Shillong: The North East Slow Food and Agrobiodiversity Society (NESFAS) on Friday hosted the first ever Mei-Ramew Culinary Contest (for youths) as part of the International Youth Day celebration that was held on August 12, 2019. The contest was organised alongside the monthly Mei-Ramew Farmers’ Market (August Edition) at All Saints Hall, IGP.
Four youths from Meghalaya participated in the competition and 28-year-old Rilang Blah, a self-taught cook and a post-graduate in Mass Media, bagged the first prize. She said, “I am very thankful to NESFAS for giving me an opportunity to cook food using these indigenous ingredients. “ Persis Sohthiang received the first runners’ up title.
The participants were asked to cook two dishes and use indigenous ingredients, which were sourced from the Farmers’ Market itself. The highlight of the dishes was to improvise and create innovative flavours using indigenous ingredients only.
One of the two judges, renowned chef Teiskhem Lynrah, co-founder of Meraki Bombay, a pop up kitchen that promotes indigenous food and ingredients across the country, said, “It was a really good display of cooking skills. From kitchen management to innovation, plating skills and to taste and other more.”
She added, “All the girls were strong in their own areas but the two winners demonstrated dishes that tasted different and were more focused on local herbs and greens.”
Esther Sawian, another judge of the competition, lauded the participants for their enthusiasm in promoting traditional ingredients. “It was an explosion of authentic flavours at the Mei-Ramew Culinary Competition. It was a pleasure to see the young ones cook with such passion to create delicious and innovative recipes using the indigenous resources available to them.”
Aafreen Ryntathiang, a hospitality and tourism graduate who is currently in Canada and a participant of the culinary contest, said, “I had a great experience experimenting with the local ingredients that were available at the market. Overall, it was great to use the traditional ingredients to create something new and innovative.”
The two winners of the culinary contest will be given an opportunity to cook under NESFAS kitchen in the next Farmers’ Market in Spetember.
On the other hand, six communities from across Meghalaya participated in the Farmers’ Market. Nongmawlong, Lummawsiang Umdum (West Khasi Hills), Nongtraw, Khapmaw and Iewrynghep (East Khasi Hills) and Umwang Nongbah (Ri-Bhoi) brought in their several chemical-free produce, wild edible plants and plants which were cultivated from the community members’ home gardens.