Real Bread in India

Lisa Wilson, part of the extended Virtuous Bread family, is working for an NGO in India.  From there she writes about the friendships that are made whilst rolling out the perfect roti…

“I am living and working for an NGO, a free residential school for deaf and disabled children named ‘Mamta Mandir’ in a village called Navsari in the Gujarat state of India.  It was founded on Gandhian principles in 1971 by a lovely man called Mahesh Kothari (he had strong links with the Nehru family and was going to be sent to Harvard by President Nehru to study, however whilst working closely with an Indian Saint, a chap called Vinod Bhave – Gandhi’s spiritual successor and also an inspiration for Satish Kumar, he was convinced to start the school instead).

The school concentrates on the education and training of 300 students from all over India.  The students are from different backgrounds, and the school educates them “with a view to have more avenues for the livelihood of disabled students throughout India”.   In addition to their basic education, the students are provided with pre-vocational training in an area of their choice:  computing, printing, spinning, weaving, woodwork etc.

Stones in India for milling grain
Stones in India for milling grain

The photo of the millstones is taken at a local family’s house. The Gujarati people either buy flour from local shops or from the mill. It is also quite common for people to grind flour at home. There are four different qualities of grain ranging from 25 rupees per kg to 150 rupees per kg.  Different types of grain are used here; mainly wheat, but we also have rice flour, paddy, maize and something called bajra. This is all used to make the wonderful varieties of scrumptious flat breads – chapattis, rotis, puris (deep fried), bhakir (small and thick- delicious), parathas (triangle shaped)…

Students at the school's grinder
Lisa at the home of the family who owns the mill stones

I explained Virtuous Bread to a trustee of the school, a brilliant man named Nilesh, and he’s totally down with the ethos and thinks it’s most important to “share the people’s skills and share God’s gifts.”   The school employs local people to work in the kitchen where the food is either grown on site or sourced locally.

Students at the school's mixer
A pile of roti dough balls waiting to be rolled
In India the women roll the rotis
Students making roti

The female students have a rota for roti rolling everyday to feed the students and staff. The ladies in the photo making the dough balls are Taraben (ben is Gujarati for sister) and Hiraben, they do not speak a word of English, and my Gujarati is basic to say the least, but somehow we have a great laugh and they supply me with endless cups of chai. The girls Ankita (11) Dipali (15) Sonal (15) are beautiful lovely girls, and as they are deaf we communicate through sign language and they have shown me how to roll the perfect roti.  We gather each morning, on the kitchen floor all together and its lovely.”

Lisa learning how to roll roti
Roti and chai: perfection on a plate?


Click here and here to read more about rotis and their importance in food, family, friendships, and maintaining the cosmic balance Click here to read more about Satish Kumar.

5 thoughts on “Real Bread in India”


    MISS U ALL….


  2. Thanks Upasana, glad you liked it! Come over to visit the school anytime and roll rotis with us! 🙂

  3. Hi Lisa, what an interesting read, I sm a trustee of the schools at Mamta mandir and I am coming out with a group of young people from the uk in February , only 2 weeks to go now , we spend our time giving sports music and arts and crafts to all 3 schools , .
    Will you be there when we come over or have you moved on?
    I have been visiting the schools since 2007 and come over twice a year with new groups who do all kinds of fundraising to enable the visit,
    Regards, Jill

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