Wednesday, July 30, 2008
"Grow Your Own", they say blithely, as if just anybody could grow stuff. Edible, sustaining stuff, I mean. If the event was "Grow Your Own Weeds", I would have beaten everybody else hands down! If wishes were strong enough to bear fruit (and vegetables), I would be buried under a windfall of produce. Unfortunately, wishing does nothing to grow plants… it simply cannot overcome the multiple disadvantages of terrible weather, lack of space, an abundance of leaf-gobbling insects and things and, not the least, my black-fingered efforts at gardening.
Never let it be said that hope doesn’t triumph in the face of adversity, however. Every year, despite the ample evidence of my gardening inability proven by the desiccated brown carcasses of the previous year’s gardening efforts, I plant things in the hope that they will grow. I’m driven by images of succulent fruit and vegetables and herbs that I see on other blogs; even as I rail at the invisible entities that are eating away my growing plants, leaf by leaf, bite by bloody bite, I see myself going out to the garden to get some tomatoes, green beans, peas and potatoes that I’ve grown all by my own self. Alas, they remain dreams, because the reality is that I mostly manage to grow herbs – for a while, that is, before they inexplicably die. And no, it’s not a natural death from herby old age.
Maybe they perish from loneliness, but they shouldn’t. I talk to my plants every day, although I have to admit not always lovingly – sometimes the frustration of having things slowly NOT growing in pots makes me snap. So instead of friendly greetings like “hello plant, how are you today, did you have a good day, I hope the sun shone sweetly on you”, the trend of remarks occasionally is more on the lines of “You! Yes, YOU! You ‘orrible thing! Grow! Laziness wont be tolerated. Use the sunshine, make chlorophyll, put out a few more leaves, fling off any insects, just GROW dammit!”.
Does talking to them – or yelling at them – work? If you’re a black-fingered plant decimator like me, I’m afraid I cant report on any positive growth – cajole or chide as you will, if a plant doesn’t want to grow, it simply wont. Give it to someone else, however, and it will flourish like … like a blasted nettle. It wont even need feeding, watering or pep talks, in someone else’s hands!
Anyway, since the mint is the only flourishing thing this year (despite being slowly decimated from underneath by greedy things not visible to my eye), I plucked a handful of mint leaves off the top and made minty peas pulao, which is my entry for Jai and Bee’s Grow Your Own event.
This peas pulao has minimal ingredients, so the fresh taste of the mint and coriander stand out. Damn, but it was nice to be able to go into my garden and just fetch me some mint - AND the coriander, too. Just call me Gardenin' Gal!
Recipe for: Minty peas pulao
4 cups basmati rice, cooked and cooled
1-1/2 cups peas, cooked
1 cup mint leaves, loosely packed
1/2 cup coriander leaves
1 large onion, minced
3-4 green chillies, minced
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp oil
Salt to taste
1. Grind the mint and coriander leaves to a fine paste with the lemon juice. Do this just before making this dish, not beforehand.
2. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the cumin seeds and green chillies and let fry for a minute.
3. Add the minced onion and fry till it begins to turn soft and brown.
4. Now add the ground mint-coriander paste and fry for a minute or so, stirring well, then add the peas.
5. Toss in the cooked rice and salt to taste, mix it all carefully with a large spoon, without breaking the rice grains.
6. Stir it about on medium heat till the rice is thoroughly warmed through. Serve hot with any raita.