As I dig into my katori of garlic-spinach-dal (lentil soup anyone?), another new favourite picked from the reliable Indira’s Mahanandi (and what’s this talk about not wanting to read what she and others had for lunch now?! 🙂 ), let me tell you what I did this past Monday afternoon. Yes, total goof-off on a Monday afternoon. Perks of being your own boss :).
It is related to food (and related shopping, I promise).
A few years ago, Delhi Tourism had a brilliant idea and transformed, with the help of Architect Pradeep Sachdev, an eye-sore of a drain into one of the most used public spaces of Delhi – the Dilli Haat – a place to showcase India’s crafts and regional cuisine. While the food is only barely passable with momos from the North-eastern states and a fruit beer (apple juice with soda!) being your best bet, the crafts are a wonderful different story. What is also good is that you interact with the craftspeople directly, avoiding the middleman.
Every year around this time Dastkar, a society for crafts and crafts people, organises the Nature Bazaar with interactive workshops and demonstrations, street plays, and folk musicians and dancers. You can find crafts and textiles from all over the country. Also on display and sale are organic foods, herbal medicines and cosmetics, and handmade paper. This year Dastkar is 25 years old.
I had a fun afternoon at the haat, TH in tow (I always need to know what his opinion is even if I don’t agree), on the last day of the Nature Bazaar this year. Gorged on the mandatory momos and fruit beer. Bought embroidered bags, a skirt, and a couple of gloriously colourful laharia dupattas! Wish you were here! 🙂
beads and shells
200 kinds of beans!
bags from recycled polythene!
And what is this??
(tip: also used in ayurvedic medicine)
It’s not mustard, look close…
Answers (Dec 09):
This was going to be hard. I discovered these spices at the Dilli Haat this time. These spices (including some red chillies I bought) are from the Kumaon hills in the Himalayas. Both are used in tadka (tempering).
The long cumin-like spice is know as kali jeeri or Centratherum anthelminticum, has a bitter taste (like methi seeds do) and is used with dishes believed to be ‘heavy’ such as kali dal or arbi. It is aslo beneficial in the treatment of diabetes, fever and psoriasis.
I used the mustard-like spice, which is called jakhia in the local language, in the tadka for a dry aloo-bhaaji, and like they lady at the stall promised, it gives a nice crunch (and a flavour I cannot describe 🙂 !). A Google search yielded little information. Our Kumaoni friends may be of some help here (Kamla are you reading this?). (BTW, pics 2 &3 are both of jakhia! I wanted to illustrate the interesting shape of the seeds, hence the close up.)
This was a quiz more to share new spices than test my blog-friends and readers! And that is why I am posting the answers so soon. And the red Himalyan super-hot organic chillies will be featured soon in a Maharashtrian recipe here.