IFOD - Everything you need to know

Thaalis from Indian regional cuisines. 
What are IFOD (Indian Food Observance Days)?
Indian traditional culinary practices evolved and transformed over time as our cuisine evolved. Ingredients, their uses, cooking methods, food combinations, a seasonal food calendar, Indian dietetics, and dining etiquette, traditional practices have all been built into the Indian culinary system with sound reasoning behind them. However, all of this knowledge is orally passed down through generations. And we are losing touch with more and more. This is where IFOD come in. Around the world, special observance days dedicated to food, called ‘food days’ are celebrated. These pay tribute to specific ingredients, foods, dishes and cuisines. India, despite being home to a rich culinary tradition, had few such days. The IFOD calendar is an initiative begun in 2016 to fill that gap.

IFOD or Indian Food Observance Days follow the traditional annual food production and consumption calendar of India (EG Pickling would happen in April, masalas would be made in May etc). So a day dedicated to any of these is at that time of year, and marking it means, we all collectively stop and make that pickle or grind that masala like our predecessors would have following a cycle that’s existed for centuries! The idea is to celebrate them offline through community pickling, badis and papad, making or potlucks for food tastings) and online to spread awareness and encourage practice and consumption of traditional foods.

Objectives on IFOD
  • Promote cooking, production and consumption of traditional foods and dishes.
  • Promote & support the goal of keeping foodways and traditions alive
  • Keep traditional ingredients in use thereby supporting local farmers and food producers
  • Bring people together around food and celebrate Indian food and its cross with culture.  
Annual Indian Food Observance Day Calendar (Click on the days to read more on how you can celebrate them.) 
1. Dal Divas January 21 #DalDivas
3. Achaar Day - April 22 #AchaardayPapad
4. PapadBadi Day - May 13 #PapadBadiday
5. Masala Day - May 20 #MasalaDay
6. Pulao Biryani Day - June 24-#PulaoBiryaniDay
7. Chai Pakoda Day - July 30 #ChaiPakodaDay
8. Chutney Day - September 24 #ChutneyDay
9. Laddu Day - October 15 #LadduDay
10. Indian Breads Day - 9 Dec #IndianBreadsDay

How do I participate?
Offline real time ways to celebrate IFOD days
1. Consume the Food being celebrated - The simplest way to support IFOD is to just cook, buy or eat the food being celebrated on a particular food day. That’s all!

2. Cook and document the food being celebrated - Learn or rediscover family or community recipes. Don’t cook it? Now is the time to learn. Know how to cook it, pass it on to the next generation. Connect with expert cooks you know to learn and document special much loved recipes so they are not forgotten.

3. Organise a Community Food meetup - Cook up a storm, organise a potluck, and get friends and family together over the food being celebrated!

For Communities -  (Offline food groups, pot luck groups, online communities lif FB food groups and cookign forums, IFOD are great for community meetups. To get an idea Read about the #AchaarDay community meetup of 2019 or watch the video of the #AchaarDay potluck in 2018

Online ways to celebrate IFOD Days
Many foods, IFOD focus on are more concepts than dishes (eg. Pakodas are a concept, with a million possible variations). And each person that shares adds a new variation on a much loved food. So a large part of IFOD learning comes from as many conversations happening as possible, and the WWW offers fabulous avenues to propagate these. What's more, the learning is not limited, everyone can tune in. Also (it has to be said…) the sheer high of an Indian food day trending is undeniable (though never the only objective).
So while nobody is required to, if you are so inclined, take a selfie with or click a picture of the food being celebrated and share it with the appropriate #hashtag (EG. eat a Pulao or Biryani on #PulaoBiryani Day and share it on you Twitter, Facebook, Instagram to add your voice to all of those celebrating.)

 Who can participate?
Anyone. Everyone.
You may be someone who simply loves food, or is an avid cook, or a lover of Indian food. Or a home cook, chef, food blogger, home chef.... a part of the food industry, or larger food fraternity or not. It does not matter if you have no connect to food. IFOD are about celebrating foods we all love and to be truly celebrated, every voice counts! If you believe in these days, love these foods, have something to say about celebrating Indian culinary heritage you are welcome!,Just come on in and join the celebrations! Anyone can participate, as little or as much as you like.  

Why should I Participate ?
At a personal level - if you like to taste new things, try new experiences, learn about food, add new recipes to your repertoire, you will get all this and more. Simply track the relevant hashtags on social media. You will find in depth insights on the history, evolution, varieties and varied recipes, also places to find these foods at in your city and opportunities to connect with like minded foodies and much more!

The lineup of pros for #ChaiPakodaDay 2017 Pakoda festival
special menu at Soda Bottle Opener Walla.

For Professional & food industry folk - (Food producers, caterers, pop-up specialists, home chefs, Chefs, food businesses, restaurateurs, restaurant publiscists and PR folk). At their simplest you can leverage IFOD topics to create new content for your social media channels around your own dishes and recipes. But invest thought and time and these concepts offer unique new ways to create new menu offerings, promotional festivals and more that will be great hooks to bring in patrons and create options for media stories. And you can use the hashtags to promote new posts and #replug old posts, to enrich your social media updates on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and more.

Chef Ashish Bagul teaches heirloom Dal recipes for #DalDivas 2019

For the Food Chronicler - Food writers, journalists, bloggers, vloggers, photojournalists, photographers, food show producers and/or anyone who produces content of any kind for print and media. IFOD offers unbelievable learning for you. You are also the most empowered to support IFOD with the power of the pen and documentation on your print, digital and social media platforms. And IFOD topics will keep giving back, because each of them offers rich ideas for content.

IFOD are about concepts. This shot of Laddus
illustrates it beautifully... One laddu, so many variations
Food Articles and Blogposts - IFOD offer all sorts of grist for stories! History, food memories, stories, trends, trivia, listicles, varieties, recipes old and new from family and communities, interviews of food producers, write about epic destinations for specific foods are just some examples. To get an idea read Pooja Bhullas account in DNA about participating in #MasalaDay 2017 Masala Exchange: Tasting India through traditional home-made spice mixes, check how many pickles you have tasted from this #AchaarDay 2019 list by Hungry Forever or relive a special food memory like Anubhuti Krishna in this #SubziTarkariDin 2019 blogpost on her Nanis Parval Aloo.

Food Styling and Photograpahy - ingredients, street food, home cooking, restaurant
Just some breads on #Instagram for #IndianBreadsDay
dishes,  all make fab photo content  around these topics follow and of the IFOD hashtags on Instagram and you will see what I mean!

Food Art - go beyond images to be inspired by food in different mediums of your choice! From illustrations to paintings, IFOD offers so much inspiration.  

Video content - (Vlogs, recipe videos, Facebook lives from food shops, markets or local establishments, explorations of food). Check out this video of our first ever IFOD potluck for #PapadBadiDay 2018 in which we recorded 40 odd papads, 12 Badi based dishes that got 1 million views or this video in whihc I take you through Masalas from around India for #MasalaDay 2018  that got a whopping 948K views!

THE IFOD Community
To connect with fellow IFOD enthusiasts, join the Indian Food Observance Days group on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/groups/172041243425379/
Or just keep track and learn about Indian Food Days and Festivals by following the Annual Indian Food Calendar Page on Facebook  - https://www.facebook.com/IndianFoodObservance/
To connect with IFOD communities in cities of India…
Feel free to get creative with other ideas and share them in comments for us to implement as well!
We simply want everyone to talk about the food days using the hashtags, looking forward to some delicious posts/blogs/videos! And so much learning!

A special note for teachers and students of Hospitality Institutions -
Faculty and students of Shiela Raheja showcasing
their chutneys for #ChutneyDay 
IFOD makes a fantastic way for students to discover Indian food in all its variety. To collaborate on something like this please write to me at rushina (at) apbcookstudio (dot) com.

Here is a small case study - For #ChutneyDay 2017 IFOD collaborated with the Sheila Raheja Institute of Hotel Management, Mumbai collaborated for a one-day, on-ground celebration that was a culmination of a two week long recipe documentation and presentation project. Hospitality students are quite involved with the commercial kitchen but do not given importance to the home kitchen. So the faculty and I got together for a unique project. I gave the students a lecture on documenting traditional recipes that come in pinches and handfuls. They were then asked to go home and document one chutney recipe each. At the end of two weeks they showcased the recipes that they gathered from their home kitchens at an event attended by members of the food fraternity, journalists, writers, food bloggers and their families. At the end of it, their faculty wrote to us saying “The idea of this project, getting kids to discover home kitchens and the event and the showcase was stellar! Everyone including us faculty learned about chutneys ingredients we couldn’t have imagined of. A true learning experience for everyone." Watch a live video from the event here

IFOD days in the Press

Seema Mattoo of Times of India covers launch of IFOD in May 2017
Monika Manchanda writes about IFOD in The Quint in Sept 2017
Economic TImes covers #MasalaDay 2018 in Bangalore
Anubhuti Krishna covers #SubziTarkariDin and IFOD in the The Hindu in Apr 2018

Contact us
IFOD is growing and we are in the process of adding to the volunteer teams that make it run. To volunteer time, for more information, to share ideas or anything else, please leave comments or write to me at Rushina (at) apbcookstudio (dot) com. 

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