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Meet the home chefs of Aarey


Online shopping for clothes, video calls with friends and family, and ordering in treats — we’ve adapted to the new normal of festivities and celebrations in six months of living in isolation. However, that’s not the case for everyone. Take for instance, the tribal population of Aarey; the pandemic dealt a blow to many of their livelihoods, shares Cassandra Nazareth, founder of Tribal Tadka, a social enterprise working with tribal women there. “A lot of those living close to the main road would work as house-helps but the lockdown meant they lost wages for months. They are not people who can buy rations or store it for days,” Nazareth tells us.

To get through these trying times, Tribal Tadka will help around 10 adivasi women from Aarey bring their handmade fare to citizens in and around the festive season.On offer is the thetcha in three varieties — bombil, chillies and garlic; vegan ukadiche modaks made from coconut and jaggery; rice and ragi rotis; and laddoos — besan, ragi, methi and soft til ones, apart from other sweets. “These are made by women from two villages in Aarey. These are skills that few of them have imbibed from older women in their families. Very few people can make the soft til laddoos that they dole out,” Nazareth asserts, adding they also have a range of Warli art-inspired diyas, totes, bookmarks, glass jars, among other hand-crafted products.

Laddoos made by them
Laddoos made by them

Although this is something they do every year, Nazareth says that this time, they are hoping to get a helping hand from Mumbaikars as they cannot go around doing physical pop-ups. So, the women are looking for hosts from different localities in and around Mumbai. “What the host has to do is take responsibility for their area or housing society. The host helps us by giving us an address to be present for 30 minutes to an hour for us to deliver all orders in that area on a specific date,”
Nazareth explains.

So, if you’re keen to order specials during the festival, why not do it by lending these women a hand? After all, festivities are best enjoyed together.

The Tribal Tadka team at a catering event
The Tribal Tadka team at a catering event

Call 9820224450/9920184909 to place your order or volunteer as a host
Cost Rs 150 onwards for 200 gm laddoos; Rs 80 onwards for thetcha

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