The Chir Pine: Pinus roxburghii

Pine tree Mussoorie

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

Snowpeak titanium plate

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 harvest

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

Drying steamed 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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Drying/Dehydrating coconut

Drying coconut for oil


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Coconuts when stored in their husk last for a long time, even after their water has dried out. A dried out coconut is called a gontu tarai (Tarai = coconut) in Tulu. A coconut in Kannada is called tenginakaai. However, from a bug out or survival point of view, you might suddenly find yourself in possession of more coconut than you might be able to use, or as a single person find your grated coconut going rancid pretty fast. Even if it frozen, it does lose part of its taste. Sometimes you might also need dried coconut for a particular recipe. Continue reading “Drying/Dehydrating coconut”

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Husking coconuts at home

coconut with husk removed


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Husking  a coconut can be done in several ways. The simplest, also seen in a popular wilderness survival show is to use a flattened stake embedded in the ground to tear into the husk and then twist out the husk in sections till the whole coconut has been husked. This in essence must been the original technique for husking a coconut. I remember a more permanent version of this standing in grandma’s gadang (The store room) where this tool used to be kept, probably for fear that the kids might accidentally spear themselves with it if they fell over it. It was an iron rod about 1″ in diameter which was embedded in part of a tree trunk flattened on the underside, so that it stood with the rod  pointing upwards at about 75 degrees to its base. Continue reading “Husking coconuts at home”

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How to open up a green (tender) coconut

tender coconut

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I had clicked these pictures a couple of years ago. After procrastinating for quite some time, I’ve finally posted them. Green or tender coconuts as they are known make for a very refreshing drink -particularly in the summers. They are known to have a cooling effect on the body and are full of electrolytes. Wikipedia says that the water in an undamaged coconut is sterile and has even been used in developing countries and during WWII in emergencies as IV fluid. Back home in Udupi, we often give tender coconut water to sick people. Some varieties such as the more expensive yellow Gendali bonda is said to be more beneficial for sick people. Continue reading “How to open up a green (tender) coconut”

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