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It is said that the combination of passion and calling is the recipe for sure success. Therefore, when Mitali Gogoi Dutta from Guwahati felt the need to be financially independent to raise her daughters well, she relied on her culinary skills and started baking classes in 2015 under the name “Food Sutra by Mitali”. Being an entrepreneur wasn’t the goal for her, but with consistent effort and an understanding of digital marketing skills, she soon became a name to be reckoned with. Through this company, which still thrives today as a digital platform, she teaches bakers and enthusiasts the nuances of baking.
Her work got noticed by people in the right circles and soon she was approached by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for a unique project. She explains: “Culinary practices have always fascinated me. I learned a lot about food, special ingredients and how to prepare them from my mother and have always wanted to pass on this love and knowledge.
When I was approached by the WWF in 2017 to train the women of Karbi, Missing and those belonging to the Bodo tribes living in various rural areas of Assam such as Sonapur, Natundanga village in Kaziranga, Barengabari in Manas and Karbi Anglong live, I jumped at the chance. I was asked to teach the local women the basics of hospitality and presentation skills, with an emphasis on cooking for tourists. Until then, their husbands’ main source of income was illegal poaching, but with WWF’s intervention, they are now working with forest authorities to conserve the ecology and wildlife.”
Dutta wanted to help these women understand the value of the natural environment that surrounds them. As communities that depend heavily on their natural habitat, their traditional cuisine is exquisite and unusual, with most dishes using locally available herbs and vegetables. Dutta shared theoretical knowledge about local ingredients and combined it with practical knowledge about the aesthetic preparation of food served to large numbers of people.
In addition, she taught them the basics of hospitality, shared a code of conduct, instilled valuable presentation and plate skills, and eco-friendly waste management techniques. This helped these women to build their business, which they named Gungzema Kitchen, which hosted several guests from all over the world. Dutta is proud to make a significant contribution by providing these women with an alternative and sustainable source of income.
The success of this program encouraged her to expand the scope of this idea by founding FSM Foodtrails in 2018. “My second project, FSM Foodtrails, is fully focused on educating Assam’s rural communities to boost local food tourism. I want these talented women to gain more exposure and awareness of the treasure they are custodians of – their local foods and recipes. This is only possible by offering them a connection to the global market through digital marketing. Our pilot project was with the women who live in Manas National Park, which attracts national and international tourists in droves. Travelers have a unique chance to experience the lifestyle of this ethnic tribe, learn more about their rich habitat and traditional cuisine.”
As part of FSM Foodtrails, Dutta trains the local women in the basics of hospitality, e.g. B. How to follow a code of conduct and cook for a global audience with minimal waste.
In addition, she personally accompanies travelers on these culinary tours so they can experience first hand how to source raw materials and materials, learn more about them, cook traditional dishes with the locals and dine in a rustic setting.
Manas National Park is the first operational tour site where she works with the communities living on the fringes, most of whom belong to the Bodo tribe. The food served here includes traditional Bodo delicacies prepared with locally available and fresh produce such as herbs and vegetables that are exclusively local and hard to find elsewhere. Menus change based on seasonal availability of natural ingredients.
The next edition of FSM Foodtrails culinary tours begins in the fall when Manas National Park reopens to travelers from around the world. Dutta also plans to gradually add more places to the list of her FSM Foodtrails. Until then, she enthusiastically invites travelers from around the world in search of an exceptional travel experience to explore her beautiful state, its wildlife, rural lifestyle and of course its rich food culture.