A Biryani Festival Fights Child Hunger

Roni Mazumdar, Ricky Singh, Shagun Mehandru, Gaurav Anand, Varli Singh, Dr. Sudhir Parekh and guests

Roni Mazumdar, Ricky Singh, Shagun Mehandru, Gaurav Anand, Varli Singh, Dr. Sudhir Parekh and guests


A Biryani That Tastes Good, Does Good

Can biryani save the world? As life-long fans we certainly hope so!

Recently Varli Singh of Diya Foundation for Children and  Gaurav Anand and Shagun Mehandru of Awadh came together to host a Biryani Festival, which not only tasted good but did good.

Diya Rice is distributed by Varli and Ricky Singh via Ricky’s Food Service, one of the large distributors of Indian food items to Indian restaurants. Varli is a passionate advocate of Indian food and publishes Varli magazine, conducts a food festival, a culinary awards night and several cookouts annually under the Varli brand.  She says, “We wanted to link the name of the foundation and the name of the rice so that people could see the connection and have the affection. The Diya Basmati brand was specifically created to benefit the foundation and it will continue doing that.”


Different biryanis served at the Festival

Different biryanis served at the Festival


The World  in a Grain of Rice

Shagun Mehandru and Gaurav Anand of Awadh decided to get involved in hosting the event  because of Varli’s dedication to promoting the cause of Indian food in the US: “We’ve seen Varli and Ricky do so much to bring Indian food and restaurateurs on the map, we wanted to reciprocate,” says Mehandru.  ” All the four biryanis at the event were cooked with Diya rice and it was the one way we could not only showcase Awadh and its food, but support a worthy charity  at the same time – the Diya Foundation. Diya rice is now being used at Awadh for everyday cooking and is on the menu as the rice for the biryanis.”

The evening at Awadh had many supporters from the food and media worlds, including  Dr. Sudhir Parekh of the Parikh Media Group who putting medicine and publishing aside, gamely cooked a  gourmet dish with Chef  Gaurav Anand as guests watched the process.

Ask Varli about Diya Foundation and she explains that it is dedicated to providing education, medical care and nutrition to children in places where these basic needs are not being met, in India and Bangladesh.  Diya works with local partners on the ground – hospitals, kitchens, and schools to ensure all aid is being provided directly to the children.

Children helped by Diya Foundation

Children helped by Diya Foundation

Helping Kids Get a Better Future…

Since a portion of proceeds from Diya Rice is earmarked for the Diya Foundation, you’ll be happy to know that the rice you eat is helping eye care and hearing test campaigns at various schools,  besides providing hearing aids, sweater and coats, shoes, school fees and free meals to children at various schools.  Some of the schools these donations are made to include  Sweekaar Special School for the Deaf & Hearing Handicapped, Sri Saraswathi Shishu Mandir High School, St.Joseph School,  VMR Grammer High School in India and Shahid Ahmed Ali Mahmud Memorial Girls High School in Bangladesh.

“Ever since I was a teenager I would sacrifice my pocket money to help needy kids,” recalls Varli Singh. “Today Diya Basmati is distributed in numerous Indian restaurants and a major part of the net proceeds from the sale of this rice is being donated to the Diya Foundation which is finally helping me achieve my dreams.” In her many food-related activities, be it the Kids Food Festival or a cookbook she has authored, a part of the proceeds always go to benefit Diya Foundation and its campaign against child hunger.

Diya Rice is sold only to restaurants and online. So now there’s a way to eat your biryani and have it too! Enjoy a great meal and at the same time help kids in need.

Visit Diya Save a Child.org for ways to help children


About Author

Lavina Melwani is a New York-based journalist who writes for several international publications. [email protected] & @lassiwithlavina Sign up for the free newsletter to get your dose of Lassi!

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