VULTURES and A MIRACLE FRUIT

History of Food leads me to a MIRACLE FRUIT which is  indigenous to the Western Ghats  of INDIA. There are records of the fruit being consumed as far back as 6000 BC.

It is the largest tree-borne fruit in the world and can weigh upto 45 kgs.

The “Kathal”  or Jack fruit literally grows all over a  very large tree which can grow upto 80 feet ( 26 m) . The large trees made  perfect perches for Vultures ( Gyps Indicus)  which once ruled the skies of Delhi

I still recall my grandmother telling the Gardner to scare away the Vultures as their poop  smeared  the Jackfruits. ( this was on a now infamous road in the heart of Lutyens Delhi)

New Delhi has changed dramatically in the last  4 decades , the Vultures and Kathal Trees  have disappeared from Delhi bearing the brunt of the change.

Kathal ( Hindi): Jack Fruit (English) : Artocarpus heterophyllus (Scientific or botanical name)

Jack Fruit
Jack Fruit

The Jack Fruit packs a punch of Potassium, antioxidants and Beta Carotene. You can check more details on Google/ Wikipedia etc. I am simply fueling your interest in FOOD.

The featured image is that of the seeds  of Kathal  which i have seen for the first time in a vegetable market.( not that i go to vegetable markets daily)  My hopes for a fright future were rekindled.

The “seeds of the Kathal”  are particularly dear to the Jain community as it replaces Taro and potatoes ( do read EXOTIC ANCIENT ROOTS ) in their diet.

Any guesses?

Labelled as the Miracle Fruit it can replace many staple diets in a world where Land for agricultural use is rapidly shrinking .

CHRIST’S THORN , SOUR CHERRIES , VITAMIN C and NOSTALGIA

As mentioned in several earlier posts, India is a treasure trove. All you need to do is LOOK.

While hunting for THE ROOTS OF INDIA  ( do see my earlier post titled EXOTIC ANCIENT ROOTS) in the local vegetable market , I discovered a fruit which used to grow in my grandfathers estate called “CHAMPA” . I was overwhelmed as I  was transported  back in time  to the 1960s.

The “Karonda”  is a  sour fruit  when raw and  grows on bushes with sharp-pointed thorns ( hence the name CHRIST’S THORN) . It turns into a beautiful plum coloured fruit when ripe..

It is loaded with Iron and  Vitamin C and has many medicinal applications. Please check out on Google.

Unfortunately the Karonda  or as i call them SOUR CHERRIES are now an exotic fruit and  rarely seen or heard of. They are used to make jams and pickles at home.

Karonda ( Hindi):  Christ’s Thorns ( English) : Carissa carandas ( Botanical name

Karonda
                              Nostalgic Karondas

Please do comment if you have heard or seen of this fruit before? I understand it is widely grown in Ethiopia as well.

What is the history of this fruit, can anyone enlighten us?

These sour cherries worked as a time machine as they engulfed me  in a wave of Nostalgia and transported me to my childhood .

ALL THE WAY THROUGH A FOREST OF MUSHROOMS: 9 YUMMY STEPS TO HEAVEN

Heaven was definitely at THE GREENHOUSE ON THE RIDGE that evening.  ( a pop up restaurant within OLIVE at Mehrauli, New Delh) . Hope you have read the earlier chapters in this series of blogs.

Master Chef Sujan and his magical conjurers had laid out 9 steps or courses to divinity.

I am sharing these with you.

non veg
Non Veg
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Veg

I was in Heaven, what tastes ,what flavours and what to say of the feast for the eyes.

Oranges
Oranges

Come lets take the last steps together.

I draw your attention to the lovely bowls made in Manipur and the lovely handcrafted  spoons.

Details like this accentuate the experience from Ordinary to EXTRAORDINARY.

7th course
7th course

This forest of mushrooms was laid out on a marvelous bed of and assortment of  grains.It was an assortment of flavours which burst on your taste buds.

forest of mushrooms
forest of mushrooms

Paired with this visually delightful WHISKY COCKTAIL, can  HEAVEN be better? See the menu above for details.

whisky?
whisky?

The final steps are always the sweetest. Here too the magicians did not fail in surprising us.

The transparent Litchi looking fruit is called LONGAN. Had never even heard of it , let alone taste it?

8th course
8th course

Take a break with  a “Havana” Cigar ? The chef brings these lovely chocolate cigars in a bed of liquid nitrogen. The smoke is the nitrogen turning to its gaseous state at room temperature.

The signature white Carnations maintain the link in this series of blogs.

cigars?
cigars?

The final and 9th step to HEAVEN had all the guests in raptures, with wow, oohs, aahs .

Have a look yourself?

broken egg?
broken egg?

It was a fabulous and delicious treat. The ‘shell’ was an extra thin meringue which simply melted on the tongue.The ‘yellow yolk ‘ was a smooth citrus lemony mousse.

The 9th step was truly the ultimate , THIS WAS HEAVEN in THE GREENHOUSE ON THE RIDGE.

egg has gone
Polished off in seconds

The surprises did not end, as I spotted a bit of the ridge well-preserved in the kitchen.

The Kitchen work table had been built around these rocks.

the ridge peeps into the kitchen
the ridge peeps into the kitchen

We leave this magical cottage and step into the cover of the Banyan tree , which is also the outdoor section of the  mother ship ( restaurant)  OLIVE.

OLIVE and the outdoor seating under the BANYAN tree.
OLIVE and  the BANYAN tree.

Have a great Sunday, Its curtains for my FIRST FOOD BLOG.

Do share this heavenly experience with those you love dearly.

A TEMPLE INCOMPLETE, A HAREM and FOREST BATHING

A  drive on Indian Roads/ Highways  is equivalent or similar to the  joy of a treasure hunt .

There are beautiful treasure boxes waiting to be  opened and discovered all along the way . All you need to do is to look and  watch the package dramatically open. The titles of each post/blog are teasers which you need to discover and unravel yourselves as you read on.

Having taken you  to a vast number of destinations , it is now  time for Shinrin-yoku.( a lovely Japanese term for Forest bathing ) . I loved the expression  from the first day i heard it.

We are off on a  drive from Bhopal ( do see the blog:http://www.travelwithmukul.wordpress.com) to the unknown   forests  of Satpura National Park , both located in the state of  Madhya Pradesh, the Heart of India.

It is  usually  a  180 km drive  but we are on a treasure hunt, ( and we do not want to do the usual) so we stretched it to 220 kms. Now the adventure begins.

A mere 28 kms from Bhopal and on a  slight detour we discover the ancient capital of Raja Bhoj ( 1010-1053) ,  BHOJPUR.

We unravel the” first package”, a strategically  located  temple on a hillock . The Bholeshwar temple has the largest single stone Shivling but was left mysteriously left INCOMPLETE.

I will write on this architectural marvel and  mysterious area  in a separate blog, as we move onto package two of our treasure hunt.I thus give you only a glimpse.

bhojpur or bholeshwar temple
Incomplete  Bholeshwar Temple at Bhojpur

Do not sleep whilst you are on the highways (Indian roads are not endless runners of emptiness) , a blink and you will miss the unusual. Lord Shiva and the egrets chill out under a Banyan tree.

lord shiva
lord shiva

The drive to this unknown forest in the  heart of India is undertaken by crossing the vast  River Narmada.

a railway bridge built over a century ago
a picture from the car of a railway bridge

The River Narmada is the center of numerous myths and stories that knit this land. Do unravel these stories and tell us about what you found on your trip.

Narmada, is  the river which cleanses the Holiest of Indian rivers  The Ganges.” ( more on this story in another blog)

River Narmada at Hoshangabad
River Narmada at Hoshangabad

The red fruits placed near the potatoes are called “Ber” in Hindi and are a   treasure trove of Vitamin C . My camera turned to her  and I got this gorgeous smile. Can there be a bigger treasure than bringing Happiness to another human ? Observe her  lovely silver anklets.

Ber and a big smile
Ber and a big smile

Do keep looking out of the windows and you will be richly rewarded. I spotted His Highness the  King Fisher on his Perch.

HH The Kingfisher
HH The Kingfisher

It is often that you will need to wait at Railway Crossings in India . So did we and  discovered yet another treasure.

Piparia is closest Railway station to Satpura national Park
Piparia is the  closest Railway station to Satpura National Park

A Spotted OWL carefully  observes all  our movements from a roadside tree near the Railway Crossing.

watchful owl
watchful owl

The final package we discover  before we reached our destination was this family:  The Black Buck and his Harem. They had decided to pay this farm a visit from their homes in the forest.

we were close to the national Park
we were close to the national Park

This charming  blue cottage and a well  were  located at the edge of the forest and close to our accommodation.

Blue Cottage at the edge of the forrest
Blue Cottage at the edge of the forest

 Jingles welcomes us at THE FORSYTH LODGE at Satpura National Park. We are now ready for the ultimate treasure and our only planned aim  of FOREST BATHING ( Shinrin-yoku). 

A process of cleansing the mind  by visiting the forests. But for that you must wait for another day.

warm welcome
warm welcome