Cooking ‘Nalla Soru’ with small millets
By N Vinoth Kumar | Published: 03rd January 2013 08:37 AM |
When Rajamurugan, a catering graduate, was mulling an alternative for junk food, he hit upon the idea of bringing nutritious small millets into the modern day cooking menu.
Thus was born ‘Nalla Soru’, with a team of five members, all aged between 25 and 30, from different parts of Tamil Nadu.
“During my college days, I used to take part in several cooking competitions. I prepared food items using small millets and herbs. I used athimadhuram instead of sugar in halwas. My innovative cooking skills were appreciated by many and I won many prizes. That inspired me to take up this venture,” said Rajamurugan.
Coming from a family of agriculturists, Rajamurugan completed his masters in Business Administration and was pondering over starting a food processing firm.
While on the Tata Jagriti Yatra — an 18-day rail tour across India — Rajamurugan got introduced to a team ‘Nalla Keerai’ from Chennai that produced green leaves and vegetables through organic farming. That was when the idea of starting ‘Nalla Soru’ struck him. From then on, there was no turning back for him and his team.
“Making millets as a wholesome food item is our vision. By using small millets such as thinai (foxtail millet), saamai (little millet), varagu (Kodo), pani varagu (proso millet), kudhiraivaali (barnyard millet), ragi (finger millet), kambu (pearl millet) and solam (jowar), we are now able to cook more than 150 traditional food items. We conceptualised this in 2005, but implemented it only a year before,” he said.
“There are many preparing similar kind of traditional food items. But we are the only team using only small millets in our preparation.” The small millets and other required ingredients are brought from areas such as Tirumangalam in Madurai, Thanjavur and several other places from Andhra Pradesh. Vegetables used in the food are grown by organic farming method. “We only use mud pots for cooking,” he said.
Adding that traditional dishes are still in vogue in several parts of Kongu region and Madurai, he said, “Sunduvara Rasam and Kozhi Saru in Kongu and Madurai respectively would be given to women post-delivery, as they cleanse the uterus.”
In parts of Madurai and Thanjavur, Ulunthangkali is given to girls who attain puberty and in Kongu region, Karuppatti Pottukkadalai mix is the most preferred.
The protein and iron rich food items will protect girls from becoming anaemic,” Rajamurugan said. “We must pass on the benefits of traditional food items to future generations. I am in the process of writing a book on these food preparations,” he added.
But how much will these food items cost? “Less than a pizza, burger or noodles,” Rajamurugan quipped.