Reviews

Growing Plants

Growing plants seem overwhelming to most people. They make up all sorts of excuses. “Oh, there is no space in the house. I don’t have time. I don’t have a green thumb.” But it is actually very simple. You don’t need to have a green thumb to grow in a small scale. When you are tired and your eyes are aching, just observe your plants. Just watch them being there doing their thing in their own quiet way, makes you feel so good! I tell you it’s completely worthwhile.

I still remember each and every plant in our house in the village. During summer, my mother would draw water from the well and fill buckets and pots, and we would water all the plants. When my young cousins came to visit us on month-long summer vacation, they would also give a helping hand. The cool shade of the backyard was my favorite place to be. They knew my joys and sorrows. Every friend/relative who came home was proudly shown around. Even strangers who walked past our compound would stop and admire the rare fruits like Sitaphal, Anar, Bablimos (grapefruit), and of course Jackfruit. Some of them even rang the bell and requested for a fruit, and if it is ripe enough, we would gladly give it away.

My father has a good green thumb. He grows banana, lady’s-finger, chilies, amaranth, drumstick, and he takes care of them so well. Green thumb or not, I try to plant too in my own little way in the little space I have.

Coming back to my little garden here. Living in the city, you don’t have the luxury of planting on the ground. But even planting on pots can be joyful, like I discovered a few years back. Introducing plants from my tiny garden:

I started off with flowering plants.

Desert rose

This is a desert rose bonsai. Low maintenance and flowers throughout the year. My neighbor (a widower who had been living alone for many years) could see this plant from his window. He used to say that although the plant didn’t belong to him, he felt so happy whenever there was a new flower.

Nityakalyani

These are called Nityakalyani in my native. These are also low maintenance and flowers daily. These two plants could survive up to a week without water.

White Jammanthi

Yellow JammanthiWhen I moved houses, the plants too moved with me. But when I moved out of the city, I had to give them away to a nursery to ensure that they are looked after well.

Now I don’t grow any flowering plants. I feel that it is better to grow plants that can be used in daily cooking. Even if it is just a sprig of curry leaf, it feels good to be self-reliant. Once after having pasta that had fresh basil on it, it occurred to me why not grow my own basil?

Italian Large Leaf Basil

I bought basil seeds from the geekgardener’s store. Each seed I planted sprouted within 3-4 days. The leaves smell amazing. If you just touch the leaf, the smell lingers on your finger for a good five minutes.

Spinach

See how healthy my spinach plant looks! Can you believe, it just came up from the leftover roots of the palak that I bought for cooking?

Spinach roots

Leftover spinach roots potted

If the spinach that you bought from the market has its roots intact, instead of throwing it in the bin, just stick them into a pot of soil and water daily. You can grow coriander also in the same way using leftover roots.

Money plant

Don’t tell me you don’t have space to keep a money plant in a corner! All you need is to immerse the plant in a jar of water. Once a week or so, check the water levels and add water as and when necessary. Seeing new tendrils sprout is sheer joy! Indoor plants have many benefits. Not only do they purify the air, they also reduce your fatigue and stress. Fill up small pockets of your house with indoor plants. Take them out to meet the sun over weekends.

Jackfruit saplings

These are jackfruit saplings. I am really proud of these! After consuming ripe jackfruit, I covered the seeds in a piece of cotton cloth, and put them away near the kitchen sink where moisture was guaranteed. In 8-10 days, most of them sprouted. Then I planted them in a pot. Very soon, I plan to plant them in the garden nearby. This is the second batch of jackfruit saplings. I have not had much luck with the tomato plant that you see (extreme left). That one has been in the same state for 3-4 months now. But I haven’t given up as yet. 🙂

It is simple to grow methi (uluva) also at home. Soak the methi seeds (that you use for cooking) in water overnight. Sow them in a pot and in 3-4 days you will notice sprouts.

I treat my plants like members living in my house. I give them their water soon after I wake up. I check how they are doing. Each new sign of life is newfound joy. I feel sad when a leaf turns yellow. Before I pluck a leaf (for cooking), I “take the plant’s permission” and pluck the leaf gently without hurting the plant. I am aware it does not “hurt” them. (Plants are not sentient. They do not have a central nervous system.) Yet this is my way of showing respect to the plant. They are our only source to anything that we consume.

I do not water my plants after sunset and never before sunrise as I feel plants sleep during this time should not be disturbed. If you have taken a walk at a park during sunset, you might have noticed that the leaves of some plants fold together in a touch-me-not leaf kind of fashion. Not all plants display a visible sign of “sleep” but some do. There is scientific proof that at night plants shut down their system by closing their stomata and stopping food production. If you have more information on this, please do share with me.

Growing plants is a beautiful experience. It enriches your person. Do give it a try.

Everyday Simple Recipes, Main Dish

Basil Walnut Pesto Pasta

Easy-to-make basil walnut pesto pasta.Basil Walnut Pesto Pasta
IngredientsIngredients:
To make Basil Pesto
Fresh basil leaves – Medium sized cup (15-20 leaves)
Garlic – 5-6 pods
Walnuts – 1 cup (10-12 pieces)

For Pasta
Cheese – 1 cube
Olive oil – 2 tbsp
Pepper
Salt
Spaghetti/penne or any pasta of your choice

Method:
Cook spaghetti (or the pasta of your choice) in saucepan of boiling salted water as per the instructions in the packet. Drain and keep aside.

Grind garlic, basil leaves, and walnuts to make a coarse paste. Keep a few basil leaves aside for garnishing.

Grind

Heat olive oil in a pan and add the coarsely ground pesto paste. Sauté for a minute or two.

Sauté

Add the cooked pasta and mix well. Add salt and pepper.

basil pesto pasta

Turn off the fire and add cheese and basil leaves. Serve hot.

Pasta

P.S.: If you feel that the pesto paste that you made is too much for the pasta, you can keep a little aside and use it as a sandwich spread after adding some olive oil.

Everyday Simple Recipes, Indian, Snacks

Peppy Paneer Starter

Paneer marinated in curd, ginger garlic paste, and pepper. Its a great starter, good way of protein intake for vegetarians. Be sure you make enough because you just cant stop munching these succulent paneer chunks!

serve

Ingredients:
Paneer – 200 gms
Curd – 100 gms
Peppercorns – 20-25 nos (or pepper powder 1 tsp)
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Dry basil – 1 tsp
Salt – 1 tea spoon or to taste.
Capsicum – 1 medium size
Oil – 1-2 tbsp

Resting Time (for the marinate): 30 mins.
Cooking Time: 15 min.
Method:

Mix the curd with ginger garlic paste, crushed peppercorns, basil, and salt. Cut paneer into 1-inch squares around half a centimeter thick and put in the curd mixture.

paneer

Marinate for half an hour. Cut the Capsicum in square pieces. Pour oil in a pan and place the paneer pieces in the oil and pour the remaining marinate on to the pan. Cook in low fire. Flip over the paneer pieces one by one after 2-3 minutes.

shallow-fry

Cook for 2 minutes until the edges are crisp. Take Out the Paneer pieces and place in the serving dish. Place the capsicum pieces on the pan and cook for around 2 minutes. Take out and place in the serving dish. Its a great starter.

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