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A touch of poison

Author(s): Amrita Singh
Issue Date: Mar 15, 2013
It is an unassuming weed that grows in profusion along the roads and along the southern stretch of the Ganga. Its berries are black and lacklustre. One wouldn’t think phutka, as the plant is referred to in Bhagalpur, Bihar, could amount to anything much. So I was surprised to find sabjiwalis collecting it from my kitchen garden in Bhagalpur. The tender twigs earn them Rs 10-15 a kilogram in the market, they told me.

For the love of gond

Author(s): Pooja Singh
Issue Date: Jan 15, 2013
During childhood, winters were spent running around the house with my grandmother chasing me. “Just one bite. It will save you from cough and cold,” badi mammi would say, carrying a laddoo made of gond (edible gum) in her hand. She knew how to make the laddoo from the age of 10, when she was married. “Your dada (grandfather) used to love them,” badi mammi told me once while forcing one down my throat.

Goa’s signature spice

Issue Date: Dec 15, 2012
A bunch of green berries looks too delectable for a spice. In fact, the temptation is to bite into them. Yield to it, and you will not be able to taste anything all day—the sizzling sensation in the mouth will keep you salivating profusely for hours, as this scribe found at her own cost.

Fast foods

Issue Date: Oct 16, 2012
This is the season of pujas, festivities and fasts. People must stay away from cereals while fasting. Here's a variety of delicacies that can make fasting delightful.

Weed on my plate

Issue Date: Sep 15, 2012
Monsoon could be an irritating time for gardeners, with wild vegetables (or weeds) taking over flower beds and sidewalks. But before you pick up a hoe or chemicals to get rid of the pesky lot, here’s food for thought: the wild vegetables could be tastier and more nutritious than the vegetables in the market.

Flame that cools

Issue Date: Jun 30, 2012
For a poet, it is all colour and no fragrance, and for the common man, it is a mere flower. Palash, or the Flame of the Forest, which is abundantly available in central parts of the country, has long been considered virtually useless. Of course, the flower once came handy in making dyes for Holi but the profusion of chemical colours in the market put to an end to its use.

Flower power

Issue Date: May 8, 2012
As temperatures soar, the neem trees are in full flower in northern India. In the plains of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha, the forests are filled with the scent of mahua flowers. Everyone should have dishes cooked from these flowers at least once every season to beat the heat and keep ailments at bay

More than food

Author(s): Prabhanjan Verma
Issue Date: Dec 26, 2002
Sattu — roasted gram flour — is not just food in Bihar. It is an entire way of life. Interestingly, its place in popular culture notwithstanding, sattu is not used in any religious ceremony. Although the origins of this debarment are unclear, it is believed that this could be due to the fact that members of ‘lower’ castes used to be the ones doing the actual roasting.

Cool summer food

Issue Date: Mar 19, 2012
As days turn hot, try these traditional recipes to beat the heat. Begin your day with pantabhat that cools the body. Before venturing out in the sun, have a sattu drink which contains a lot of water that the body can use slowly as the sun soaks up moisture from the skin. In lunch you can try guar ki phali, for the fact the veggie grows profusely in summers. Return home to cold shehtoot juice and then end the day with the natural sweetness of mahua flowers which also have an array of micronutrients that rejuvenate the body as you sleep.

Beyond stoned

Author(s): Sharmila Sinha
Issue Date: Mar 15, 2012
Sharmila Sinha explores the roots of bhang in the country’s rituals and culture
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