New Delhi, Nov. 23 -- In a thatched hut in Pulsiguri, a village populated by the Bodo tribe and located on the fringes of the Manas National Park in Assam, a group of women are hard at work. Dressed in vibrant dokhona and jwmgra, they deftly chop vegetables, grind herbs and spices, soak silkworms and steam meat. The atmosphere in the kitchen is congenial, with good-humoured banter punctuated with giggles.

Sumitra Goyary, 32, rattles off the list of ingredients required for onla, local chicken cooked with rice flour. Her colleague, R.N., 31, gets the black urad dal ready for sobei, a traditional fowl dish. They are among the nearly 40 women who form part of the Gungzeema kitchen, an initiative to empower the wives of former poachers. Name...