mostly about food and cooking, but also the stories about the Bread and the Butterflies!

Posts Tagged ‘urban foraging’

Bitter Lime Pickle

In From the Garden, on the side, Pickles, south Indian, Under 30 min!, Vegetarian on December 2, 2017 at 8:25 pm

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find. Even in an extremely urbanised city like Delhi, with hardly any real wilderness left, you will be pleasantly surprised how nature escapes the boundaries we set for her. Plants like bathua (lamb’s quarters) and kulfa (purslane) are common enough. I even found a large patch of sotchal (common mallow) growing wild in Purana Qila one time.

Last year K, my house help, put before me a bag of citrus growing on an unoccupied plot in her colony that no one wanted and was only attracting monkeys and their destructive antics. It looked a lot like our santara, the regular Indian orange; the peel and sections were on point. But there was nothing orange-y about their juice. The juice was sour and bitter, in equal measure. Loathe to see beautiful fruit laid waste she brought me a few confident that I would be able to make something of them.

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Pumpkin shoots with eggplant – al kanjji te wangun

In Kashmiri, Vegetables, Vegetarian on May 8, 2013 at 5:36 pm

As we move to bigger urban centers, and into smaller and smaller lots and apartments, we are removed more and more from the food we eat, from the act of growing our own food.  Much of what was once common in every home garden is gradually getting lost, at least to us city folk.  My parents maintain a small garden patch in their urban lot and even in that tiny space my mom forages for amaranth.  Yes, forage; they don’t grow it from seed, it just volunteers!  When we were younger and had a large kitchen garden inside the IITD campus,  kulfa (purslane) was another green found growing wild.

My father and his brothers are avid gardeners.  Even in the constraints of their urban homes, you will find them pottering around.  My uncle, in Pune, gardens out of huge planters on his rooftop growing runner beans, and Kashmiri favourites haak, sotchal (common mallow), and monjji (kohl rabi).  I have been very lucky, despite an urban upbringing, to have grown up in a home with a garden, and knowing a little about how food makes it to the table.  In my own typical city house I grow herbs in pots, I have a curry leaf tree and a lime tree, and grape vines that climb up the pergola on my first floor terrace.

Many wild greens used to be part of a regular Kashmiri diet – abuj, vopal haak, vasta haak, hund, to name just a few.  Today, I would be hard pressed to even identify them.

urban foraging: wild mallow
Sotchal (common mallow), on the left, foreground. Photo credit: Kritika Walia

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