The beauty of India’s geography cannot be stated enough. Ours is a country with serene lakes, wild seas, snow-capped mountains, dense forests, and populated advanced cities. Geographically speaking, India has it all. In its southern state of Tamil Nadu, are the gorgeous range of mountains known as the Nilgiris. The Nilgiris is one of the oldest mountain ranges in India and is part of the larger Western Ghats. It has three gorgeous hill stations— Ooty, Coonoor, and lastly Kotagiri, where the well-known Nilgiris Wild Foods Festival happens.
The Nilgiris Wild Food Festival is a four-day annual celebration of wildly cultivated, indigenous, and organically grown local produce of the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve. The festival brings together indigenous cooks, growers, renowned chefs, organic farmers, artists, writers, musicians, local residents, and visitors. It is an endeavor to spread awareness and preserve the innumerable native food traditions, and culinary knowledge from the region. It promotes traditional ways of growing, cooking, and consuming, with mindfulness about a climate-changed future.
The Nilgiris Wild Foods Festival 2022 begins on 21 December in the gorgeous Keystone Foundation campus, Kotagiri. The multi-venue event will kick off with an interactive session and panel discussion on themes related to wild foods, sustainability, climate change, and more. The speaker panel includes Chef Thomas Zacharias, founder of the Locavore, environmentalist and organic gardener Lathika George, and many such eminent speakers. The event will feature exhibitions of wild foraged produce by the indigenous community of Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve including stalls displaying artisanal goods, art, and craft. Moreover, the highlight of the events includes indigenous music and food tasting and a lunch prepared by the indigenous community with fresh local produce.
The four-day festival activities will be divided accordingly:
Day I: Guided Forest Walk With Irula Famers and Traditional Irula Meal
Day II: A Celebration of Wild Foods at Keystone Foundation, Kotagiri
A Sit-Down, Multi-Course, Badaga Tasting menu, and Cultural Program, Riverside Dreamscapes, Aravenu
Day III: Chef's Tables with Chefs Abhijit Saha and Arup Kakati Le Cafe, Little Earth Square,Ooty (Lunch)
Chef's Tables with Chefs Abhijit Saha and Arup Kakati At Le Cafe, Little Earth Square, Ooty (Dinner)
Day IV: Chef's Table by Chef Arup Kakati At The Periodic Table, Little Earth Square, Ooty
The Nilgiris Wild Foods Festival is organized by The Nilgiris Foundation(TNF), a sister concern of Keystone Foundation. TNF is an inclusive platform that leverages Keystone Foundation’s 30 years of experience in grassroots education and sustainable living. The Keystone Foundation was founded in 1993 and works on Conservation, Enterprise & Livelihoods, and Environmental Governance in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve primarily with indigenous, marginalized communities.
If you have ever found yourself wondering about sustainable food systems in the current context of climate change when our relationship with food and the environment needs to be reimagined, you will find some of the answers in this festival. You will eat, talk, cook, and forage for food in the sumptuous spread of the festival, a wonderful ending to the year.
You can find out more about the festival here.