After our Banahsankari/Jaynagar temple visits we stopped by at Vaathsalya’s Millet Cafe at J.P.Nagar for lunch. It is probably Bangalore’s only Millet cafe, that serves a wide range of dishes, and almost everything is made from Millets.
We relished the freshly made healthy Thali that consisted of 2 Millet rotis, 1 Sprouted Sabji, veg Sabji , Chutney , Raita, 3 Varieties of rice (Millet Curd Rice, Millet Coloured Rice and Red Rice), Millet Payasam, Millet Butter Milk and papad. Thats a lot of nutrition and taste for only Rs 230/-. The food is healthy and tasty – less oil, less spice. They don’t use preservatives, baking soda or food colours. Even white rice is not used. The motto is Healthy grains in a Healthy way.
The cafe is a nice calm homely place, very traditional, very unique. They also have a store called Jawari that sells a wide variety of millets , ready to use millet products like Ragi malt , Ragi Dosa Mix etc. Jawari also sells Handloom clothes for women sourced from village artisans. Sarees, Kurtis, Salwars, Stoles , handicraft Items and a wide variety of Pots. The women in the group loved the collection and felt that the rates were very reasonable.
Vaathsalya is indeed a unique must visit restaurant for vegetarians – but what is more fascinating is the story behind Vaathsalya. The determination and passion of Jyoti the lady whose only goal in life is to promote and share the goodness of millets. I had a long discussion with her and this lady is in love with millets. Her eyes sparkle and she went non stop for 90 minutes talking about her passion.
Born in a rural Lingayat family near Hampi she was the 9th child amongst a large family of 11 children. As a child she loved art & mathematics ( a rare combination) – and had a deep sense of compassion for the Lambani women who used to perform annually at their hometown. She visited the houses of these tribals in her Luna moped and was smitten by the skill and dexterity that these otherwise tough looking people had. This was also when she realised that women work harder put are paid lesser.
Her journey with Millets started when her 2nd son a sports enthusiast broke his hand and the doctors advised a high nutrition diet to strengthen his bones. Her son refused to eat Ragi Mudde as it was brown and not tasty. This took her to CFTRI (Central Food Technology Institute – Mysore). She just walked in one day and was lucky to get an audience with Dr Malleshi – one of India’s leading researchers on millets. He taught her how to make ragi Malt.
She was thrilled – Ragi malt tasted like any chocolate drink – and her son loved it. This is where the journey started. At CFTRI she learnt the basics of cooking tasty healthy food for her family. A devoted mother of 3 sons she was thrilled that she had finally learnt the art of cooking healthy, nutritious, tasty meals for her family. The motherly love or ” Vaathsalya” was flowing with joy.
Back in Bangalore she then did a 1 week course at the Gandhi Krishi Vignana Kendra Bangalore (GKVK – Part of Bangalore University). The program was on different ways of cooking with Ragi. This is where she learnt the nutritional values of Ragi and how it was grown organically with no pesticides and very little water. It was an eye opener to her when she realised that 70 years back Millets was the staple diet in India but had slowly got replaced with Rice & Wheat.
She was very excited and happy – since then spreading the good word about millets and Ragi became her mission in life. She spent 2 + years at GKVK learning, teaching, contributing, participating in Krishi Melas trying to spread the message. But it was tough going – inspite of the inherent advantage of Millets it was not an easy sell. She took her menus and ” how to cook” guides to big hotels pleading with them to include the Millet dishes in their menu – but they all refused
That is when the idea of a restaurant was conceived and Vaathsalya was born. Taking a 25 Lac loan it was a struggle for a housewife to start a business. But the drive and passion of Jyoti had no stopping. Initially it was difficult to even get a cook – and Jyoti managed the kitchen by herself for two years. She now trains women to cook and manages a team of 12 staff who cook and serve the fresh tasty food at her restaurant. The first 2 months she served her food free. Slowly over years the concept has picked up and is now attracting attention.
Large Corporates and Spiritual Guru’s have approached her to sell her products to them so that they can promote it under their own brand. But she is skeptical and is passionate about the Vaathsalya brand. She has even developed 5 ready to use products.
She manages a good show – Sat / Sun her restaurant of about 60 seats is sold out. A lot of business also comes as takeaway. The best seller Thali is available for Lunch and Dinner and her cafe is open from 10 AM to 8 PM.
Do check out this lovely place and as a respect to the admirable spirit of Jyoti spread the word about the goodness of Millets.
Address : 277, 15th Cross, 21 Main, Outer Ring Road, JP Nagar 5th Phase, JP Nagar, Bangalore
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