Shutterbug's Blog

Living with Multiple Myeloma in Hyderabad , India . Random musings .


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My Kitchen Garden

Rains are finally here and I am excited to do some serious gardening. I do not have a lot of space for plants ,but I hope to make maximum use of the available space and will be using containers too. I will also be using home made compost and pesticides. Basically trying to grow the organic way 🙂 .

I got a few Chilli saplings from an Organic Store that I visit often. I was surprised to see a few chilli saplings sprouting on their own in my little patch. A few dried/ripe chillies from my chilli plants in the previous season must have got into the soil and were hiding there till the right moment 🙂

Removed the whole Mint patch that I had and planted fresh stems from a bunch of Mint that I got from the store. The previous patch was getting sparse and started drying up. I harvested the leaves several times during Summer.

My Malabar Spinach is growing well. I grew them from the seeds of a lone plant that I had. I have already harvested the leaves twice and is ready for harvesting again.

I successfully made my first batch of Organic Compost during the recent summer months. I have started using this compost for my plants. Feeling good .

Thankfully my plants are not infected with any pests as of now.

I also put a few pieces of ginger and Turmeric in the soil. Got to wait and see how well they do.

I am also experimenting with Coriander cuttings. Replanted a few root cuttings from a coriander bunch that I got from the store. Growing coriander from seeds is a long and slow process. Hope this trick works though I am not confident it will work. Will probably sow the seeds directly in a couple of days.

I sowed seeds of Bitter gourd , Ridge gourd , Snake gourd and cluster beans . I see that a few seeds of cluster beans have sprouted , the rest haven’t . Don’t really know the reason. Either the seeds are not good or I watered a lot. Will continue to sow them again and again until I succeed.

Also sowed a few seeds of Khatta palak (Hindi) or Chukka Koora (Telugu) .

Will also sow Fenugreek/Methi seeds in a day or two . These seeds sprout real fast.

Watching a seed sprout,  the first leaves , the budding , the flowering , the fruits/veggies growing bigger and finally the harvesting , all the activity makes me more energetic . I feel like I am absorbing Energy from nature. I look forward to the next morning to see how they are growing. There is an underlying hope when you are into Gardening . No wonder my Doctor told me to do some Gardening way back in 2012 🙂 . 

That’s it for now. Will post pics of how these babies are doing , in a few weeks.

 


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Health , Nutrition and South Indian Recipes with Korralu (Foxtail Millets)

Rice is a staple food of a majority of South Indians. Most of us cannot imagine life without rice . Craving for rice begins after 24 hours of not eating rice:)) . I too belong to South India 🙂 and a major part of my diet used to comprise of rice. Rice is an ingredient in our Breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The kind of rice that is usually available in most stores is highly polished and hence deprived of nutrients and is left with carbs. After learning about how cancer cells feed on sugars and carbs , I started my research on ways to minimize consumption of rice . Rice is an ingredient in several traditional South Indian dishes like Dosa , Idli , pongal , pulihora etc. Plain rice is eaten with other ‘curries’.

I came across ‘millets’ a couple of years ago and gradually started incorporating these in my diet.

Millets are a group of food grains grown in semi arid areas. These are ancient grains which have not undergone selective breeding.There are several varieties of Milliets. Pearl, Foxtail, Finger, Sorghum etc. Millets are gluten free, they are alkaline, have low GI and are anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is the major cause of a lot of chronic diseases. Millets are usually not attacked by pests and hence are relatively free of pesticides. Millets have higher amounts of minerals and fiber than wheat and rice. Good for putting a check on Diabetes, cholesterol etc

I will be focussing on Foxtail Millets in this post. They are called ‘Korralu’ in Telugu.
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These are a very close substitute to rice and can be used in the preparation of a variety of traditional South Indian dishes.

Korralu (whole grain) can be cooked just the way we cook rice. Replace rice with korralu , for rice preparations like Pulihora, Kichdi, Sweet pongal etc.
Batter for idli and dosa is prepared by substituting rice with foxtail millets. Brown rice, foxtail millets and Urad Dal  can be added in equal proportions to make a batter for Idli and dosa.

Korralu ravva is also available in a few supermarkets and organic stores. Idli and Upma can be made using this ravva.

You might have to experiment a bit with the quantities. The taste , colour , texture might differ slightly from what you are normally used to . The idlis may be harder than the usual stuff  when you make them for the first time . The texture of dosas  too might vary. Think of the nutrition rather than the look , feel and taste. With experience you will be able to do a better job 🙂

Add cooked Foxtail millets to your favourite salad . You can include foxtail millets in moong dal dosa. Get creative and adventurous !!

Lots of recipes are available on youtube. Check them out !

~~ You are what you Eat !! ~~

 

 


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My latest Obsession : Organic food

Reading and discussing about Organic food is the first half of a story whereas actually buying , tasting , appreciating and getting addicted to Organic food is the second and most exciting part of the story.

I came across Organic food some 7 years ago and accidentally came across a store selling Organic food  in Hyderabad about 4 yrs ago, for the first time in the form of ‘Natures  Basket’.

Having read about the benefits of  Organic food , I walk into the store and find that all the veggies and fruits were shrivelled and the quantity was very less. I was excited about buying a lot of stuff  but was disappointed . Bought some other groceries like dals .The store was far from home and hence was conveniently forgotten .

Come 2016 and I suddenly start searching the net for other Organic food stores in Hyderabad. Was glad to see that a lot of stores were open. Read about Organic Bazaars at Saptaparni , Lamakaan, Hyderabad Goes Green, Sristi Naturals, Sacred space  etc.

Visited the Monthly bazaar at Saptaparni, Banjara Hills and loved the atmosphere and variety of products. Veggies, fruits, Dals, cold pressed oils, mud vessels, honey, millets, handicrafts, hand made jewelry, jute bags, soaps (vegan), shampoos and many other items are available.They do appear fresh and look good too. I was happy but then the doubting mind starts questioning whether the products are genuine . They are expensive too, almost double the price of the regular stuff.

I did buy a few veggies hesitantly and found that they did taste good .

I continued reading about the other stores.

Landed at Lamakaan , Banjara Hills on anothet Sunday. They had similar stuff like in Saptaparni. Saw lots of people buying stuff and carrying big bags full of groceries. My confidence levels on the authenticity of the wares increased. I bought many more veggies during this visit. I also bought a few varieties of dals , tamarind and a hair shampoo bar.

I usually end up throwing away a few veggies in the refrigerator once in a while but this time I made sure not a single vegetable was wasted. I wouldn’t allow my cook to do the cooking and I would prepare the curries myself 🙂 . I wanted to wash , cut , smell and taste the expensive veggies myself .

I liked the taste and flavors.

Lamakaan and Saptaparni are far from home and I wanted to visit more often but was unable to.

I had joined a group ‘Organic Meetup’ on FB, sometime ago.

A few days back I saw a post with the address of an Organic food store closer to where i live. It is named ‘Goodseeds’ . I wanted to go there the next minute. Went there directly from work and entered this neat little store with several packets and veggies placed on the shelves on the walls.I spent some time looking at each one of them.Though the atmosphere is incomparable to the lively atmosphere at  Saptaparni and Lamakaan , I was pleased with the items that are available here.There were a few veggies and I was told that new stock will arrive the next day.
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I pick up a few veggies , virgin coconut oil , millet ravva , chia seeds and apples.

I am back the next day and pick up cinnamon and more veggies.

I no longer want to buy groceries at the regular supermarkets. I am thoroughly enjoying the taste and flavor of Organic food.

I am now addicted to Organic food!!

The lady managing this store added my phone number to her whatsapp group and sent a msg as soon as new stock arrived.

I was her first customer to buy from the new stock :)))

This was the grocery haul.
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My experience till now with Organic food :

For the first time in three decades I tasted original  Shimla apples which crispy and have a sweet fragrance unlike other imported ones that have flooded the market.

For the first time in decades I was able to taste authentic cinnamon that is sweet. Memories flashed from childhood days when I would love to chew a small piece of cinnamon while mom was cooking and had placed a few pieces on the kitchen counter. These were very neat and clean too.

My morning ginger + cinnamon tea now tastes very sweet and I need not add honey to it .

Been ages since I smelled the typical sour flavour of dosakaaya (cucumber) while it was being cooked.

I like the shampoo bar too. It is vegan and made of soap nuts and vegetable oils.

I finally started cooking with cold pressed coconut oil and the curries are yummy. I plan to prepare Avial one of these days 🙂 .

While I buy the groceries I have a nice chat with the lovely lady as to how and where they source the groceries, the quality checks , home delivery , organic manure etc