Thursday, March 15, 2018

How to celebrate #SubziTarkariDin annually every 31 March!

From a simple onion smashed with salt to eat with a paratha, to cool crunchy cachumber, tangy raitas, quickly stir fried greens, elaborate gravies and more, vegetables find their place at every meal everyday in India. 

Subzi/Subji/Shaak/Tarkari/Xaak whatever name we might know them by, all over India vegetables hold pride of place on the Thali alongside dal, rice and roti. Vegetables bring vital variety, flavour, texture and colour to our meals. they also nutritionally enhance our diets with essential fibre, micro nutrients, essential minerals and more.

Vegetables play an intrinsic role in our food, but seldom get their due. And more so in recent years. Many factors, including the growth of supermarkets and convenience stores, have led to a monumental decrease in the variety of vegetables and dishes made with them that we consume. We also tend to eat what is packaged up for us - cauliflowers without the green parts, Mooli without the leaves and more.

Indian dietetics set down eons ago, said how we ate, what we ate, when we ate it, all had a purpose. Eating local and seasonal was a large factor of the overall belief, because it was beneficial to the individual and the ecosystem. Regional Indian diets traditionally showcased a wide variety of vegetables that were consumed round the year in various ways. And we also made the most of what we had access to. Most community cuisines have recipes that use up vegetable stems, leaves, peels and other bits, dry, pickle and preserve surplus produce because traditionally cuisines used up as much as they could, making the most of the flavour and nutrition in all parts of the plant. That is why terms like 'food waste' and root to tip did not exist. With Subzi Tarkari Day, let us rediscover together the traditional wisdom we have in Indian Cuisine.  

On #SubziTarkariDin I would like to invite you to to celebrate the diversity of fresh produce we have, in all its varied glory by shopping locally, cooking and eating seasonally and talking about everything vegetables. Here are some ideas to celebrate.

Support the local food producer - #SelfieWithSubziwalle
Ditch the supermarket and visit your local vegetable market (take your kids along!), farmers market or subziwala. Buying directly from the farmer or subziwali/a ensures they get the maximum earnings from the labour they put into growing and bringing you your vegetables rather the more circuitous less beneficial route of middlemen and supermarkets. 

In fact most of us have a favourite subziwali/a. The ones we swear by, who bring us the best produce at the best prices. And the one we have a bit of a gossip with as we haggle over vegetables. On your next visit, why not take a selfie with your favourite Subziwali/a and share their story with #SelfieWithSubziwalle (so men and women can be showcased). I know I would love to hear it, wouldn't you? 

Eat Local, Seasonal and Boring and Ugly! 
The beauty of shopping at local markets is you find a lot more variety than you would at supermarkets. Many local vegetables deteriorate quickly so supermarkets do not stock them. Markets do. They also allow you to explore the sheer variety of local and seasonal vegetables we cook and eat in India. Discover lesser known vegetables we don’t eat any more, cook them and share information on them. And please buy the boring and the ugly vegetables. Many people detest certain vegetables. doodhi, turai, tinda are boring, kaddu is unappetizing, ugly karela is bitter and root vegetables like yam are not to be considered...  But all of these and more have fantastic potential that is missed purely because we might be cooking them wrong, so buy them, try them, discover them!

Document and Share varieties and Recipes
I remember I used to hate the Gujarati Doodhi (lauki) Chana nu shaak - a bland, texture-less perpetration in my home until I tried a Tamilian Brahmin version redolent with chilli, pepper and coconut as a friends house. The great thing about local vegetables is that most of them are cooked across community cuisines in different ways. So whether it is the simple potato cooked in a thousand ways, vegetable and meat combinations like a Saag Gosht (Sadia Dehli's book has a variety of dishes in which meat is cooked with vegetables), or vegetable and dal combinations like palak /lauki wali dal or elaborate vegetable preparations like Sarson Saag, Undhiyu or Sai Bhajji, chances are there is a fab recipe that will please your palate with every vegetable, just look around!

Discover how different vegetables are cooked by;
Discussing vegetables on your Facebook and Whassap food groups.
Pull out and share family recipes, document and share them.
Love a vegetable? Or hate? Learn to make vegetables in new ways by learning recipes from other cuisines of India through cookbooks and the internet.
Can’t or don’t want to cook? Share pictures, videos, stories and favourite memories of subzi/vegetables seen/eaten at homes or local food outlets.

Avoid Food Waste, Eat Root to Tip
Buy whole vegetables, leaves roots and all. (Supermarkets often denude vegetables of leaves and stalk. Bur often stalks and leaves have a lot more nutrition and flavour.) Use the whole vegetable in different ways. Stalks of the cauliflower, leaves of the radish, dig up family recipes and old cookbooks to see how our elders traditionally used all parts of vegetables.
Reduce and recycle food waste, fruit and vegetable peels, seeds, roots, stems of leafy vegetables often have more nutrients and flavour than the fruit of veg itself. And they can all be used in innovative ways. Find out how from traditional family cooks. 

If you are in the food industry here are some ideas for ways to celebrate #SubziTarkariDin

Instagramers- markets and vegetables make great subjects, go wild with beautiful vegetable pictures! Go foraging with your phone camera and share pictures with #SubziTarkariDin on Instagram and Instastories.
Video Bloggers - Local market trips, traditional recipes, ways to cook new dishes with local ingredients, recipes that use up all parts f a plant, make best of veggie waste will all make great video content.
Food Bloggers - this is a fantastic way to find new ideas to write about; you could do Listicles of local vegetables or vegetables cooked in your community cuisine. or blog unusual family recipes, regional recipes for cooking root to tip, or even just focus on one vegetable you love (or hate!). All these offer ideas for blogposts/articles with unique content. Go blog and write! And share links with us using hashtag #SubziTarkariDin
Chefs, restaurants and/or food outlets - Consider a #SubziTarkariDin special by making and serving unusual vegetables, ugly vegetables, create root to tip menus, tell interesting stories for patrons to share on their social media platforms.

Or forget everything I have said and find a new way to do something all on your own! 
However, you choose to celebrate, please use #SubziTarkariDin when sharing updates on social media. Have a delicious #SubziTarkariDin.


Utpal Khot said...

Awesome. Lets do this. I would have also loved #selfiewithsabziwala as one of my hard working local produce guy will be left out since this says only Sabziwali 😊


Unknown said...

Superb, waiting to celebrate this day too as we Celebrated the earlier ones !!

Unknown said...

This sounds like amazing "thanks giving" to the age old , less publicised Sabziwala/i.
The teenagers these days are given freedom to eat whatever they feel like! I think ours was the last generation which was force fed the vegetables in all forms!
We are fond of vegetable pickles as well.
I remember , a simple vegetable like peas has taught me so many lessons in life.
After our school home work was over my mom would make us sit around a small tub of peas and we were expected to shell them for dinner.
Then we were taught to separate edible skin from pods , which again made a yummy side dish and rest of the green wastage was put in a bag to be handed over to the milk man in the morning for his cow !
In this simply explained simple task we were taught major life lessons like division of labour, trying to use every part of vegetable and thinking of feeding an animal , while preparing for your own meal !

Cook with sweetannu said...

Fantabulous. Cannot wait to be a part of rgis