The Chir Pine: Pinus roxburghii

I’ve been fascinated by the chir pine Pinus roxburghii (Pinus longifolia) for quite some time and realised that I haven’t yet put down a post on it. I’ve marvelled at its beauty both at Sattal and also Mussoorie in Uttarakhand, India.  Unfortunately it is sad to see villagers set whole slopes of the forest on fire which is taken up by the layer of dry pine needles covering the mountain slopes. The villagers do it so that grass would grow again on the ground between the trees for them to take home back to their cattle. It is also suspected that the land mafia does this to deliberately deforest areas in connivance with the authorities which they can then encroach upon and sell. This is easy to do as the pine is rich in resin and catches fire easily even when wet. Continue reading The Chir Pine: Pinus roxburghii

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The enigma of eating healthy

Eating healthy is an enigma indeed. This of course is on account of there being as many opinions on this subject as there are people themselves. It doesn’t help that those at the forefront of publishing these “scientific reports” often have  business interests, or are in the business of selling diets to lose weight, beat cancer or peddle similar miraculous cures or sell  so called super-foods -all with an intent to pad their pockets.

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Harvesting and processing Arrowroot

Arrowroot (Maranta arundinacea) is a familiar name. As kids it was a kind of a sister to castor oil which mum sometimes spooned into our mouths. It was bland and insipid and that was the beginning of my childhood hatred for any kind of porridge and of Arrowroot biscuits which has thankfully now passed. Arrowroot derives its name from its past medicinal use in which it was used as a poultice to treat wounds inflicted by poisoned arrows. Continue reading Harvesting and processing Arrowroot

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Harvesting and processing Turmeric

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a spice which is very familiar in Asia. It is usually used powdered and is one of the easiest to identify due to its bright orange-yellow color. However it is often adulterated and then colored with artificial colors. If you have a small garden patch, it is very easy to grow turmeric on your own. It is almost maintenance free and takes care of itself provided the weather is not too cold and there is good rainfall.  Continue reading Harvesting and processing Turmeric

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Mexican Poppy: Argemone Mexicana

I first noticed this plant next to a friend’s house in Faridabad, Haryana. It had leaves with sharp spines, yellow cup shaped flowers with overlapping petals with a white film covering the green parts. I asked the watch man who is from the Siwan district of Bihar in India what kind of plant it was and he told me that it  was called Bhajkatiya. I asked the boy who does odds and ends in our office who is also from Bihar, he told me that it was called Bhadbhadiya back home.


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Cooking in coastal South Karnataka

Search for the words food and Udupi together in a search engine and you will quite likely come across the term “Udupi hotels” (read that as Udupi restaurants).  Even though this post uses these words numerous times, I won’t be writing about the vegetarian fare that is served in Udupi restaurants which has evolved to become such a delicious mix and match of popular south Indian snacks.  However, most people still think that these restaurants serve food exclusive or native to the Udupi region.  Well, read on…

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Drumstick leaf fried rice

The drumstick tree, as it is known in India or the Moringa Oleifera, is a well known tree. The stick like seed pod is commonly cooked and at home is mandatory for sambar, the leaves although being highly nutritious are seldom used in our house. Even though we had a tree by our window all through our childhood years in Bombay, my mother, in spite of knowing that it was edible, seldom prepared it. They themselves ate it during their childhood, but only in its capacity as a medicine or probably as some kind of famine food during hard times. Even when I go home for Christmas every year, and we have a tree growing in our garden, she won’t prepare it unless I insist. This time I did. The flowers of the Moringa are edible as well.


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