KOCHI: A tribal food fest and orchid exhibition is all the rage at Marine Drive, Ernakulam, featuring over 35 stalls, displaying more than 100 varieties of mangoes, jackfruit dishes and other delicacies like bamboo rice porridge and paayasam.
A live juice stand serves up cool glasses of fruit juices including fresh lime and mangoes, both ripe and raw. Nutmeg juice was another interesting sight, served with sugar and soda to make it more palatable.
This fest was organised to spread awareness among the public regarding the superiority of tribal remedies over modern medicine. “The ‘English medicines’ we consume nowadays do more harm then good. Natural cures, on the other hand, acted quickly and effectively against the disease,” says Shameer Valavath, organiser of the fest.
A social worker by profession, he is the managing director of Star Entertainment which has organised two other fests in the past two years, both of which proved highly successful.
Fruits play an important role in maintaining health, for example, jackfruits have been shown to combat cancer. There are more than 30 sweet and savory dishes made from jackfruits, ranging from the usual paayasam, ada, chips and chakka puzhukku to noteworthy dishes like Jackfruit Manchurian and Chilly fried Jackfruit. Made from a simple combination of jackfruit, jaggery, drumstick leaves (muringayila), powdered cashews and cardamoms, the jackfruit manchurian is reputed to be edible for almost a year if stored properly. “There are no chemicals or artificial ingredients that go into making this dish and eating some every morning will keep you healthy”, promises Rafeeq, the head chef.
Chicken and fish items are cooked on an open coal stove inside specially prepared bamboo stems, which cooks them thoroughly while retaining the flavour. They are then served as accompaniments for the savory jackfruit dishes and tapioca. The aroma and taste of the dishes is sure to take one back to the olden days, where beloved dishes were cooked on a wood stove using fresh and natural ingredients.
Another attraction at the fest are the wild orchid stalls, featuring a wide variety of flowers. The blooms are popular among city dwellers, especially those who live in apartment buildings, as they are easy to maintain and look appealing.
But a lesser known fact about orchids is that they take in a lot of oxygen from their surroundings, which can prove to be lethal in a closed environment.
An upcoming attraction for mango lovers is the mango-eating competition to be held on Saturday, where the goal is to eat as many mangoes in 5 minutes.