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Jharas – The Exotic Leafy Green of Winters

Detour, Khaugalli February 18, 2017

Jharas is Winter green found only in the region of Vasai-Virar. Most of the vegetable vendors especially those who are not native and sometimes even natives like ‘maushis’ in  eastern market of Virar haven’t  heard of this leafy green. It just grows like that, probably like in the mushy areas around wells. The veggie is bitter in taste, slightly bitter than methi, so the proportion with other ingredients needs to be balanced while cooking. It is supposed to have medicinal value and therefore preserved by sun drying and stocked for the whole year. If you like methi, you will like Jharas.

After a lot of search (been on lookout for nearly 2-3 years) found this greens in the small market of Umbargothan- a pretty scenic village situated in between the road to Nalasopara starting from Agashi. Had to travel far but I’m not complaining because the evening travel by Dumdum (big rikshaw) was pleasantly beautiful with reddish-golden sun setting on the horizon and the road surrounded by luscious green fields. Hope the greenery never vanishes.

Below  is the recipe for Jharas Vaal bhaaji in the video. The recipe is given by Ms. Bhagyashree Pandit. There are other ways to cook jharas like using in thalipeeth.

Hurry now before the season is gone!

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Vaal – Deth Aamti

Uncategorized August 25, 2015

Many greens and  vegetables have vanished today from the market because they lack either distinguishing taste, or easy availability. I have heard from mother, how Taro, Drumsticks, Radish and many other lesser known greens that grew aplenty without plantation cost provided nutritional supplement the middle class and poor households in those days could not have afforded otherwise. Some vegetables like Kantavli (Spine gourd) are suddenly  being acknowledged and awaited for their medicinal value and delectable taste resulting in their heavy valuation while others are living a forsaken and ignored existence, but still fighting to survive in the market.

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I had noticed these purple reddish colored, thick stems many a times, very passively. I remember doing some general inquiry on them when I first noticed, and then somehow my brain categorized them as a lesser priority. Last week, I suddenly became curious on its ever availability and thought that there must be good amount of consumer for it that they are so much visible in the market. Virar’s locals, mostly honoring the  nostalgic value, have not abandoned many simple veggies in this new modern times and this red stems, probably overgrown Lal Math (let me know if they have a different name) are testimony to it.

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This time I decided to buy this veggie, and cook it. My mother called this one as dethachi bhaji and cooked them with vaal (field beans). They somewhat smelled like taro leaves while cooking, were like drumsticks/sugarcane in texture, and tasted like a cooked starchy, soft tuber. You have to be careful about the skin while eating, if it’s a thick overgrown stem, even a small shred is pointed and sharp, and can hurt throat if you by mistake gulp it. We did not use the leaves, they didn’t seem to be tender. The Aamti tasted delicious.

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Vaal-Deth Aamti, Mother’s Recipe

Ingredients –

1 big stem of lal math, 1 cup field beans, Asafoetida, methi crushed seeds- half tea spoon, green chillies -2,  jeera 1 t.spoon, curry leaves,  red chilli powder- 1 tea spoon turmeric powder 1 tea spoon Goda-kala Masala -1 tb. spoon, 1/4 cup shredded coconut, besan 1 tb spoon, tamarind, 1 medium potato. Salt and jaggery to taste.

Method –

Cut the stem in pieces, peel the hard skin off. Boil Field beans and the stem pieces together. Heat oil, add jeera, Asafoetida, methi seeds, green chilies, curry leaves and let them splutter. Add peeled & sliced potato and let it cook. Add red chilli powder, turmeric powder, tamarind water(according to amount of sourness you prefer)and the boiled field beans-stem pieces. Make a smooth paste of 1 tb spoon besan and 2 tb. spoon water and add to the curry, boil 4-5 minutes then add goda-kaala masala, coconut, salt and a little jaggery to taste. Turn off the stove and serve it with steamed rice.

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