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Food for Thought – Are We Losing Out On Our indigenous varieties of Grains and Vegetables?

Unmilled to milled rice, from right to left, b...

A casual chat with an octogenarian grand mother about the local cuisine revealed many surprising facts. Names of rice, vegetables, herbs kept popping out and I have not heard of many. I understood it was a part of the staple food they had in the olden days. Her knowledge about greens were amazing. She walked around the backyard and could pick up leaves and name them also. In addition there were some quick recipes on it. It kept me pondering if we ever thought about some of our lost ingredients? It is time to hit the indigenous route and rediscover the specialty of maapilai samba, Kudhiraivaali, varagu and more. Did you know there’s a rice variety in Tamilnadu called ‘Maapilai samba’ that was fed to bridegrooms before the wedding? Thooyamalli, another traditional rice variety, gets its name from its striking resemblance to jasmine buds, while seeraga samba — which looks like the spice it’s named after — is as fragrant as its distant cousin the Basmati, grown in the foothills of the Himalayas. Out of the ones listed, I could find Seeraga samba with few rice vendors in Chennai. Read on and do share your opinion …

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