Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Kitchen Garden

After the last post there were many who were fascinated by the kitchen garden and wanted to know how we managed it.
Frankly speaking we did not take any special effort to grow these.
Some of the things that we have are:
Ginger, Curry leaves , Mint, chillie, tomato, ladies finger, beans (chowli).
We had some excess Ginger so we buried a small piece (about an inch). Within 6 weeks it yielded about half a kilo of Ginger.
And this is what I unearthed

Surgical precision
It was actually growing in our curry leaves pot so I had to remove it w/o damamging the roots of the curry leaves.

Pudina (mint) is something we always have in our garden, and when it grows in excess we have pudina chutney.

The procedure is simple.
Wash and dry the pudina leaves and mix it with grated coconut, small onions and garlic. Wrap it in Banana leaf and heat it over a pan. Once cooled, grind the whole thing in a mixer. Delicious and healthy.

Oh yes then there is a papaya tree growing in a sack !! Not that we are expecting to see papayas hanging there one day, but its nice to see a tree making a humble effort to grow like a normal tree. The tree helped me in giving our son a quick practical lesson that the stem of a papaya tree is hollow, absolutely hollow (something he did not know) You can use it as a pipette or as a snorkel. (simple information like these are always handy)

Vanilla (a creeper) is growing wildly and unless it is pollinated manually it will not yield the pods. So we just allow it to grow like a decorative plant.
Tulsi (Basil) is another medicinal plant that we always have and I add a few leaves while brewing my morning tea.
Holy Basil
Curry leaves is the one which baffles me. It neither grows nor dies. I think it does not like the idea of growing in a pot. (they need lots of soil I suppose)
Once upon a time we had these round chillies which when ripe, was good for tadka.
Home grown chillies
Talking of chillies, the world's spiciest chilli, Bhut Jolokia is grown in Nagaland / Shillong.
It is interesting to note how the spiciness is measured.
It seems Scoville Scale is used to measure the ‘hotness’ of a chilli.

Originally, a solution of the pepper extract is diluted in sugared water until the heat could no longer be recognised by a group of five tasters. It was the degree of dilution needed that designated its place on the Scoville Scale.
For example, a sweet pepper has no capsaicin and therefore no detectable heat even when undiluted, resulting in a Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) rating of zero. The fearsome Bhut Jolokia, on the other hand, had an SHU rating of 1,001,304
No wonder it costs 400 rupees per kilo.
Bhut Jolokia, the world’s spiciest chilli.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Vegetables and the market

The other day I had been to the super market (Reliance Fresh) and bought some vegetables. Real fresh vegetables.
At home wifey asked "what is that I see there, is it Brinjal?"
Me "Yes real fresh ones"
Wifey: “But are they Bt Brinjal?
Me “Bt Brinjal? What is that.”
Wifey “See this is what happens when you don't watch NDTV 24x7 and CNN or for that matter you don't even read the papers
Me “So tell me
Wifey: “Well frankly speaking we are not supposed to eat these as they are genetically altered
Me: “But a brinjal is a brinjal, some may call it aubergine or eggplant but it is still a brinjal
Wifey: “and those tomatoes, are they the ones that shrink after 15 days or did you buy the ones which shrink after 45 days?”
Me “Now which channel said that ?
Wifey “No not channel. You should be net savvy and keep browsing to get the latest developments. Today I read on the net that scientists have blocked the two enzymes, á-mannosidase and â-D-N-acetylhexosaminidase by which the tomatoes remain fresh for almost one and a half month
Me “That long eh? So then what about Reliance Fresh ? Poor guys they will have to close shop. At this rate we won't be able to buy anything from outside. As for tomatoes we will have to wait as my garden fresh tomatoes are still green and its not yet time to pluck it"
green tomato
Wifey: “Yeah, and I did see some bitter gourd in the same pot
Me: “Yep, I too noticed that. May be some seeds found its way into the same pot. Any way I don’t like bitter gourd. Its very bitter.”
Wifey: “These dark green ones are only good for frying. You should get those big light green ones which we get in Kerala. They are hardly bitter and very good for making curry

Wifey: “Why don’t you grow those nice big red tomatoes like the one you photographed in the market ?
Me: “Oh that, . . . . yes I remember how the shop keeper was keeping a hawk’s eye on me, as if I was going to topple his pyramid

Me: “OK, how about growing water melons?
Wifey: “Like the one you grew last year ? You put it a hammock and it got so lazy lazing around that it refused to grow any further. More over water melon is not a vegetable

water melon

Me: “This is all going crazy. I think the best option is to put off the TV, read the paper only when Obama gets his next noble prize and buy vegetables from the subzi mandai (local market) like in the good old days
The market place

Saturday, February 6, 2010


While surfing the net, I came across a photograph showing a class room. This may look like a scene from a period film by Steven Spielberg.
I like that single seat and desk system and the earnest look on the children’s face, all ready to answer the question.
But in Pune there is a school in which the classes are held in the bogie of a train.
The story goes that due to lack of funds, these bogies were bought at an auction held in Bombay and then carted down to Pune where it was given a face lift and converted to class rooms.

Had visited this school some years ago and had clicked some pictures there. As seen above some kids were all ready to pose. One wanted to show off her swinging skills on the make shift swing.

The teaching method too is quite different from the normal school, and hence the school was appropriately named as Gurukul. The land was donated (on a temporary basis) by the Agriculture college so the view from the school too is fabulous.

The physical training class in progress (the movements were that of a mix between dandia and legim)

Nothing like a game of kho kho to hone up your skills on reflex action

The kids have the meal that is provided by the school and I observed that each student washed their own plates after the meal.

Here is a view of the “Drawing Class” that is being held in one of the “Class rooms”

Drawing Class

Later on with contributions, a proper school building was erected but they build it over the train, maybe as a reminder of the humble beginning.

Teachers at the lunch break in one of the bogies:

The desks in the class room too were designed in such a way that they formed a hexagon when assembled together, by which the students sat facing each other for group discussions.

They even had a sign board (like on a railway station) indicating the height from the mean sea level.

Thought for the day on one of the black board: click on the picture to see the complete writing.
Writing on the wall.

Some of the girls were bashful and coy when I clicked them.
By the way, how many of you visit your old school once in a way? If you don’t, please do and see how it rejuvenates you.