There are more than 100 varieties of indigenous rice varieties in Tamil Nadu. But today, farmers are not cultivating many of them because of few buyers in the market.
To raise awareness about the importance of buying traditional rice varieties, Menaka Thilak decided to do a remarkable feat. She made 214 dishes using traditional rice and millets in an hour and entered the Asia Book of Records and the India Book of Records.
“Farmers in Tamil Nadu cultivated many rice varieties. Over the years, the cultivation decreased because of very few buyers. I started the venture Mannvasanai with the aim to bring back the traditional rice varieties of our state. I wanted to do something bigger and reach more people and that’s why I attempted this event,” says Menaka, who has revived 25 forgotten varieties of rice.
According to her, one of the reasons why many stopped buying various rice varieties is that apart from dishes like idli, dosa or idiyappam, they don’t know what else can be made.
“For this record event, I made 214 dishes from 52 TN rice varieties. I made various types of dosa, idli, idiyappam, oothappam, samosa, murukku, cutlet, veg rolls, ice cream, uppu urundai, noodles, sweet kozhukkattai, kara kozhukkattai, adhirasam, adai, etc. A few of the rice varieties that we used are mappillai samba, karuppu kavuni, karunguruvai, Atthur kichali samba, thanga samba, vadan samba, neelam samba, kottaram samba, kulakkar, vadan samba, garudan samba, chinnar, kala namak, poongar, milagu samba and more. My team from Mannvasanai were present helping me in the kitchen,” she adds.
Team Mannvasanai also displayed 100 Indian varieties at the event. Menaka adds that people are not aware of the medicinal properties of certain traditional rice varieties. “Many of them are immune boosters, and have a high fibre content which enhances digestion.”