This foodie interview comes all the way from Pench Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh and is brought to us by Mahua Bose, the founder of Kohka Organics. Her unique idea and motive behind starting Kohka Organics is an inspiration to us. By growing and selling the organic food, Mahua has found her way to promote the women tribals of Kohka Village in Madhya Pradesh. Her office is the farm at Pench and she absolutely loves to stay with nature all day!
Read what she has to say about her affair with the nature, organic food and working for the local women of Kohka village. And there is a recipe of Pumpkin Kheer shared by Mahua Bose. Scroll down to read.
Tell us about yourself. How did you become passionate about food?
I gave up the concrete jungle life of Delhi for a peaceful and soulful life around the green forest area and settled in Pench Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh. I had quit my media profession too and turned to supporting sustainable livelihood for the tribes in the area through Kohka Organics. This is where I realized what food is all about while helping/working with my husband, Shourabh Ghosh, co-owner of Kohka Wilderness Camp.
What’s Kohka Organics is about?
“Kohka Organics” is an initiative of Kohka Foundation which we started while running Kohka Wilderness Camp. Our aim is to provide sustainable livelihoods to the tribes of Kohka Village at Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh. We focus on reviving old ways of preparation, recipes and preservation of products. Here everything is natural, organic, sourced and prepared by the females of Kohka Village. The produce is made using natural and fresh goods and no artificial preservatives are used. From Grains, Spices to Vegetables and even the Oil used is all procured locally and organically.
When did you know you wanted to be a food entrepreneur?
Well, I never thought of it “that I’ll be a food entrepreneur”, but with experience and being a foodie I understood the true meaning of good quality food and what it does to the body. And after realizing all the goodness I felt that the best I can do is share it.
Did you get training in setting up the Kohka Organics?
My training! I am a bit of self-taught, good bit from my mom’s and also local recipes of Madhya Pradesh. My women self-help group help me to revive old lost recipes.
What’s the story behind starting Kohka Organics?
It all started with growing own food and making preservatives. Once that was done we started to share and fortunately, everyone started to like it and asked for more. It is then a name was given “Kohka Organics”. We serve everything organic here in our resort ‘Kohka Wilderness Camp’. We grow Vegetables on our own. Honey comes from the forest, pickles, spread, papad, vadi all organic and natural. One fine day my husband said, ‘why don’t you do it on a bit large scale so that our guests take back organic memories to home. This is how it started and now I have a small women brigade.
What is your favourite food memory?
All food is good. But since you asked I am sure everyone will agree that “Ghar ka khana” is the best. I feel lucky that our property also serves simple, delicious “Ghar ka khana” where we all take personal care of the Oil, Spices and Vegetables used.
How do you get your inspiration?
When I saw the Fruits and Vegetables on the plants/trees that I had sown grow in front of me.
What has enabled you to find success?
What do you find new and exciting about the food industry?
More and more people are getting inspired by Organic food and the Industry adopting it is something good to see.
The Biggest Challenges you faced while starting your venture?
From a lavish media house in Delhi to work long hours under the harsh sun with rural women.
What keeps you going?
The constructive feedback.
What is your day like?
Work in my organic garden, roam in the jungle and play with my labrador 😀
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Well! It’s too early to say anything, I am taking baby steps, learning every day. I just want to do my work sincerely and want to grow my women brigade and empower them.
What do you most love about your job?
No traffic jams, no rush to reach office on time. The jungle is my workstation and I am loving it.
A recipe that you would want the entire world to know.
A popular dessert among tribes of Madhya Pradesh. It’s Ripened Pumpkin Kheer recipe. Ingredients- 1. Ripe Pumpkin- 250 gm 2. Milk- 1 ltr 3. One bay leaf 4. half teaspoon cardamom powder 5. chopped dry fruits 6. Gur (Jaggery)- 200 gms How to make- Take a Deep pan, pour milk and drop a bay leaf. Reduce the milk to half. Meanwhile, deseed the riped pumpkin and steam it, add the pumpkin to milk and cook for 5 minutes. Just before switch off the gas add crushed jaggery and stir well, soon gur dissolve then add cardamom powder and chopped dry fruit. This kheer tastes delicious as well as looks delicious, its slight yellowish in colour. P.S. don’t add jaggery in mid of the preparation.
Favourite ingredient to cook with?
What do you do for fun?
I try to bake goodies and fail 😛
If you had just one wish, what would it be?
I wish I had one big-big Mango Farm.
Best piece of advice you would give a food enthusiast?
Eat Healthy, Cook Healthy and keep one day as a cheat day.
Three tips for the ones who look for starting a food business
- Go Natural. 2. Believe in your taste. 3. Work Hard
— As told to Sara Khan
Sharing some of the pics and videos from the Kohka Organics’ Instagram profile page.
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