Vanasundari, unique chicken dish from forests in Kerala

- February 29, 2024
| By : Idrees Bukhtiyar |

The delicacy, prepared with spices found only in forests of Attapaddy, makes waves at the Saras Aajeevika Mela in Noida

In a celebration of culinary diversity at the ongoing Saras Aajeevika Mela in Noida, a group of women from Attappady village, a tribal settlement in Kerala, is busy preparing Vanasundari chicken.

The name of the dish conveys its meaning — Vana means forest and Sundari means beautiful. Locals call it ‘a chicken of the forests’ because all its ingredients are sourced from the forest.
The cuisine reflects the rich culinary tradition of the region, which has been passed down to the new generation.
“This is the traditional dish of our village. Our aim is to take it to the larger audience and promote it in every part of India,” says Kamlana, 50, head chef.
She says that this is the traditional dish of Attappady village in Kerala and is not cooked anywhere in India.
“It is only cooked in our village and the reason for that is its ingredients, especially spices, are available only in the forests of Attappady. You will not find this cuisine cooked in any hotel in Delhi,” she says.
Another chef Vasanta, 38, says, “Vanasundari chicken is a vibrant green delicacy infused with a blend of pudina, green leaves, green pepper, Kozhi Jeera (Leaf from forests) and small green chillies (Kanthari chillies) that makes it spicy. We are making it without the use of oil and masalas and that makes it healthy to eat. It’s being loved by all who visit here.”
She says that they are a group of five women who were trained under the government’s self-help groups (SHG) programme some 24 years ago.
“Since then, we have been taking this food to other parts of India too. This is the sixth time we have brought this traditional food to Delhi. We had sales of Rs 5 lakh during a food mela in the national capital in 2018,” she says.
Valiama, another chef in the group, says that festivals like Saras Mela provide employment opportunities to women.
“We also get to showcase the traditional food of our area to the world,” she added.
Visitors at the exhibition admired the chefs for introducing this unique dish which is known for its unique flavour and cultural authenticity.
Saras Aajeevika Mela, a colourful fair, started on February 16 and will conclude on March 4 at Noida Haat in Sector 33A. It features artefacts from over 400 rural women from 28 states and includes items such as handicrafts, handloom and regional cuisines.

When: February 16 to March 4

Where: Noida Haat in Sector 33A