As we entered Dilli Haat on November 20th, the sight before us was a bit different. While, on a normal day, it was mostly man who would be seen catering to customer requirements across stalls, that day majority was of women. The unusual shift in the “manning” of stores piqued our curiosity and we took to one of the nearest stalls to get the bigger picture. The Kitchen Factory was the name of the stall, and as we stepped in, we were so enticed by the Palak mathri and achari mathri, and the various roasted flex seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, melon seeds and watermelon seeds, that we almost forgot why we stepped inside in the first place, almost. Aarti Bhalla, a self-starter, enlightened us on the women entrepreneurial spirit, which is being reflected across Dilli Haat that day. In fact, it wasn’t for one day rather it’s for full 11 days that Dilli Haat saw these women entrepreneurs showcasing their journey as part of the The Women of India Exhibition 2015. The fest was from 13th to 23rd November and had featured organic products ranging from personal care, food, fabric, furniture and home decor. Organized by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development, the fest is aimed at empowering women from rural areas and promoting their entrepreneurial spirit.
Being women entrepreneurs on our own, the theme resonated with us. And while the initial plan for us were to simply explore Dilli Haat, with the new information in hand we became more inclined to explore that particular theme. That is how we ended up in the dairy-free milk corner. Compassionate Choice, who stood among the numerous stalls at The Women Of India Exhibition 2015, is offering just that – milk-free ice cream, curd, bakery products, milk and even kadi. Instead of milk, the main ingredients used are coconut, almond and soya, thus making them not only dairy free, but also cholesterol and oil free. The Company offers its products under the brand name, White Cub, through retail stores, such as Nature’s Basket.
While most of the participating brands were new ones, we happened to meet a namkeen brand that has been in the market for 18 years. Based out of Jaipur, the brand Rohit & Co. has its own factory that manufacturers Namkeen eatables like Ragi chips, gazak, roasted namkeen chana, fur chana, til gazak and diet gazak,, to name a few. All the preparations are made in pure ghee. Anyone familiar with the Tripolia Bazar of Jaipur would know of this brand as they have a very famous shop there by the name Dharam Singh Mohan Das. This visit also reflected the normal tendency of parents to make their children a part of their endeavors. While from the sound of it, there was no clarity on the owner, on further digging we knew that it indeed owned by a woman, who followed her motherly instinct and named it after her son.
While making random visits, we chanced upon Phesolsa, a cosmetic brand that had in display a huge range of its cosmetic products, starting from sun care cream to shampoos, hair oil and body oil to massage creams, toner, cleansing milk and cold cream. These products are all manufactured in Baddi in Himachal Pradesh. Its parent company, Bhandora Organics, also has a brand by the name Arogo that produces fresh and organic agricultural produce like different varieties of cereals, pulses, jaggery, and spices. These agricultural products are cultivated in their farm in Meerut and then sold in the retail market. Both these brands have been doing quite a decent business in the northern part of the country.
The entire place was teeming with enthusiasm, which is completely in sync with the spirit celebrated. And as we almost came to an end of our visit, we came across even a few man-led brands that became a part of this fest to celebrate women empowerment. Among them was Cafe Fresco, a brand which specializes in vegan products, ranging from vegan chocolates to walnuts, truffle eek veg soya rolls, veg muffins and so on. One of their another speciality is date squares, which is made out of a mixture of date and oats. The mouthwatering vegan delights were quite innovative in terms of the way some ingredients found their way from being a healthy conscious snack to be a happy dessert. Thus, we ended the day on a sweet note, happily cherishing our momentous decision to visit the place on that particular day.
– Ajnali Sethi Joshi / Samrita Baruah