As a run up to the Organics and Millets International Trade Fair 2018 to be held from Jan 19th-21st, 2018, the Government of Karnataka, Department of Agriculture (GOK,DOA), along with the Nutrition and Neutraceutical Research Centre (NNRC), Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences (RUAS), organised ‘The Culinary Symposium on Millets’ on Dec 20th, 2017 at the Faculty of Hospitality Management and Catering Technology, RUAS.
This was a part of the event line up aimed at spreading awareness of the upcoming fair.
The agenda was to showcase an innovative range of dishes prepared by the hotel management students using millets, followed by a symposium moderated by Ms Priya Arjun, head of NNRC and conducted by the agriculture Minister of State, Shri Krishna Byre Gowda and the Commissioner of agriculture Shri Satish G, along with Chef Ramasamy Selvaraju and the chefs of various leading restaurants and several stalwarts from the hotel and food industry. The purpose of this was to discuss how they could play a part in promoting the cause via restaurant menus.
The reputed hotel management college is situated within the huge 100 acre campus of Ramaiah that also contains several other of its institutions and it dishes up graduates who are placed with well known brands.
The gazebos under the cool tree shaded environment in front of the college, served as stations to showcase the innumerable innovations created by the talented students.
The entire decor was themed around millets, right from the entrance where posters bearing gleefully grinning millets welcomed us 😀 to the flower encircled millet heaps adorning the ground and lamps rising up from millet rangoli.
It was millets all the way with millet encrusted labels identifying the various dishes for us and food counters sheathed in fabric, bearing millet bodied Warli figures that were most likely running in a quest for healthy food 😀
The Food –
A flavorful and texture rich feast awaited us, with Sorghum jalebis sizzling live in front of our eyes, live pasta stations where not just the pasta but also the sauce was fortified with sorghum, some outstanding salads made from crunchy pearl and finger millet sprouts steamed as well as baked to a crisp and hearty soups of tomato finger millet and sorghum chicken, with delightful multi millet rolls to dunk into them.
The traditional aspect was brought in by the desi sorghum and pearl millet rotis (Indian flatbreads), millet rice and puttu along with an array of chutneys and powders, stews and curries.
There was a touch of the global, with the sorghum tacos filled with pearl millet instead of the usual beans and also the foxtail millet and cheese stuffed chicken and mushrooms and the veg lasagna.
Proso millet covered BBQ prawns and millet coated rava fried fish made up the seafood section.
Then of course there were the desserts with Pearl millet halwa sweetened with jaggery, millet brownies, chocolate millet bars and millet fruit tarts with their light and melt in the mouth shells.
Eco friendly serving ware played its part in maintaining the relevant responsibility.
Well after this feast there was work to do 😀 and we proceeded towards the hall where the symposium was to be held.
The symposium –
Ms Priya Arjun, the head of NNRC initiated the proceedings by stating that Ramiah college of hotel management was ever ready to play an active part in helping with promoting millet awareness by teaming up and offering logistical and technical help to the chefs and hotel industry.
The discussion was prompted by the fact that since there is a renewed demand for organic foods and a return to ancient grains, health conscious consumers are not only looking for such options on supermarket shelves for cooking and consuming them at home but also seeking such fare as dine out options in restaurants.
This in turn is evoking a response from various sectors of the food and beverage industry and urging them to incorporate millets and organics into their menus, since this industry is a channel that could play a huge part in popularizing such foods further and taking them the next level.
The points voiced by the minister along with the valuable inputs and suggestions from relevant people in the group, brought forth several practical and meaningful ideas that would help inculcate right from the academic level, a cognizance of the need to incorporate millets in restaurants.
The salient conclusions that were arrived at were –
1) Millet cookery competitions to be conducted by the chefs for the students, through various hotel management institutions, across the South Indian states for a start, with attractive prizes to increase participation.
Having the Govt of Karnataka partnering with the South India Chef’s Association, with lead coordination being provided by Ramiah from the govt’s side and the other party being the technical and knowledge partner in conducting these competitions.
2) Aiming to incorporate millets in hotel management college curriculum.
3) Forseeing a wave of change in future eating habits and grooming the next generation of chefs to be equipped for it. Conducting workshops for Sous chefs.
4) Getting more restaurants, both hotels and stand alone, to include local fare and also millets in their menus and have millet based events or themes for eg a Millet Monday every week.
Conducting demos for the diners and guests, to spread awareness of these foods also with a view to promote them as better food choices to manage widespread afflictions like diabetes.
5) Making the food more visually appealing by using modern plating techniques, to appeal to youngsters to encourage them to post on social media like instagram and thus spread the ‘cool’ factor and popularize the cause.
6) Having a single repository (in the form of a website) of all millet based information that is useful to chefs and food professionals, where recipes would also have a significant place.
7) Organizing cooking competitions for the public as well as demos by celebrity chefs, Q and A sessions and panel discussions at the food event that is due to happen at the dedicated food hall of 25000 sq ft with exclusive stage space at the OMITF2018, using the support of hotels and restaurants for those two and a half days.
8) Working to sustain the tempo in future and aiming to make the above food event an annual stand alone food feature, focusing on healthy foods.
9) Finding ways to involve the packaged and ready to eat/cook food industry to further the cause.
10) Ensuring a steady supply of ingredients to restaurant kitchens.
11) Pushing for declaring one of the coming years as an International or even a National year of Millets.
12) Incentive for Street carts and roadside restaurants to serve millet based foods since a large number of people eat there.
13) Going to schools and educating children via activities and millet based books and other channels.
The discussion concluded with a group picture of beaming millet filled folk 😀
For more pictures see My Facebook – Culinary Symposium on Millets for chefs-Ramiah,NNRC
Dec 20th, 2017