Dalle- Sil Batta: Carrying the zest of woman empowerment in a bottle

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In the days of yore, women gathered around with their mortar and pestle, their washcloths, to discuss the mundane daily struggle of life; being always occupied and entangled in the vicious cycle of domestic chores; these women had their own rhythm of work which kept them occupied such that most of our mothers never saw their own mother languid. Growing up, how many of us are reminded by our grandparents about the glorious yesteryears before the invention of technology that completely twisted the society?

As the world looks back in retrospect, the retro culture is also found in the cuisine served in our kitchen. Plucked fresh and grounded traditionally, dalle khorsani (cherry pepper) paste is one such imperative part of our dining tables. The Raja Mircha, commonly known as Naga King chilly carries its legacy of Nagaland, while dalle, the red, round pungent-smelling fireball is an identification of our culture. Since dalle is seasonal and most of us preserve them in our jars to relish them the year-round, the paste, however, needs to be made out of fresh harvest, which is not available throughout. Therefore, in order not to disappoint our taste buds, Greenly has come up with a product that ensures our platter is complete.

“Dalle – Sil Batta’ packaged bottles

‘Dalle- Sil Batta’, the cherry pepper paste is a produce of Greenly, a local home company of Kalimpong, West Bengal, that believes in women empowerment and sustainability for the preservation of culture and flavour of much-loved dalle khorsani.

One can get any chilli sauce from the supermarket and departmental stores with FSSAI marked on the spindle-shaped bottle, so why choose Dalle- Sil Batta?

The advisor and designer of Greenly, Anubhav shares how their product is different from the other chillies and spices, in terms of its manufacturing and processing.

“I have been visiting Kalimpong for many years and dalle has been one of the unique things about Kalimpong and our culture. After many visits, I was disconcerted how dalle was still not recognized. So, in a way Greenly has justified dalle”.

In addition to this, he adds the usage of sil batta in common language silauto-lauro (mortar and pestle) as a substitute to the machine.

“When we push the button, we kill many jobs”, he says. 

‘Trio’ Nila S Ghatani, Chukki B Ghatani and Meena Singh displaying ‘Dalle – Sil Batta‘ in an exhibition fair

It is indeed a work of patience and the packaging of dalle is manually done, reducing machinery with hand labour, which creates job opportunity also.

Grinding spices in a machine where blades cut through the skins to minute pieces make it lose its true flavour maintaining its consistency with the heat produced inside the machine. Thus, the bottled spices have fermented ingredients to preserve the freshness making dalle the first kind not to have such added preservatives.

Every sauce has a process of manufacturing which involves machinery and high level of technology and dilution to make the sauce edible and not enhancing its actual flavour. These sauces are high in SHU scale, which stands for Scoville Heat Units, a measurement scale for pungency/heat of a chilly to give them flavour, which is added to the artificial flavour, that further makes the chilly sauce just a tempering (tasks) element reducing its originality of taste.

Trio in an exhibition fair with the organizing officials

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) certified Greenly’s dalle is a women’s initiative to produce a product that does not compromise with the quality and is hand-grounded by women who have found their calling.

Four women of Kalimpong, Meena Singh Ghatani, housewife; Chuki Bhutia, housewife; Neela Ghatani, a school administrator and Sudha Rai, a teacher, has taken a leap of faith to preserve a culture in flavoured dalle.

The inception of Greenly Dalle was a wake-up call for the women involved, as they had invested their lives in the four walls of the house living lives for their families and children.

“We must do something for ourselves”, said Neela one day, and thus began a journey towards self-identity.

“Greenly is a blanket project. We have started with dalle, as we would like to share this local flavour with the world, especially for the people who are far away from home, who crave for their homemade dishes in foreign countries. Dalle brings out the essence of home. It has the flavour of our land. Only people with acquired taste for it can understand”.

Women folks in the production unit of ‘Dalle – Sil Batta’

To  clarify the uniqueness of Dalle, Neela asserts, “we did 35-40 experiments to preserve the uniqueness of this flavour which dalle has”.

As the world celebrates the past, the retro fashion, going back to one’s roots, and their concern regarding the nature, the excess inclination towards herbal and Ayurvedic products, these founders of Greenly too, believes in going green, going back to the manual sil batta without compromising with the flavour and packing love inside a bottle.

Of course, the task is humongous, a family that dares to dream in a small town by the river Teesta. A business run by women who’s played all the role of a daughter, wife and a mother and is set to play another role of an entrepreneur in a man’s world. Against all odds, these women have denied to take the easy road and has taken a higher one, their perseverance in the manual labour of plucking and packing and using the nature-friendly items and sticking with the original and traditional roots tells us a story of their integrity for the social cause.

The hands that rock the cradle and hands that roll the sil batta, the era of women has thus begun. Perhaps it is the world of women, they taught us wrong where kingdoms are built and pulled down for women.

Dalle‘ (Cherry Pepper)

Mother’s know what are the needs of the world. Greenly’s dalle is essentially a mother’s love packed and sealed. Also, an act of preservation of culture and regional flavour intact in the name and product.

The group associated with Greenly pledges to bring out the best of skill. It is indeed a work of patience. A self-help towards betterment, it is a ray of hope to all the women of the world that dreams about entrepreneurship, one can always spice life up.

Red is the symbol of power, it is the colour of blood, vitality and fire. Greenly’s dalle represents these in its flavour. Organically grown and hand-grounded by women, mostly mothers; dalle is a passion paste.

One can travel across the globe but cannot find the unique flavour it possesses which Greenly’s dalle promises to deliver in its sleek sustainable bottles.

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