There’s this lovely woman who sits outside the Shangri-La Hotel in Lazimpat most every afternoon, selling a fresh, random assortment of vegetables from her garden (I presume) and around this time of year she sells courgette flowers (aka squash blossoms). It’s the only place I’ve ever, ever found them available in Nepal. Ever. This year I was too lazy to fry them up in the Italian way, so into my soup they went. Lovely.
Archive for the ‘Vegetables’ Category
in gardening, Vegetables
Here’s what our little rooftop garden — a collection of pots, buckets and sacks — yielded day before yesterday. Green beans continue to be the most prolific crop of all we’ve attempted, though we’re getting better at tomatoes. The lone eighteen-day radish was delicious, and those green beans, simply boiled and doused in butter, were the highlight of our evening meal.
I know, I know, they don’t look like much. But they’re nearly the last of the green beans grown fresh in a blue container just outside my door. There have been bigger harvests, which I was much too busy enjoying to remember to photograph. There’s not many there, but they will add a little crunch to tonight’s chicken salad. Yum.
in Food, recipes, Vegetables
A few weeks ago a wonderful friend — who is always trying to feed me — gave me a container to take home. It was full of a delicious and unusual “spinach” and soybean curry. And then when the neighborhood lady who regularly shows up at my gate with little bits of vegetables to sell came with a bag of greens and soybeans, I decided to try to recreate it. She is really friendly and what she brings is always so cheap, I pretty much buy whatever it is, even if I have no real plan of how to use it. Actual spinach is rarely found in Nepal — rather, all greens are called saag, and can be the leafy part of pretty much anything edible. I think what she brought me was mustard greens, but I’m not completely sure. You can use any green leafy vegetable you have to hand, but this is best with smaller and slightly more bitter greens. The most time consuming part of making this was shelling the soybeans – if you can get them preshelled where you are, more power to you. This is a lighter curry, a kind you often get here in Nepal, as opposed the heavier, saucier type some people might be used to thinking of as a curry. The original dish had no potato, but I had one lonely one on my counter that needed to be used and I like potatoes in my curry so I added one – but you don’t have to.
A Simple Curry of Leafy Greens and Soybeans
500 grams/ 1 lb greens of your choice
250 grams/ 8 oz soybeans
1 medium red onion
3 – 4 cloves of garlic
2-3 plum tomatoes
1 medium potato
1 heaping teaspoon of cumin (jeera in Nepali)
pinch of cinnamon
several whole dried chilies, to taste (or chili flakes)
half a vegetable or chicken stock cube
salt to taste
oil for frying
Parboil the soybeans and shell them. This is best done while listening to an audiobook or watching TV so that you won’t notice how slowly the beans are accumulating. If you get too bored, boil twice the amount and eat half of them Japanese style (edamame) as you shell. 🙂
Wash the greens well to remove any grit and lose the roots, if there are any. Roughly chop if the leaves are large.
Chop the onions and garlic and fry for a minute or so. Add the cumin, salt, pinch of cinnamon and the dried chilies. If you don’t have whole ones, you can use a pinch of chili flakes.
Cut the potato into small cubes so it will cook quicker and let it fry with everything for a few minutes while you chop the tomatoes, then add them to the pan, and let everything cook together for a minute or two more. Then add the greens and soybeans and stir well, and crumble in the half a stock cube. Cover and let cook over medium-low heat until the potatoes (if using) and greens are done — it depends what kind you are using, some greens can be rather tough. You might need to add a splash of water to loosen things up and help everything cook, but see how much liquid your tomatoes and greens give off first.
I served this over brown rice and topped it with a fried egg, but it would also be good with rotis or other flatbread. This is enough for two people if you eat it as a main meal like I did, or four people as a side dish. It reheats well and I happily enjoyed it for several days.
in daily life, Food, Kathmandu, Nepal, Vegetables
These might not be the kind of mountains most people think of when they think of Nepal, but at this time of year, heaps of the white daikon radish, known locally as mula, appear on the side of the road in certain parts of the city. I’m always in awe of the quantities there are. Nepalis love to pickle or ferment mula and serve it as a flavourful accompaniment to their dahl-bhat dinners. There are so many variations of mula achar; the word achar is often translated as pickle, but it is not a pickle in the way we know it–rather it almost serves as a seasoning to the plainer tasting dahl, and can be made with a wide variety of vegetables. A common version of mula achar involves julienning it before drying it in the sun, and then tossing with spices and oil before packing it into jars to mature.
Makes me hungry just thinking about it. I don’t think, however, that this farmer would sell me some in less than gargantuan proportions, so I’ll have to get some from my local vegetable seller. Ah, the local vegetable sellers I buy from–they’re a colorful cast of characters and that’s a whole story in itself!
I’ve been eating fresh salad from my garden for several weeks now. Mostly rocket, because that’s what grew most prolifically, but a few other salad greens also survived the spate of odd weather we’ve had.
Chatting with my sister a few days ago, I told her I was eating a salad of rocket from my garden for lunch.
Her: I love that you have a garden that grows stuff! One day I’m gonna too
Me: gardens, you know, do usually grow stuff…
She thinks she has a black thumb; I say there’s no such thing. I have little skill or knowledge of gardening either, but I do love watching things grow. And while most of my vegetables don’t make it anywhere near maturity (some don’t even sprout) what does is worth it. There’s a lot of rules people have made about gardening–when to plant what and how often to fertilize and much more–and I forget most of it. Or I’m too busy to do it properly.
But I say who cares. Seeds want to grow. Throw some in the earth come springtime, water them if you remember to, pull weeds when you have time. Some won’t sprout, others die–and some will produce glorious bowl after bowl of salad. It’s fun, it’s delicious; don’t be put off because you’re not doing it “right.”
It’s not rocket science…
in daily life, Vegetables
The peas came up days ago, and are now lush and lovely looking. And finally, today, I spotted the tiniest seedlings of what I hope is lettuce. Of course germination times vary from one vegetable to another, but it also got me wondering if the peas sprouted so early because they’re local, fresher seeds that I dried myself here, rather than the others which were from commercial seed packets that I’d purchased years ago while in the US and England. I’ll have to research that. But something simple, local and Nepali working better is an idea that makes me happy. A potato has also sprouted, and in the back of the house by the two avocado seedlings, I just planted basil, round zucchini, green beans, and a few other vegetables that I can’t remember at the moment. I’ve also begun planting out bits of mint from my pot in a border back there that’s too thin to grow much in. It’s so tiny that only weeds flourish there. Mint has the honour of being able to grow like a weed, and also, you can never have too much mint.
A few days ago I dug into the garden. I’d just got home and went out there and started pulling weeds and turning soil. I think I’ve been subconsciously putting it off because it hasn’t worked out so well for me in the past. I’ve always rented here in Nepal, and I’ve often had to move abruptly and unexpectedly. Sometimes it was my choice, of course, but often it wasn’t; a true example: “I have just bought this house from the owner. Can you be out in a week?”
So even though I love planting and watching things grow, it’s hard to commit when I don’t know how long I’ll be living in this house. And I remember how I felt when I saw the new tenants of a place rip up the avocado sapling I’d planted. Of course my many pots of flowers, herbs, and small trees always come with me when when I move, but I haven’t had much success growing vegetables in containers, and I want to grow more of what I eat.
I’ve come to love this little pink house, and I hope to be here for a long while. Last year I planted out two small avocado trees in the back patch that I’d grown from seed, and it’s time now to get serious with vegetables.
Two lettuces and some garlic survived from a half-hearted attempt a few months ago, and I think they were happy to be free of their weed-bed. For starters this time around, I planted a bunch of mixed salad greens, and two different kinds of peas and some sprouting potatoes. The salad was from a packet, but the peas were local varieties that I’d saved and dried. The potatoes; tiny ones that I’d ignored while cooking and which had begun sprouting all by themselves in their bowl on the dining table.
There’s more to come; I’ve determined not to let worry and uncertainty stop me from leading the life I want. If and when I should have to move, I will have enjoyed this time in my lovely pink house to the full.