The initiative not only provides these women from Kalwa for a job, but also has put them on a map with a cookery book that has a collection of all their recipes!
Gabriel Project Mumbai (GPM) is a Jewish volunteer-based NGO that cares for vulnerable children living in the city’s slums. Their work includes tackling malnutrition, inadequate health care and illiteracy.
Founded in 2012, the NGO was named after Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, an Israeli who was brutally murdered in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.
Mumbai’s slums, much like other poverty ridden parts of India, have children as young as four years old working as rag pickers and sewage cleaners because of acute poverty.
GPM tries to provide nutritious meals to children attending classes around the areas. Often, free meals alone are reason enough for parents to send their kids to government schools, and these kids to stick on.
But it’s not just the kids who have benefited from their hard work.
In a kitchen in Kalwa, a suburb on the outskirts of Mumbai, a trio of women from a collective prepare these nutritious meals, as reported by Midday. From various parts of Karnataka and Maharashtra, the women have made Kalwa their home for close to 30 years. Most of them live in one room-kitchen tenements in nearby chawls.
The food will feed 100 underprivileged children who study in class 1 to 4 of Joshua Greenberger Learning Centre, run by non-profit Gabriel Project Mumbai (GPM).
The ladies Ragini Godbole, Subhadra Khose and Sangita Raut, are a part of a catering service Delicio Food Company. It’s through this that they partnered with GPM.
Even the spices that go into the recipe are made in-house leaving the kitchen fragrant.
Given their skill and the authenticity of their food, writer and anthropologist Elana Sztokman, also the wife of founder Jacob Sztokman decided to curate a bunch of their recipes and compile it into a book called Masala Mamas, which will be published this December, and will be available in print and ebook format.
What’s in the book? Masala Mamas: Recipes and Stories from Indian Women Changing their Communities through Food and Love, contains 100 vegetarian recipes, mostly Maharashtrian in origin, shared by 16 women from the collective.
The book also has anecdotes that offer the reader a glimpse into their traditions and everyday lives. For instance, things like how to use turmeric for facial care or coconut oil for hair.
“They’ve also spoken about the experience of being a woman in India; the time they got married, when they stopped going to school, the expectations they have to live up to, and how their daughters are a little more independent than they were,” says Sztokman to Midday.
Sztokman told Midday that the book would help preserve their knowledge and skill, which stands the chance of getting lost in urban migration.
“It’s a win-win model. The children fulfil their nutrition and education requirements, and the women have a chance at economic empowerment,” adds Elana.
Back home in Israel, Elana hosted recipe trials with professionals from the hospitality industry to ensure every recipe in the book works.
The profits from the book sales will go towards supporting the women’s kitchen. Through the partnership with GPM, they currently earn Rs 16,000 per month as a group and are shareholders in Delicio Food Company.