Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Bazaar Treasures - Monsoon Special (2)

- By Deepa Krishnan

I promised a second instalment of special monsoon veggies and fruits, so here they are! The bazaars are very exciting these days, and I am enjoying walking around with my camera.

Have you seen all the gorgeous fresh dates in the market yet? They come in two colours, red and golden. I cajoled some vendors into giving me some to taste. Delightful! 
Red kharak / Dates
Yellow kharak; just as sweet as red
I also saw lots of tender bamboo shoots in the market the other day. "Who buys this from you?" I asked the shop keeper. "Manglur-wale", he answered. The Konkanis and Mangaloreans who shop in Matunga for beautiful coral and gold necklaces also shop for keerla (bamboo shoots) which is a rainy season delicacy. The outer layers are cut and the tender white inner portions are soaked in water, usually for 3 days. Each day the water is thrown out and fresh water is added. 

The cleaned shoots are then used in multiple ways. Some of it is kept in salt water for later use during the year, usually cut into discs. Some of it is cooked as dry curry or wet curry and eaten (usually with rice and some kind of dal). Usually tamarind, coconut, red chillies, onion are used in preparing the dish.
Tender Bamboo Shoots / Keerla
In the rainy season, vazhapoo, the banana flower, is back on the tables of South Indian homes. The banana flower is usually left to ripen as it holds the potential for huge bunches of the fruit within. But heavy rains and strong winds sometimes force huge single clusters free from the main plant.

In the earlier days, families that owned abundant land had hordes of banana plants in the courtyard and these fallen fruits were treated as 'poor man's food'. Times have changed and family courtyards in the south now may hold just a few of the plant or if they’ve moved to cities, none. Today, the flower is a delicacy.
Banana Flower / Vazhapoo
There are also lots of fresh water chestnuts in the market these days. I don't eat them, but my friends tell me you can just peel and eat them fresh. They certainly look very green and fresh. I have had them smoked / roasted over a coal fire.
Singhada, water chestnut
There are lots of other things in the market too. Fresh corn is in plentiful supply. 
Fresh maize / corn / bhutta
Tapioca also has made a big appearance, after not being available much in summer. Malayali hearts must the rejoicing at least a little bit :)
Tapioca / Kaappa
And - since it is Shravan - there is also wheatgrass, for the keeping of "vrats". I don't think I'll ever comprehend these religious observances, but the wheatgrass looks fantastic, doesn't it? Does anyone have a recipe for me to try eating this? It is very healthy I am sure.
Wheatgrass / Gehun
Here's the wheat, germinating. I'm guessing this is just regular wheat, the sort that we make rotis with? How do you get it to germinate at home?
Early stage in the growth of wheatgrass
I hope you've enjoyed looking at all the photos :) In case you are wondering where I clicked all these, they are from Bhuleshwar and Matunga. There's so much variety in the market that I want to keep going and discovering more stuff. And there is so much to learn, about different cuisines and cultures. Anyone who wants to join me is welcome, but remember to bring a sturdy shopping bag!

For those who want to see the previous entry with more monsoon treasures: here is the link:


Anonymous said...

i have loved these posts... never seen fresh water chestnuts...

Nishtha Maru said...

I enjoy reading your posts esp. about the markets teeming with local produce.

As regards the wheat grass,the only way to consume it, (as far as I know)is by way of a juice. You have to use only the greens and have the juice early in the morning on an empty stomach.

The Nostalgia Reviver. said...

Awesome topic!! Although I often discuss this one w/ mom, I have never seen this documented (till now i.e.).
A miss worth mentioning is called "Shevla" in Marathi - also known as the dragon stalk yam! Its a wild one, but is often seen in the Dadar markets esp. during monsoons!

rain water harvesting india said...

Great topic, But do you know such fruits possess lots of water to become such juicy and healthy. But now water is disappearing on earth. I use to save water and use that water for plantation purpose. By using a effective way of saving water via rain. Rain harvesting in india is big and a nice process to collect rain in high amount and use it in various way.

Anonymous said...

Great pictures and great blog! For a newcomer into Mumbai its really insightful and educational. Look forward to more posts. Pooja

nisj said...

Its Monsoon Finally in Pune, 2014. And my heart was all dreamy and sleepy, I found your post and am even more dreamy now.

Thanks a Bunch.