The Return of the Spinach (Palak)

Update for week ended 14 Sep 2012

Monsoons in India usually bring about a change in diets. This is considered the season to also “cool” the digestive system almost like the cooling of the parched earth after that long Indian Summer.And the diets get softer, lighter and at times vegetarian. It is also the season that has the maximum “fasts”, but that part I have already covered before in my post on Fasting – the Hindu Way in April 2011. And the greens of spinach and amaranth are usually shunned for the browns of dried pulses and dried pulsed pulses. But there are some greens that still find pride of place on many tables on these rainy, muggy days. And one of them is the drumstick tree leaf. These are compound leaves and get a fresh lease of life in the rains. The tender ones are carefully picked out of the branch-lets and mixed into dals or added to a vegetable or in some cases even mixed with rice batter to make thick but crispy rice pancakes (adais). And then the rains flood the marshes and this is very conducive for marsh plants like the colocasia (arbi in Hindi), and the leaves grow large like elephant ears (incidentally this is another name for this plant) and these large leaves find their way into homes of the Western coastal people. So Keralites cut them into long strips and tie them into bundles to toss them into a boiling pot of tangy tamarind broth, while the Konkan coast people boil the leaves, mash them up with split gram (chana dal) and toss a few spices, a handful of peanuts and a generous dose of tamarind juice. And further north, the Gujaratis make a savoury snack of this leaf, smothered with gramflour, rolled up like a swissroll and steamed, before being sliced and served up with tea. The season is also one that gets therapeutic, so dillweed get served up with light ridge gourd or the humble brinjal. The aromatic herb not only rekindles an appetite, but also soothes a disturbed tummy.

The D Street Boyz had a monsoon week, as they saw green every day. So if it was light and sprinkly till mid-week, things got darker towards the end of the week, and the favourite SENSEX got greener and greener as it scaled adult heights of over 18000….. to end the week at a 14 month high of 18464.

And maybe this is premonition, because when I got home after work on Monday last, i was surprised to be greeted by a casserole bowl full of Spinach and Cottage Cheese Curry (Palak Paneer) and  I welcomed the spinach back on the table after a long absence this monsoon. So maybe I did in some way foresee the future of the week on D Street, perhaps!!

So take care this weekend, and enjoy the next week with greens that will welcome the Elephant God in many homes and lanes and streets. And incidentally there are leaves that flavour the food of the God – the turmeric leaf on which a sweet dumpling is steamed. Enjoy some of them for me too!



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