THE BOUNTY OF SPRING TIME FESTIVALS!

OMO Sunday Harvest market at Fontainhas…more urban folk are taking to a healthier farming lifestyle! What you see here is a niche gauti (organically farmed) market courtesy former Saachi & Saachi boss Shanta Kumar. Take your pick… feast your eyes on seductive peppers, visually enriching golden turmeric, real cauliflower, ginger, strawberries to live for. Bangalore-based Shanta Kumar is now marketing the good news of organic farming. What we put in our mouth makes a mega difference to the future of all life on earth! Be there 4 pm onwards next on Sunday coming up, see you there!

BY TARA NARAYAN

Eating is Fun / Eating is Yuck! – A variety food column

WELL, I don’t think it’s going to get any colder in Goa, January is the coldest month now in Goa given its tropical climate. Once upon a time November used to be my favourite month but now it’s January for its cool ambience. I’m in love with a comfortable chilling factor and sleeping snuggled in a soft Rajasthani razai or softer doha. It’s January going on February and the springtime festivals are in the air with early copperheads blooming away gloriously yellow here and there in town.
Makara Sankaranti is here, Lohri, Pongal…Vasant Panchami come February, Mahashivratri and Holi come March as some real heat catches up to replace cold and cool. In the meantime in the northern cultures, at least as far as I know, it’s time to make gobi-shalgam pickle, spiced up gajar kanji and halva, alu-mutter sabzi, sizzling mooli paratha laced with desi ghee. In Mumbai the Gujarati community must be feasting on Surti ponk and oondhiyu must be there on every Guju thali meal deal in traditional cuisine restaurants/eateries like my favourite at Kalbadevi — Thaker Bhojanalay. I reckon there must be over a dozen eateries specialising exclusively in Gujarati cuisine across Mumbai and the ones downmarket Kalabadevi/Crawford Market and upmarket Tardeo are the best!
In homes for Sankranti one would see busy housewives making saath dana ni kichadi and purple aubergine-potato sabzi laced with green spring greens…the southern homes have pongal savoury and sweet; peppery pongal goes with the scrumptious fresh coconut redolent aviyal — but pongal hails from Tamilnadu, aviyal from Kerala, it’s a combo to live for.
Truly, our traditional cuisines in state after state are so rich in their seasonal play of local flavours and at this time of the year I wish I was in Mumbai that was Bombay just to eat to live! Which reminds me my acidic-tongued friend living up a hill in Panaji called to pick my brains and to ask if I was finally living my dream life? Huh, more like a nightmare life actually, I responded, wondering what she wanted. What’s funny if it’s a dream life there’re any number of folk willing to join you on your band wagon, nobody wants to join you atop a more interesting nightmare band wagon! Yeh hi hai zindagi meri jaan and all that.
I wish anew that the two people I loved enduringly were still alive just for my comfort levels…listening to their voice and humour always guaranteed me a good laugh. As it is said laughter is the real best medicine of life and I always say as long as you can still laugh (and cry) you may be alive and kicking (not rancid pickle with goodbye cruel world catching up with you). Must say my upper crust friend always makes me think along agonizing, torturous lines. What she wanted was for me to accompany her to the Lokotsav on at the Kala Academy complex to help her shop for handloom linen, her ultimate temptation line, “I’ll pick you up in my car (a real chauffeur-driven black limousine) and treat you to whatever you want to eat out at the khau galli there!”
She doesn’t know these days I’m engaged with the charms of intermittent fasting. I went with her although I’m less and less into shopping nowadays; women tend to clutter up their lives with too many material comforts like they’re going to live for the next seven janam (whatever that means). These days I have a lot of off-loading to do and as usual the friend made me think that while other folk are doing exciting things I’m only writing about it and how boring that makes my life.
AND I’ve got something exciting to write about this week, a new find! Don’t know about you but that’s how high I feel when I discover yet another organic fruit and vegetable market and this one right in Panaji. There I was moon mooning down heritage district Fontainhas when some posters and a lovely house drew my attention — this is the OMO boutique (flush next to General Post office lane). I parked my Blue Angel and walked in to discover a most interesting boutique with lots of wearable attire and ethnic/eco-friendly jewelry and other curiosities. General Manager Shankar here tells me it belongs to Arti Shanta Kumar.
Later I learned she’s an entrepreneur par excellence and enjoys the reputation of being a modern day mix-and-match designer wear queen based in Bandra, Mumbai. I also learned they have a Sunday evening 4 pm organic vegetable and fruit market laid out in the lovely heritage house courtyard. The OMO Sunday Harvest market is the baby of Shanta Kumar. It’s amusing to note how many advertising corporate heads who’ve lived their high flying lifestyles in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai want to retire into the peaceful farmhouse lifestyle of doing organic farming!
Arti was not around but hubby Shanta Kumar (late of Saachi & Saachi) was there and from the sound of it he’s a much mellowed ad man whose new passion is organic farming on a farm in Bangalore…but every Sunday they get their farm produce, and produce from other farmers around, out to their Goa outlet at Fontainhas to retail. So there I was last Sunday in the charming courtyard with golden champa trees (one yellow gold blooms, one white gold blooms), curry leaf tree, passion fruit vine and generally speaking a green bower/oasis. Here were laid out a fresh colourful array of vegetables and fruit for sale, all claiming organic status.
I filled up my basket with a pudi of ginger (good ginger is hard to find), bunch of palak, spring onions, normal onions, baby beets, strawberry pack…(sigh)…there was so much so desirable but who would cook it all for me?! And how much can I eat if I’m trying not to look at food these days? But I can look at veggies to get a high. The cauliflower, purple cabbage, green and yellow zucchini, vividly colourful sweet peppers, khol khol, broccoli, cabbage, bottle gourd and so much more. Amongst the greens a Chinese spinach, avocados, hey…fresh golden turmeric. Bananas, passion fruit, pomegranates, apples, kinoo oranges.
There’s a little cafeteria here specialising in various coffees, buy the rustic sourdough/black charcoal bread loaves of bread if you wish, there’s a 1st Bites cereal for babies which I didn’t pay much attention to although I’m wondering if it would be equally good for seniors! Organic labels are always a notch more expensive of course but I don’t mind. If more folk engaged in organic farming as a hobby, the prices would come down and organic would become today’s normal…no???
There was no time to chat too much with Shanta Kumar because I was in a hurry to buzz off to the Lokotsav. But I do wish Shanta Kumar and Arti well with their organic food venture and wish everything in Goa too would go organic — vegetables, fruit, spices, herbs, flowers. It’s the only way to restore dignity and thriving homeostatis to Mother Earth so that we may reap fighting fit health anew. Make the connections ASAP!
WHAT we put in our mouth is crucial to health — mind and body, heart and soul. Our mega food and pharmaceutical industry must be cut down to size so that they no longer bring us down on our knees with the slew of degenerative diseases we see all around us today. We must learn to live one of these days to be alive and kicking and return to the green earth’s bounty of original pleasures.

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