SUMMER FOOD!

A week of this and that… (l figs are forever, duck farming coming up in Goa, can’t find good ginger for love or for money, sorry, I did find excellent organic ginger at OMO Happy Buddha bazaar at Fontainhas Panjim

BY TARA NARAYAN

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

FUNNY, Gudi Padwa, Ugadi and other springtime festivals are perceived to be springtime festivals but where is springtime this year? Am I imagining it or is springtime increasingly becoming summertime jhat phat? Steaming away in the hot days of April these days my thoughts wander towards summer foods. My mad rigmarole of being perennially on a weight loss mission/lifestyle goes something like this… along hypocritical and not so hypocritical lines!
Summertime is the best time to exercise some fasting rules nah? Like no snacking in between meals, sticking to two meals a day (if nothing is wrong with body beautiful, six or eight small meals a day doesn’t cut any ice with me, no animal of the animal kingdom eats like we do)…so it’s one cooked meal and one more or less uncooked meal for me. Some more of all this…drink more water, like I’m a whale at sea! Eat less, how much less can I eat (it’s true, my portions are more than the desired hand full).
My favourite wishful thinking: Eat raw more often than cooked or cooked to death! And shun industrial fats in fryums and packaged foods. Also give up dairy products including milk and tea. No other animal of the animal kingdom drinks hot, hot tea or another animal’s milk except the human animal…
Those whom the gods love they first drive mad, you understand? Okay no more. Ah yes, summertime is the time to return to making comfort food at home — dahi-bhat, dahivada, kichdi-kaddi, dal-dhokli, khata dhokla (not with refined chana dal besan though but by soaking chana dal overnight, grinding it the next morning and letting it ferment before seasoning it and steaming)…also, think salads and more salads, soups and more soups — for dinner. Eat nothing before noon, or after 5 pm or at least 7 pm. Don’t laugh, some of it I do most days, some days I slip up with a chaat item number here or there while doing my routine evening shopping rounds in Panaji town.
WHICH reminds me that chaat outlets are on the increase in Panaji and I like it. Chaat Street has always been a favourite, but now I have Ashokabhai to go to, he’s a genial Sindhi fellow who parks himself with a cart laden with chaat ingredients down the Taleigao bypass road (close to Café Ave Maria)…5 pm onwards one may find pani puri, papri-chaat, dahi papri-chaat, dahivada, etc, here. Sit on the bucket seats savouring your chaat and enjoying the view of the dying fields of Taleigao across the road, catch up with the life and times of Ashokbhai. Then there’s another new Chaat Junction (Flavours of India) at Carazalen where a samosa chaat is agreeable if the samosa a little too spicy and ginger redolent tea.
Don’t ask me why I prefer chaat outlets more than patisserie outlets, which too are opening up like a rupee a dozen or something like that…nothing less than 99 to be found these days. If I see a menu priced to the last nine as in99 or 199 I prefer to walk out. TALKING of ginger tea, can anyone tell me why almost all the ginger I’ve been buying for some time be it at the Panaji market or small grocers come so rotten? The juice they offer up is greyish thin and when you look at it there is this greyish ring or tinge or smudge lurking within. No sharp taste, no flavour and yet140 kg ginger! Some arrogant upmarket vendor will snap if you raise a question and tell you to buy or go, “Mera adrak sabse best hai, gauti hai, bahut badiya!” I always get intimidated by Goan vendors because of my weak Konkani but with the Hindi-speaking ones I’m fine. With one vendor I end up buying his rotten inside ginger and chucking it at home in disgust.
Hey, I keep looking for good ginger because I use lots of it, grating it into my first morning cup of tea, in egg omelette and everything else. But once I see the grey ring within I know it is no good and don’t buy or buy wishfully but chuck later (vendors refuse to let you break a piece to check so one has to do it surreptitiously).
(Sigh) I’ve taken to placing an order with the OMO Happy Buddha organic farm outlet at Fontainhas for ginger which is agreeable — fibrous but this is real ginger with zing, aromatic flavour, creamy yellow all through within. No grey rings! All the stuff at OMO is from the Bengaluru-based Happy Buddha club of farmers. Don’t Goa’s organic farms grow ginger?
MY Sunday afternoon trips out to the OMO outlet make for happy discoveries! Last time around they had these intriguing out size figs which looked somewhat nondescript, leathery dark, most uninviting. Nobody showed interest even after Arti here cut open one for tasting purposes, I tasted and found it more veggie than fruit, firm and mildly sweet, a mass of softly crunchy dark blackish seeds within.
Must find out more about figs — there are something like 700 named varieties of figs and what we see commonly are black mission or brown turkey or sierra or calimyrna (green variety, pink candy floss pink within) or kadota figs…maybe the ones at the OMO outlet were Turkish figs with their mildly sweet flavour and chewy texture. Someone’s growing a Turkish fig tree somewhere! Turkey is famous for its figs and if you eat a soaked fig daily you will never ever suffer from anaemia or constipation or impotence!
SOME time ago I met the vivacious Jacqueline Fernandes who’s got a `What the Duck!’ farm, doing free-ranging ducks for eggs and meat. Jacqui is biophysicist turned social health developer and constantly thinking of empowering community living. Since Goa loves its meats and good duck is hard to come by, she said, she decided to start a duck farm investing in natural growth promoters and feeds for quality duck eggs and meat.
Says duck meat (white Pekin) is flavourful and nutritious in protein and iron values, “excellent source of selenium and zinc for good cellular metabolism.” Perfect meat for health-conscious eating. As for duck eggs (Khaki Campbell) they stay fresher longer due to thicker shell and eggs have more omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, other vits and mins, “the larger yolk has more healthy fat and comparatively only a little more cholesterol.”
Well, if you’re a duck fan for whatever reason you might want to look into this. Both Jacqueline Fernandes and Sadanand Gawade are engaged in this sustainable duck rearing project. Find more details at Jacqueline.breitinger@gmail.com

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