Olive and Spinach Surprise: Alu Palak bonda
Maharashtrian Thali

The changing face of food



Our little cooperative vegetable market, housed in a something like a garage, stocks most of the essentials needed for Indian cookery. Green coriander, coconut, kari patta i.e. curry leaves, ginger, garlic, green chillies, lime, leafy vegetables, khatta bhaji, chawlai /amaranthus, methi sag, /fenugreek leaves, root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, onions, arvi/colocasia and seasonal vegetables,


like Tonli, padwal /snake gourd, bhindi /okra, green beans, cabbage and so on.
For anything special one had to go to the main market in the Cantonment area ...Shivaji Market.
Now what do I see pasted on the wall recently?


We have gone upmarket, we have become fancy, we are changing. And in case you can't read the writing on the wall, it says...Basil, Broccoli, Curd (yogurt), Parsley, Celery.

This means I can cook up an Italian meal without going out of the way , as some of the fresh ingredients are readily available to me. Thyme, sweet basil, red and yellow peppers, asparagus and so on are also more commonly seen in local vegetable shops.

None of these vegetables and herbs are imported. They are grown locally by enterprising farmers who find a ready market in hotels and restaurants in Pune, and the local population who are much more open to trying out new recipes and other cuisines besides their own.

This is a matter worthy of some rejoicing as we always had to look around for substitutes when recipes specified certain herbs or vegetables .

Today I can make a mean Crostini di fegatini di pollo as I can get celery, rosemary, sage, parsley, extra virgin olive oil, anchovy fillets, capers and a fairly good white wine right here. The only thing I need to substitute is a a Broon( fresh baked crusty bread) for a Tuscan baguette.

But that is as good , (at Rs 4, maybe better) than the Real thing.