Mark your dates with RICE

The team be­hind In­dia’s mil­let calendar is back, and this year’s fo­cus is on rice

The Hindu - - FOOD - Con­tact Sa­haja Sam­rudha at 7090009922/8212513155, or sa­ha­jain­[email protected] :: Chi­tra Bala­sub­ra­ma­niam

Cal­en­dars were, at one point of time, revered. They were printed in tens of thou­sands by cor­po­ra­tions, com­pa­nies, non-profit in­sti­tu­tions. The doors of power opened with gifts of di­aries and cal­en­dars. The fast world of smart­phones, com­put­ers and on­line en­chant­ment has meant that no one re­ally cares so much for cal­en­dars these days. But in­no­va­tions con­tinue, and cal­en­dars are now a tool for spread­ing aware­ness.

One such is the Rice Calendar 2019. As Kr­ishna Prasad G, founder, Sa­haja Sam­rudha, says, “Rice Calendar 2019 is a unique ef­fort by the Save Our Rice Cam­paign and Sa­haja Sam­rudha to pop­u­larise tra­di­tional rice and recipes.” Kr­ishna Prasad had ear­lier come out with two edi­tions of the mil­let calendar to pop­u­larise the use of mil­lets. Rice is a nat­u­ral ex­ten­sion.

Why rice, you think? Kr­ishna Prasad ex­plains, “To­day, the younger gen­er­a­tion knows only two or three va­ri­eties of rice. It is bas­mati in the North and sona ma­suri in the South. But our her­itage of rice is far more. There are rice va­ri­eties which have medic­i­nal prop­er­ties; sev­eral can be used only for mak­ing sweet dishes; some are grown in sa­line ar­eas; a few are grown in dry­lands. Some rices are aro­matic: the fra­grance can be no­ticed from a kilo­me­tre away. Rice di­ver­sity is vast.”

Kr­ishna Prasad adds, “It is not as if peo­ple do not want to use it. They just do not know about it, where to buy or how to cook it. This calendar is a unique ef­fort to pop­u­larise the tra­di­tional va­ri­eties of rice. We have given a chart of 13 recipes with the rice. The va­ri­eties of rice have been taken from across the coun­try and in­clude chak hao of Ma­nipur, gob­indobogh from Bengal and navara from Ker­ala.”

In­dia in the Vedic pe­riod is sup­posed to have had around 4,00,000 va­ri­eties of rice. RH Rich­haria, the lead­ing In­dian rice sci­en­tist who doc­u­mented and col­lected nearly 19,000 va­ri­eties in his life­time, is said to have be­lieved that In­dia had over two lakh va­ri­eties. The un­der­ly­ing fact is that In­dia’s tra­di­tional bowl of rice has enough bio­di­ver­sity to last more than a life­time. Each va­ri­ety of rice is unique in char­ac­ter­is­tics and aroma. Each has a spe­cific grow­ing cy­cle, can with­stand cli­matic ex­tremes and uses lesser re­sources, paving the way for sus­tain­able farm­ing.

So the rice calendar is a way of re­mind­ing peo­ple of this vast in­her­i­tance and trea­sure. With recipes, images and in­for­ma­tion, it makes for in­ter­est­ing reading, and is, of course, a cyno­sure of all eyes on the wall.

So what does the calendar have? It talks of the rich her­itage value and the role it plays in the life of In­di­ans. From the first time food is given to a child (an­naprashna), it is as­so­ci­ated with fer­til­ity, aus­pi­cious­ness, it is used to wel­come guests with, it is show­ered as bless­ings (ak­shat), it is used to wel­come newly-weds… it is more than just food, and has so­cio-re­li­gious bear­ings as well. It talks of the ori­gin and genesis of black rice, medic­i­nal rice and its prop­er­ties, red rice, aro­matic rice and its men­tion in the works of Sushruta and Charaka. This forms the front part of the calendar, to­gether with the photos and, of course, dates.

The back of the calendar is where the stock of the good­ies lie for a food en­thu­si­ast. Ac­tu­ally, it makes sense for ev­ery­one who is fond of rice or eats rice. The recipes have been di­vided into black rice recipes, aro­matic rice recipes, and so on. The recipes in­clude payasam us­ing karuppu kavuni,

kal­ab­hat rice salad (recipe given), Ma­nipur chak hao amubi rice burger (this is a nov­elty as the chak hao is used to make kheer tra­di­tion­ally); there are daily use recipes. A cat­a­logue of 36 dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties of rice is also given. The English calendar has de­tails of rice from pan In­dia. The re­gional one in Kan­nada, in the same for­mat, has recipes and data on va­ri­eties of rice grown in Kar­nataka, while a sim­i­lar one in Ben­gali is be­ing pre­pared. The calendar costs ₹100 (in­clud­ing postal charges).

A favourite across cul­tures, rice con­trib­utes to 20% of the world’s calo­ries.

The calendar re­minds peo­ple of this trea­sure

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