When my friend Vindhya planted her vegetable garden in Vancouver earlier this year, she couldn’t have known that, come mid- summer, nestled among the thriving Solanaceae - tomatoes, chilli peppers, and eggplants – another member of the family, Solanum nigrum- had invited itself to the party, and was popping up all over the plot.
Commonly known as black nightshade, there’s a good deal of confusion regarding the edibility and potential toxicity of this, and related plants. (If in doubt, weed it out! Please read and verify, before eating that weed! )
Many gardeners here might have just pulled the interlopers up without a second thought. Vindhya, on the other hand, was delighted to recognise the weed as a popular variety of potherb that she is very familiar with from gardens and hedgerows in Coorg, where, it is known as kaaké thopp (crow leaves). I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s because of the deep purple-black shade of the ripe fruit that’s reminiscent of the sheen on a crow’s feathers.
Another year , another Kail Podh! Some of us can’t help but indulge in a bit of boaring nostalgia for the” good old days”, when hunting for the pot was a way of life. If you can barely suppress that gleam in your eye when you hear about plump wild boar rooting about in the fields with brazen abandon, you’ll know what I mean. Now that’s fair game, to be sure, but only for the camera!
Ah, for a bit(e) of a boar!
What’s on the menu this year? I’m skipping the pandi curry, and going with a simple barbecued pork recipe. How simple? Well, with just two main seasonings, not counting the salt, I’d say it doesn’t get much simpler than this.
With our changing lifestyles, our diets have evolved too, and, many favourites from a generation or two ago no longer appear at the table as casually as they once did.
For years we’ve been hearing that, in the interests of a healthy diet, we should drop the eggs, cut back on the coconut, and only dabble with ghee. Well, things have come full circle, and these days we’re being told that eggs are not so bad after all, ghee is actually good for you, and darned if coconut isn’t being touted as the new wonder food! (All in moderation, of course.)
Back in a less complicated time, you’d take these three unfairly demonized foods – coconut, eggs and ghee, and, without batting an eyelid, combine them in one simple dish to make something like thengé-motté pajji.
It seems like summer arrived long before the official date of 21st June this year. Temperatures have routinely been reported as “record-setting”, “record-breaking”, or “record-tying”. This time, three years ago, we were setting quite different records for June!
In uncharacteristic fashion for Vancouver, there have been too few showers to give us any respite from the heat. In equally uncharacteristic fashion, I have been a bit reluctant to spend much time in the kitchen, partly because it’s so warm, and, mainly because it’s so gorgeous outside. Menus have been centered around cool salads, lots of summer fruit, and an old Indian favourite that’s guaranteed to appeal to the most jaded of appetites – curd rice. Or, as it is most aptly named in Kodava Thakk, mor kuul.