Juhu Farmer’s Market…offers fresh veggies and fruit from farms on the outskirts of Mumbai like Pune and Nasik, these are travelling markets and very welcome by people for the produce is fresh, very often organically cultivated and available at marginally lower prices.

By Tara Narayan

DURING a recent visit Mumbai and while touring the local wet markets it came home to me that in the outskirts of Mumbai farming is a craze and suburban farmer’s market are sprouting up here, there, and becoming very popular. For example, this time around while walking down the winding Juhu lane one Tuesday morning, I discovered a gully near the post office this farmer’s market and was quite amazed that one could find some of the freshest veggies and fruit here.

That’s Juhu resident Sandhya Ullal who does her weekly shopping at the farmer’s market and finds it very agreeable and welcome. She was the source of all my information!

My friend Sandhya Ullal who shops here regularly enlightened me that this local farmer’s market takes place every Tuesday in Juhu and travels elsewhere on other days to say the nearby Andheri Link Road or Lokhandwala complex and local residents know on what day it takes place so that they may visit and do their weekly shopping, she says, “The prices are less or more or less the same compared to the usual local market place, but this farm produce here at the weekly farmer’s market is definitely fresher … I’m very happy shopping here because it is close to my home!”
For more information on local farmer’s market she advised me to talk to vice-president Geeta Kadam of the NGO Let’s Rise Up Foundation, who is promoting and co-ordinating these farmers’ markets in the distant Western suburbs of Mumbai…in Juhu every Tuesday at the same tucked-away residential gully one may shop for vegetables, fruit and other things. While some of the produce is organically grown, not all of it is…and one of the farmer’s representative here showed me big fat glossy strawberries not organic (strawberries have high residual pesticides and fungicides) and the smaller imperfect strawberries which were organically cultivated and these were heady with the sweetness and aroma of real strawberries, more expensive of course.
I bought some mango ginger and fresh turmeric, some garlic greens and magenta sweet potato and went home thinking I would just steam cook the sweet potatoes and have them for lunch sprinkled with a bit of chaat masala and lemon juice! I think it is a perfectly good idea to serve boiled potato or tapioca slices tossed in some chaat masala and say fresh chopped green coriander or parsley…serve them as hor d’ourves. Goa has a several small farms and the happiest people are farmers as I may have observed before here! Unfortunately, public transportation is bad and private transport at killer rates, so it is not viable to drop by at these farms to buy fresh produce – it would be ideal if there were a collective farmer’s market at one of the public gardens (with CCP permission of course) every Saturday or Sunday morning so that not only would the farms get customers but consumers eat fresher, more nutritive and local farm produce…I wish some NGO would organize regular farmer’s markets in capital city Panaji! Somehow nobody has been able to swing this on a regular day and date.
While in Mumbai now there are several regular farmer’s markets, but then again Mumbaikars have become very health-conscious what with the film industry based here. Every woman wants to copy a film star’s diet – maybe just diced fresh pineapple for breakfast. Nowadays my sister No.2 in Mumbai and a dear friend is obsessed by something called a Buddha’s bowl of red or black cooked rice, tossed in diced cucumber, tomato, mushroom, daikon radish or the baby red ones, microgreens, a fruit, sunflower/pumpkin/sesame seeds, etc, and all of it flavoured with tangy tamarind, mushroom or wasabi or some sauce to make the whole Buddha’s bowl come alive with the goodness of vital nutrients.

AT THE INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR EXHIBITION OF FURNITURE….from Spain, Malaysia, India. Furniture, furnishings, objet d’art, marbled garden décor pieces, fountains spouting mist and much else!

These days I’m hearing a lot about getting my vitamin 12 in greens, also fresh enzymes, the ACE vitamins or vitamins A, C and E…and then again there’s much talk about the importance of the vitamin B complex vitamins. A Buddha’s bowl would come alive with all this and also vital fresh enzymes in sprouts, greens, and microgreens which many folk are growing in pots packed with coco peat.

thai ayurveda…all kinds of pain balms and oils to soothe itches, pains, allergies and generally soothing and welcome! (right) At the Wangpitak stall Thai massage therapist Theerachai P treating a visitor to a massage! There were sampls of several kinds of medicinal gingers and other herbals on display and they attracted much interest.

(Sigh) On a bad day in Goa I think I could very happily go back to live in Mumbai that was Bombay! The flip side is in Bombay the pavements are in a sorry stumbling prone mess and more so in the suburbs, it’s becoming harder and harder to breathe in the traffic jams and I’m not surprised so many wealthy Mumbaikars and Delhites dream of owning a holiday home in Goa to run away to…Goa is still a happiness destination above all.
Over and over again in Goa I only wish for better public-friendly infrastructure and especially better public-friendly roadways and quick, safe, economical public transportation to move from capital city to Vasco da Gama or Margao or Ponda and even Belgaum! It’s kind of difficult to move in a jiffy in Goa without your own car and preferably a smart driver who knows his routes (not to cheat but to get you to your destination quickest).
An occasional holiday in Mumbai certainly puts a lot of vim and vigour and things into perspective for me.


DRY FRUIT FROM AFGHANISTAN …a big temptation but these goods travel from exhibition to exhibition during the year and are not necessarily fresh, check before buying, especially the walnuts! Prices are on the higher side starting at Rs2,000 to Rs4,000 per kg plus, plus. But the variety of almonds are tempting as are the figs!

IT WAS primarily a furniture fair, interiors and exteriors, on at the Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee In-door Stadium, recently, but it promoted itself as a consumer fair with all kinds of temptations from Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia and Spain. A friend of mine was anxious to shop for some gardening art decorations and both of us went – me to buy some of the Afghanistan dry fruit if it was fresh and reasonably priced.
Such fairs are an eye-opener but sorry to say a lot of faux furniture mixed with some desirable furniture and I especially fell for the lounge stretch chairs Made in Spain, there were Pune-made ones of similar design at a quarter of the price but did not have the comfort values of the imported sofa set chairs – just the lounge chair alone was priced at Rs1.5 lakh plus, plus. Plus, I thought the digital buttons to activate the chair to move up and down so that may actually nap in them were a bit dicey, what if they stop working, who’ll fix them here in Goa? The older models of this maha comfy lounge chairs in suade or some other soft leather had more agreeable levers if I remember right.
Anyway, we moved on and the friend bought a few things. I bought a packet of mixed dry fruit from the first Afghanistan dry fruit outlet for Rs400 and found out the prices were actually more than market prices, with badam at Rs2,000 Rs7,000 kg but then again there are so many varieties of almonds – from the most expensive khagazi badam to other kinds rich, sweet and naturally organic. I asked about walnuts but at Rs2,500 kg they were not worth and I suddenly realized that these Delhi Afghani traders travel from one consumer fair to another during the season and perhaps the walnuts were actually a bit dated with a minute creature crawling out of them if you looked carefully!
They had a whole host of berries too like cranberries, mulberries, strawberries, raisins are not berries strictly speaking…most are either sugar washed or sugar coated. Good thing I didn’t get carried away and bought too much like I tended to do in better times! They also had pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds but I prefer to get mine from a friend who offers them at a friendlier price, a tablespoon of seeds make a lot of dishes come alive with flavour and nutrient values.
If you’re asking me the only temptations at these heavily advertised consumer fairs is the Kerala banana wafers (which are thin and fried in coconut oil) and if you have a sweet tooth, the Kerala halva which are despite their pineapple, almond, caju, banana, date flavors are more or less the same, I have a very soft corner for them. And the farsan from Gujarat which is always very interesting with its variety of fryums — nowadays one may even find crunchy pani puri made of sabudana. These fryums can make a meal come alive as side helpings although of course they are fryums and the guy here said you may air-fry them for more virtuous values!
The other allurement for me is the digestives stall which offers these range of salty, tangy, tart tidbits of goli, churan, nuggets and what not…of imli, green mango, kokum, etc. These are real delights and perennial buys…hinga goli, anar goli, pudina goli and tart green mango seasoned shreds being my favourite buys. I have taken to flavouring my dals and salads with a crush of these mint goli judiciously, no need to add any other masala and no salt either. The mint goli are wonderfully flavorful and I love them, they’re very handy and more or less all-purpose.
I must say – the hair clips and combs from Korea are superlative good as are the pain balms of Thailand pharmacies, alas, I didn’t buy any but wish I had! Take a look at the foto essay alongside here and you’ll get an idea. Such consumer fairs are fun but don’t ever thing they’re less expensive! Of course if you have money to burn, there’s lots to buy good, bad and ugly…nobody gives receipts, no GST!

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