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Women's empowerment thro' food fest

Women's SHGs recently organised the "Aachi's food festival" in the city to introduce Coimbatoreans to authentic Chettinad fare.


AFTER YEARS of being told that the kitchens have enslaved women, it was a chance for the fairer sex to prove that the cooking rooms could help empower them too.

Members of the city-based Poompuhar Nagar and Karpaga Vinayagar women's Self Help Groups (SHGs) hit upon the idea of organising a food fest to garner funds for their activities.

Hailing as most of them did from Chettinad, they decided to introduce native delicacies to the palate of Coimbatoreans.

And, how they succeeded! The Nagarathar Sangam at R S Puram in the city was packed with people who had come out to try out Chettinad cuisine at the "Aachi's food festival".

It was a food fest with a difference. Instead of being served food stored in casseroles, the visitors saw the items being cooked in front of them.


The famous Chettinad paal paniyaram, vellai paniyaram (akin to idli), adais and other gastronomic delights were part of the menu.

For Rs. 50, one could pick up five items from the 11 in the menu, which included chapatti, ice cream and fresh fruits.

But, the paniyarams stole the show. The vellai paniyaram with milagai thuvaiyal (spicy chilly chutney) lured quite a number of people while the paal paniyarams, which were soaked in hot milk, tasted like rasagullas.

Then, there were kuzhi paniayarams, kozhukattais (rice dumplings) and idiyappams (string hoppers). Those who wanted to have more food could do so by paying Rs.10 each for the items listed in the menu.

Ask L Panchanathan, the organiser of the festival, why the SHGs, which were primarily engaged in selling household articles on a wholesale basis, decided to organise a food festival and he says: "People in Coimbatore do not get to taste authentic Chettinad dishes. So, the SHGs decided to offer them some of the popular ones from their region."

The fest made business sense too. "We thought we could make a good profit through this. And, we are delighted at the response." He says the SHGs will continue to hold such festivals.

M ALLIRAJAN

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