On Saturday, seven food items from Manipur were launched under the Make In India initiative. These include black rice laddoo, black rice fruit-and-nut cookies, hot and spicy bhujia, kabok mixture (sweet dish made of flattened rice), Manipuri casava burfi, bamboo shoot murabba and fig laddoo. Although Manipuri cuisine doesn't have words like murabba and laddoo, it is clear that these products were revamped to have a wider appeal outside the state; a classic case of how food evolves.
Prahlad Singh Patel, Union Minister of State for Food Processing Industries and Jal Shakti, launched them in Imphal. "Across the globe, we have high demands for Indian goods including those from the North-eastern states. Our main concern is maintaining the quality of manufactured items, which is also the expectation of consumers," he pointed out in a story published on Hindustan Times yesterday. The story reported that these food items were produced ‘under the Incubation Lab project of Manipur Food Industries Corporation Limited (MFICL) in collaboration with TQS Global, Ghaziabad with a budget provision of ₹10 lakh.’
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In April 2020, chak-hao, the black rice of Manipur, gained a GI tag. It is an aromatic glutinous rice, native to the state and a few regions in the northeast. It is revered for its nutritional properties. In the last five years, it has been adopted by restaurants like the Yazu and The Bombay Canteen in Mumbai. Online retail stores, such as For8 and The Northeast Store, made chak-hao accessible to urban Indian kitchens that stock up on foods regarded for their nutritional benefits and tags like indigenously-grown and organically produced. Now, even Amazon, Food Hall and Godrej Nature's Basket offer chak-hao.
With the government launching products infused with this ingredient, it is predicted that the native rice variety would get a further boost.
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Patel underscored the significance of packaging and branding to market these items. A PTI story published yesterday reported that the labelling and packaging is being carried out in Imphal, Delhi and Mumbai. The story quoted Patel as saying—“The product launch today is the beginning, we will be launching more in the future.”