Baiga tribe: cuisine and culture


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Baiga ThaliI - Cuisine and culture of baiga Tribe-Madhya Pradesh Tourism

One of the oldest tribal communities of Madya Pradesh, the Baigas are mostly forest dwellers as they prefer living in close proximity to nature. In fact, the largest concentration of this tribal community is found in the Mandla and Balaghat districts of Madhya Pradesh. They possess a sound knowledge of the therapeutic properties of the flora and fauna found in the forests of the state. In fact, it is believed that the term 'baiga' originated from the word 'vaidya', which in Hindi means healer.


Baiga cuisine primarily consists of such coarse grains as kodo millet and kutki, and involves the use of very little flour. Another staple food of the community is pej, a drink that is prepared from ground macca or from the water left from boiling rice. This drink keeps the body cool.

The mahua flower is used in numerous ways in Baiga cuisine. Mahua beverage (a fermented drink made of sun-dried mahua flowers) is not only popular among the members of the Baiga tribe but is also used as holy water or elixir during various festivals and ceremonies. It is a tradition to offer this beverage to every guest and relatives visiting the house by the host. Sun-dried chopped mahua flowers are also added in their sweet dishes. Oil extracted from the flower is used in cooking and by the elderly to cure joint pain.


Baiga men wear truss and cover their heads with a piece of cloth. Baiga women, on the other hand, wear dhoti to cover their body. During special occasions, men wear haptos & patka i.e shirt, a small piece of cloth around their waist and jacket, and cover their head with a turban. Women wear saris and are very fond of silver jewellery / ornaments.