Sunday, March 06, 2011

Very Veggie Valentine!

Apologies for falling back on my blogging, It has been a hectic few weeks. I finished the Food writing workshops at Kala Ghoda and then jumped into preparing for Melbourne and doing the final edit of my Mumbai Cookbook (Fingers crossed that should be out by August!

Usually after I do a demo or something, I kind of deflate a bit, its like the adrenalin rush abates and takes my normal energy levels with it. So once I was done with my commitments to Kala Ghoda, the week of the 1-6 Feb, I took up my friend Samar Gupta's invitation to visit his farm the weekend after. Because I had been so busy, I had not gotten my fix of markets for a while and was feeling the lack. I thought a visit to Samar's farm and being near growing things might be just what I needed to rejuvenate me. I was right!

Samar is the owner of Trikaya Agriculture Pvt Ltd a company that grows an astounding variety of exotic products for the Mumbai gourmet market. Trikaya was a large part of my childhood memories because they were the first to introduce exotic vegetables that my mother used in her chinese cooking when I was a child so it was great to meet Samar a few years ago as part of my food writing assignment. We quickly became friends, and I have over the years bugged Samar for ingredients on many occaissions and been the happy, HAPPY recipient of all sorts of exotica!

So off we went on the 13th, the Ghildiyal family, off to the Trikaya farm at Talegaon. I took the kids along because I am always happy to expose them to growing things and this promissed to be the most interesting illuminating educative farm tour EVER! It was a good move as you will see! The expressway made the journey fly away, and soon we were turning into the farm.

Samar was waiting for us, and almost as soon as we had downed a little water, Samar had us try a berry that i had JUST read about on the New Your Times. We followed instructions and popped it in our mouths eating all the pulp off the seed, swirl it around then spitting it out. He then had us suck on a sour Thai bear lime (a seedless lime very high in juice content). We did, puckering upi our faces, expecting sour lime juice. But it wasn't, it was sweet! In fact it tasted like sweet lime!!!

It turned out that we had just eaten The miracle fruit, Synsepalum dulcificum, which is native to West Africa and has been known to Westerners since the 18th century. The cause of the reaction is a protein called miraculin, which binds with the taste buds and acts as a sweetness inducer when it comes in contact with acids. After that everything we ate tasted sweeter; mulburries and even palm heart had a heightened sweetness although not too much, perhaps because it is not too acidic in nature.

And then we were off on a fabulous and fantastic journey for our palates...

I have met people who collect stamps, coins and currency notes, coasters, caps and toys from kinder eggs, I myself collect little withes and miniature collectibles. That day I met a man who collects plants. Did you know that there were more than one kind of Jackfruit? Samar has eight kinds growing on his farm, a dozen types of citrus, herbs (the best I have seen in India), piles of lettuce, baby ones as well, broccoli sprouts, lettuce. For every plant that Samar grows commercially, he grows ten to experimrment. We saw black cherry tomatoes, white carrots, orang cauliflower, tasted al sorts of things he is going to introduce and saw all the hard work and effort that goes into growing and bringing all that beautiful, exotic produce to the table.

And along the way, Samar opened up not just his farm, but also the possibility of keeping my new year resolution to start a little kitchen garden on my balcony. Not only did I come away with a carton full of wonderfull new ingredients to play with, but thanks to Samar, I also brought home three little pots of herbs; sage, rosemary and Thyme and some lovely house plants.

We got home all knackered but the next day was Valentines day and Shekhar seemed to be all abuzz because he got into the kitchen and baked a beautiful carrot cake for me! It was 15 years of our knowing each other that day so his attention made it all so very special. I was touched and went to bed planning to cook him a special dinner the next day. the surprises were not done though, the next morning a huge bunch of flowers was delivered, with a message that I would get a new bunch every week for as long as I wanted. it was a Flower subscription! I spent the rest of the morning arranging flowers all over my house.

That night I cooked a special dish of Spicy mince Stuffed Cannaloni smothered in a Provolone cheese sauce, accompanied by a citrus scented Orange Cauliflower salad, rosemary butter scented Baby Carrots and Sugar snap peas and home made bread made by him.It was truly delicious!

It was a truly rejuvenating two days, and just what I needed before I jumped into the rest of a packed month before I left to get to Australia.

And seeing as i am a big fan of Trikaya Agriculture, I have created a fan page for them, that I hope to update and share infor on. If you are a fan or have questions on hot to use exotic herbs and vegetables do come and join. I can promise it will be interesting cooking!

In other news.

I am honoured to have been awarded the Womens Achievers Award in the field of excellence in the gourmet field by the Young Environmentalists Programme on the eve of Women's Day today. I cannot be there to recieve the award but my darling husband and my amazing mother are going in to collect it on my behalf. Thank you to the Young Environmentalists Program.

I also have a Masala Meander on Gujarat nu Jaman on the 19th March, seats are FILLING FAST so contact 40418888 if you want to coma along!

And I have created a FoodwritersIndia A discussion and mentoring group to inspire and propogate food writing in India. In case anyone is interested in joining or have friends who are, the web address is and the group email is -

Sugar snap peas and Baby carrots !
The Trikaya stall at Crawford Mkt.
Rocket leaves waiting to be packed.
A Thai Guava
All sorts of veges being packed, Samar says
"pick whatever you want" and I am like a kid in a toy store!
Baby lettuce leaves
My little sprout surveying the Lettuce sprouts!
Of we go on a veggie adventure!


Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] said...

Sounds like a wonderful Valentine. Trikaya is like a blessing, it's made so much stuff available that wasn't before!! I'm just waiting for more berries :)

P.S - I never got around to it, so congratulations on all the success!!! You're doing awesome, it certainly is well deserved :)

Chetna said...

Wow Rushina !! Those pics look so good that I want to leave the city and start farming. Kudos to Samar Gupta for having pioneered growing the exotic veggies and making them easily accessible to us.