sprouting and growing fenugreek (methi)

methi or fenugreek | conifères & feuillus

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.  -Hippocrates

Fenugreek, known as methi in Hindi, is an important flavouring ingredient in Indian cuisine. It’s used as a herb (fresh leaves), spice (seeds or dried leaves), and vegetable (sprouts). It has a very distinctive, slightly bitter taste (acquired if you ask me) and is best known for its therapeutic properties. I grew up hearing all about its medicinal and nutritional benefits and now, digging around on the internet, I see that my parents knew well. methi or fenugreek | conifères & feuillus

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the plague of 1896 & mango pickles

Gujarati mango pickles | conifères & feuillus

The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

A bubonic plague pandemic came to India in 1896 via rats on cargo ships from China. Over the next thirty years, India would lose 12.5 million people to this disease. Initially, it was confined to port cities but eventually, it spread to rural regions of the country as well. [1]

By the time the pandemic reached my ancestral village in Gujarat, my paternal grandfather was but a newborn. This meant that he had minimal resistance and the least possibility of survival if infected. But parents will do whatever possible to ensure the safety of  their children and so, as difficult as it may have been, arrangements were made by my great-grandparents to have him taken away to live temporarily with relatives living further away until the threat would pass. But things didn’t turn out quite as planned and what was meant to be temporary became permanent. Soon after he was taken away, his entire family fell victim to this deadly disease.

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khichdi & kadhi, gujarati peasant food

gujarati comfort food, khichdi & kadhi | conifères & feuillus

Every peasant cuisine has incredible ingenious tricks for getting a lot of nutrition out of a small amount of ingredients.  –Michael Pollan

A simple dish consisting of rice and lentils, khichdi is deeply rooted in the history of the Indian subcontinent. Originally, a peasant food of rural India, it has since been reincarnated into elaborate dishes fit for royalty. Present day, amongst Indians, it holds the title as both the ultimate comfort food and a perfect plant-based source of protein. Throughout India, it is one of the first foods given to babies and long before the word “detox” became a thing here in the West, it has been Ayurveda’s answer to detoxification.

Each region of India has its own version of khichdi. In my birth province of Gujarat, it remains much like the original peasant dish and consists of no more than rice, split mung dal,  a pinch of turmeric and a dallop of ghee and is always served with kadhi, a spiced, soup-like yogurt curry.gujarati peasant food, khichdi & kadhi | conifères & feuillus
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