Spices , feni and more

Sahakari spice garden , Goa.

After our guided tour and a delicious lunch , we were allowed to wander about in the spice garden . A look at what we saw ….

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A large centipede . The largest I’ve seen till date
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Flowers of a love apple tree add a lovely dash of pink . 
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Coffee bean plant
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Peri peri chilies  

A little section of the garden is dedicated to explaining how Feni – a locally produced spirit which is made out of cashews or toddy palm is distilled. Fermented cashew juice is distilled thrice to get what is sold in the market as feni.

This was definitely an afternoon well spent.

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A spice garden in Goa and grandma’s concoctions

Goans love spices and we use a combination of many in most of our cooking. I have been to a spice garden in Kerala a few years ago and was quite fascinated at the time . This visit to Sahakari spice garden in Ponda was quite interesting too .  We saw some of the locally grown spices , fruits and nuts and were given a detailed explanation of how they can be used in simple home remedies for every day health issues.

As the chirpy guide went on from one spice to the next , I kept thinking of my Mai ( grandma) who always had (and still does ) a magical concoction for stomach ache , nausea , cough , cold , congestion etc for all of us at home. She would explain, as she roasted caraway seeds, that inhaling a little of it would keep the cold away or she’d tell us proudly how her siblings and she would gulp down glasses of cumin flavored water and had never complained of griping aches like we did . With a dearth of doctors and medical facilities in the primary health dispensary in the neighbouring village , my grandma had learnt from her mother how to utilize spices for more than just flavor and aroma. What we learnt at the spice garden was a reiteration of grandma’s spicy tales !

I enjoyed listening to some new bits of information , walking around and of course the lovely meal . The entry is INR 400 per person which includes a 30 minute tour and lunch. There are atleast three spice gardens that I’ve heard of in Goa and there must be more . So if you have a couple of hours and want to see a side of Goa away from the sea and sand , head to any of these spicy treats . 🙂

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Pepper corns

Pepper corns are grown in our garden in Goa and the first thing I can think of when I see black pepper corns is ‘jeerem meerem’ ( jeerem – cumin , meerem – black pepper corn).Jeerem meerem is a simply spiced but delicious fish curry that any Goan would vouch for . This is a curry that ditches the coconut ( which is an integral part of most of our curries ) and instead is a lighter , well balanced curry that goes well with rice. So yes , we love pepper 🙂

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Banana – the flower is supposed to have many medicinal properties 
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Coffee bean plant
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Cocoa -where birds have had their fill 
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Fresh turmeric . It is called the sister of ginger ( am not sure why ) but my grandma swears by a cup of turmeric and ginger tea 
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Betel nut /Areca nut 
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Areca palms 
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A betel nut palm climber shows us how it’s done

Jumping from tree to tree , plucking from about 30 to 40 palms in one go , these are super heroes without capes !

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and where there’s a modern day Tarzan swinging , there ought to be an elephant , no ?

More to follow in the next post  🙂 Until then , keep it hot and spicy !

 

 

 

 

Palolem – South Goa

South Goa is quieter , cleaner and less crowded as compared to the beaches of North Goa. Palolem is one such coastal village in Cancona, South Goa. Travelling to the usual spots  from here is expensive and time consuming , making this a not so sought after place to stay and that makes it perfect for those who want to have a peaceful holiday. DSC_0700DSC_0729DSC_0869

Butterfly conservatory in Goa

Goa – our first trip in 15 months and our first with the little one. This is also the first time in 33 years that I didn’t stay at home but chose to live in South Goa and then in Fontainhas, Panjim . Most of my posts in the weeks to come will be about Goa and all things Goan . I hope you enjoy them .

I begin with the butterfly conservatory in Priol , Ponda. This one is just 25 km away from my ancestral home and I had not heard of it until a couple of months ago. On our way to the spice garden ( Sahakari spice garden) in Ponda  , we managed to find this small butterfly park . This is a place not on the regular tourist circuit and many might not find it worth the travel. It is an open park so you might spot many butterflies on a given day or a few , but it still is a pretty place for nature enthusiasts .The place has been started and is maintained solely by the efforts of a passionate couple who’ve painstakingly converted this barren piece of land into something worthwhile .I quite enjoyed my time here.

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Fort of Chittorgarh

One of the largest forts in the country and a world heritage site , this is a fort that has many stories to tell. I spent five hours listening to tales of Rajput valour , sacrifice , battles and romance .  Stories of Mirabai’s devotion to Lord Krishna , of how Alauddin Khilji wished to see Rani Padmini after hearing tales of her incomparable beauty , of Rani Padmini and her companions committing self-immolation to protect their honor….one fort with endless stories.

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A world of stories awaits us

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Ruins being restored 
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More ruins
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Where Mirabai is believed to have lived and survived poisoning

This is where we were told the story of Mirabai and her devotion to Lord Krishna. There is also a temple dedicated to Mirabai in the fort complex.

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Jain temple 
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Nine storied Vijay Stambh which took over ten years to complete

 

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Chittor was also called a water fort due to the many reservoirs within it .This is the Gaumukh reservoir

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Kirti Stambh
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Closer look at the temple 
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Stories inscribed in stone on the temple exteriors – one of the friezes 
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Leaving the fort