We are incredibly grateful for the immense support and enthusiasm you’ve shown towards this recent feature on Dongaon Local. We’re pleased to inform you that due to this high demand, Dongaon Local has reached its capacity for the current batch of orders. We understand many of you are eager to experience the unique taste of Dongaon Local’s ghee. Rest assured, we will promptly update our Instagram stories and this webpage as soon as more ghee is available.
Thank you for your patience and for being a vital part of our journey towards celebrating and sustaining local food cultures and practices.
– Team Locavore
Dongaon Local is named after the village it is set-up in. A small village by the Godavari river, it is straddled between two districts, Aurangabad and Ahmednagar in Maharashtra. The village’s small farming community owns many cows, as a result of which they often make ghee with the surplus milk. But only once the calves are fed, and milk is sent over to the dairy.
The micro-enterprise was founded in 2022 by Neeraja Dhorde, a visual designer by profession, along with her mother Anita Dhorde. It was during Covid-19, when she shifted to her birthplace for six months, that she first saw potential for a small and meaningful business. Being wedged between two districts has implications that are unfavourable to Dongaon—for instance, neglected governance, poor healthcare, and road connectivity issues.
With her mother’s help, Neeraja began by selling ghee through word of mouth marketing, based on an old family recipe passed down through generations. Soon, they started reaching out to other women farmers in the community keen to join their efforts, and encouraged them to become a part of their enterprise.
The desi ghee is made using traditional methodologies that have been practised in the village for centuries, owing to which the taste and quality are consistent. The milk is boiled until saay (cream in Marathi) floats, after which it is added to a previous culture. It takes two to four days to make chakki (curd). The curd is churned for loni (white butter), which is then boiled to make ghee.
Homemade ghee is made in small batches, and only on order.
The Locavore Bite
TL Bite offers a glimpse into how a partner producer runs their operations, and reflects their core principles and values. The idea is to provide insights into their practices and highlight their positive efforts descriptively. We have identified seven key areas of assessment – origin and source of ingredients, composition and integrity of the products, workforce policies, production practices, community-related initiatives, approach towards preserving or celebrating traditional knowledge and the materials used in packaging. While this assessment may not be entirely comprehensive, we hope it helps you make an informed decision about why you might want to support them, and the ways in which to.
The information below offers you a snapshot of where Dongaon Local stands on these parameters. We have put this together based on several rounds of conversation with Neeraja Dhorde, co-founder of Dongaon Local. Click on a piece of the pie below to find out more.
Why We Love Dongaon Local
- Supporting rural women’s livelihoods – Dongaon Local’s business model is centred around giving women in the village a sense of financial independence by putting their skills and knowledge to use.
- Keeping traditional practices alive – In actively using recipes and techniques that have been passed down orally, they help preserve traditional knowledge and practices that are integral to Dongaon and its farming community.
- Ethical biodiverse interaction – Farmer-producers ensure that the calves are fed with adequate amounts of milk before it is utilised for personal consumption, or to make ghee. The cows are allowed to graze freely in pastures between producers’ homes and farms. Their cows, named Chandrika, Tambdi, Radha and Ekadashi are taken care of as if they are part of the family.
- Artisanal quality – The ghee making process involves no machines and is completely reliant on the knowledge and expert discretion of the producers. Adding herbs for a grainy texture is an important part of their traditional recipe.
Why is ghee making at the core of your work? What is the village, or community’s association with it?
“My perspective about food cultures changed completely while working with the farmers in Dongaon for my thesis project. While working on it, I started sharing a bit of Dongaon with my colleagues and friends far away. I sent them small jars of ghee made by women in Dongaon.
I also started speaking to women in the village about the possibility of a micro-enterprise, and familarising them with it. The response that I received from them was overwhelming because there was a desire to be entrepreneurial and financially independent.
We make ghee with the resources immediately available to us, along with a lot of love. It was a natural choice as it represents what our community and the village stands for. The ghee carries a sense of nostalgia and grandmother’s love, and that is what we wanted to share with our extended community when we started out.”
— Neeraja Dhorde, co-founder of Dongaon Local
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At The Locavore, we strive to keep the practices of a producer transparent and honest across all forms of partnerships.