Friday, 18 May 2012

Gardens and Indian Cooking

Any Indian housewife who can cultivates some kind of garden. In Indian culture, flowers are not just for fragrance, but for worship and for cooking! These jasmine might make a nice offering, or could be used to flavor tea.

I am about to plant my summer vegetable garden, but I still have some lovely mustard greens that I use in the kitchen (recipe to come):
Like many winter vegetables, mustard greens are quite easy to grow and absolutely delicious (but a bit sharp) in salads. Once they're cooked, they acquire an almost sweet flavor. I like to saute mine with onion, garlic, ginger, and some other spices.

I keep meaning to experiment with vegan lavendar ice cream. We have gobs and gobs of lavendar this year, and I adore both the scent and the flavor. Apparently the trick is infusing the lavendar flavor into the sugar. The bees are absolutely loving the lavendar. If I weren't terrified of bees and was very crafty, I'd find where they lived. Last summer when we were in the South of France for our friends' wedding (I know, tough life), I bought the most lovely miel de lavande (lavendar honey). Yeah, that did not last long. Not long at all.

Probably the most important flower in Indian cooking is the rose. I love roses. I come from a very long line of rose gardeners (my dad in particular is a fanatic). I favor roses with a very pronounced scent, like Double Delight.

Then I have this other rosebush that was labeled as a Double Delight, but I don't think it is. It is far too pink, and although it has an incredible fragrance, its scent is subtly different from the Double Delight. Anyone know what it is?

Rose is used to flavor all manner of desserts. I make a mean kheer, but I make it with cow's milk. I am working on a vegan recipe, and once I perfect it, it will appear here.

So what is my favorite plant in the garden? That's easy. I adore sweet peas. Last year I had quite a crop, but this year, they're struggling. Still, they are so prim, and their fragrance is just so amazing. Someday, someone is going to figure out how to infuse that scent into a dessert, and then I will swell to the size of a small dwelling.  I will be reporting more on my garden as my summer crop comes along. I am planning tomatoes, eggplant, marigolds, lemon cucumbers, and a variety of squashes. Yum!

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