Local resources and local ingredients are a fundamental step towards an integrated indigenous food system. Hendri G Momin, café owner of Aman A•song (Mei-Ramew Café), Garo Hills, launched the café in 2019 after the intervention made by NESFAS. Momin has learned to replace the ingredients in his kitchen with locally available resources.
This strategy has helped Momin to minimize the purchase of ingredients from the market and to maximize profit. He even set out a menu with ingredients to achieve nutritious, wholesome benefits, and healthy choices and to create awareness among the community members.
He believes that the menus he creates will inform the community that they can use local ingredients found in their yard which is chemically free and sustainable.
Hendri G Momin, the café owner, said, “There are many varieties of wild, cultivated yam and taro in the community, but many are left to waste in the community because of the lack of taste and community people are not aware of the value it can give in place of processed refined flour products. Therefore, as a cook, I like to develop products which will give benefit to the people in terms of health and cost-effective menu in the community café.”
Momin has now used tapioca and yam rather than the product commonly known as ‘bhujia’. Besides that, he uses wild edible as a substitute for flatbread to add nutrition to the food items available in the café. He also incorporated a cold beverage section to his menu where he serves wild edibles fruits as drinks.
Momin has also influenced and altered his community’s behavior towards using local ingredients to help build a strong healthy community. His approach has also reached community members in the urban areas to practice reviving traditional food systems with ingenious recipes in the community.
His journey as a chef has been challenging; when Momin started his business, he also influenced like-minded chefs to begin their journey. To overcome his competition, he began adding indigenous ingredients and wild edibles to his menu.
Benibirth Marak, NESFAS community facilitator of the area, said, “By having such innovative cooks in the community, we could see improvement in the use of many underutilized food crops which are healthy and at the same time, chemical free.”