Archive for May 2016
We discovered cranberries when we lived in Minnesota a decade ago. We were searching for local alternatives to tamarind – the traditional go to for adding a tangy/sour taste to a good many recipes in Indian cuisine. An adventurous aunt who had lived a few decades in that part of the world told us that there is nothing better than cranberries to make good చారు, a sweet & sour rasam that isn’t too spicy. And living in the Twin Cities, we were lucky enough to have cranberry farms in nearby Wisconsin and then when we moved to Toronto, it was the Bala cranberries.
The cranberry farms would organize these cranberry festivals during harvest season and show case the whole process of harvesting and processing cranberries. Though most of the harvest happened through mechanical harvesters, the farms offered people an opportunity to walk through their flooded marshes to harvest these air pocket filled small fruits that float up waiting to be picked. But the thought of having to dry off in the cool fall breeze and that of driving back 3 hours after that didn’t let us venture into those thigh-high gum boots.
As the leaves turned colour and fell, every year since that realization in 2005 (or was it 2004?), we would indulge ourselves by working cranberries in to various recipes – ಗೊಜ್ಜು, ತೊಕ್ಕು, chutney, చారు, పప్పు, jam, spicy bread spread, pasta sauce, etc. From the second season we started making cranberry sauce and chutney to preserve them for the rest of the year … other than stocking up on the berries themselves in the freezer.Since moving back to Bengaluru in 2011, and working consciously to increase the diversity of our nutritional sources, we had discovered kokum and were using it on and off. Last year when we were introduced to Savita of Buda Folklore and learnt that there was a chance to go pick kokum from the trees on their (and their neighbors’) farm in Angadi Bayal, near Kumta in Uttara Canara, we were quite excited. Unfortunately, we couldn’t work it into our calendars last year and we decided to give it top priority on this summer’s plan.
I am so glad that we did go to AB. We had such a great time ! We collected/picked/harvested the fruits, cleaned and segregated them, cut them up to make sundried fruits, sugar steeped preserves, jaggery sweetened jams, and spicy lip smacking chutneys. And while these were probably the driest and warmest days of the year at AB, the open air shower, the sprinkler cooled afternoons, candle and lantern lit evenings and dinners more than made up for the weather. Oh! the thick tree cover with a mango tree here and a kokum tree there in full fruiting glory are sights we will remember for a few months … till we come across the next seasonal fruit that we shall harvest and relish !! 🙂