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Wives of reformed Bodo poachers win hearts of Manas National Park tourists with delicious dishes

Visitors at Manas National Park enjoying traditional cuisine prepared by Bodo women at food outlet run by Gungzema Kitchen (Pics. Courtesy Facebook)

With the Bodo menfolk having given up their unlawful poaching activities, the women of their families came to the forefront to keep the kitchen pot boiling by feeding tourists their traditional food as part of a newly started restaurant business.

Belonging to the indigenous Bodo community these women, living in and around Basbari range using their traditional culinary skills offer delicious and new dishes to tourists and wildlife enthusiasts visiting Manas National Park – known for its one-horned rhinos and Royal Bengal Tiger.

In their endeavour they were guided and helped by Mitali G Dutta, a culinary entrepreneur, who in association with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) skilled them and helped them in marketing their products.

Talking to the media, Dutta said: "I was already working with the WWF in a similar project at Kaziranga National Park when they approached me for Manas. I started working with them in 2017 and began with giving tips on how to present a dish in front of a customer.”

She added that while the Bodo women knew their dishes best requiring no training in cooking, they were taught how much quantity of food should be served, arrangement of plates, and pricing of the items in order to make the business sustainable.

Known as Gungzema Kitchen, it has brought under its wing women from two self-help groups – Swankar Mithinga Onsai Afat and Somaina. With the women mastering the skills in presentation and pricing, Dutta promoted them on FoodSutra by Mitali, a brand established by her.

The traditional Bodo platter served by Gungzema Kitchen has about seven to eight dishes and is priced at Rs 500.

Appreciating Dutta’s efforts, a member of Gungzema Kitchen, Santina Basumatary, remarked: "We never had any idea about running an enterprise like this. We only knew about household works. But Mitali Baideo (sister) has taught us to better our skills and work hard to be consistent and professional.”