants were seeing for the very first time.
Carlo Petrini, the Founder and President of the Slow Food social movement was present at the Festival. Petrini expressed joy in seeing such a large variety of natural food available in the Khasi-Jaintia Hills. He was deeply touched by the easy-going hospitality of the local people and encouraged the youth to retain their distinct identity amidst the globalisation of tradition and culture. To learn more The Shillong Times (The Shillong Times) Documentary video Mawphlang Food Festival