The village organics

The village organics

When moving to the village near Shitlakhet, we were excited about growing some produce. The idea of living in a clean environment and growing chemical-free food was of great interest to us. After 2 years, we finally have some success and many hard lessons learnt. The land was barren for some time and had to be nurtured. Monkeys and wild animals eating crops were another challenge. That is one battle we have to win once or twice every week. Water shortage in summers and frost in winters are also some challenges we live with.

Little help from my friends

But the rest of the village helped us a lot. And this year the pandemic gave us ample time to learn and take care of our kitchen garden. At last, we have grown some beans, carrots, radish and other simple crops. Not to mention, we did lose some of our saplings and vegetables to monkeys and langurs.  

Growing your own vegetables is a pure bliss but there is another appreciable thing about living in a village and it is the generous nature of people. Here life is about sharing and living with the community, one cannot live in the village and not be a part of it. Nayalap has always welcomed not just the urban guests but also the people from the village who often stop by at the property for a small chit chat. Sometimes they bring fresh farm produce and share it with us. In the village people offer their farm produce to others as a kind gesture, sometimes they even barter the produce. So it is wonderful to relish all kinds of fruits, vegetables and even dairy products that one cannot produce in their own home.

Autumn Shitalkhet produce

The variety of fruits and vegetables grown locally are enough to suffice seasonal nutrient requirements. The main autumn crops include Gahat (horse gram), Rajma, Bhatt (black soybean), Madwa (Ragi) and Bhang (Hemp) seeds. These foods take long to digest and therefore keep the body warm naturally. The popular Bhatt ki dal is highly nutritional and cooked on medium flame in iron Kadai. Cooking in iron utensils has great health benefits, it releases the iron in the food and helps to maintain the iron content in the body.

Winter Shitlakhet produce

The availability of Citrus fruits like big lemons, oranges and malta is a bliss in dry winters. The big lemon variety that is found in the foothills of the Himalayas, is unique and used in making juices, chutneys and as an ingredient in a few pahari dishes as well. Sana hua nimbu is a sought after winter snack for all paharis, made with lemon, jaggery, bhang ka namak, curd and chilies. It’s a mouth watering wintry afternoon snack. Main vegetable in winters are palak, methi, lai, gaderi, uggal, carrot, cauliflower that can be grown and had throughout the winters.

Towards the end of winter, onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric are harvested and stocked for the rest of the year.

Summer Shitlakhet produce

Summer is the season for a variety of fruits. Wild berries like kafal (bay berry), hisalu (golden Himalayan raspberry) are a special treat. On a walk in the forest one can indulge in natures bounty and relish these juicy berries directly from the trees and bushes. Also, during the summers the trees in the orchards are laden with plum, peach and apricots, and apples toward the end of summers and beginning of monsoons. Some of the summer vegetables are beans, radish, potatoes, palak, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli and red cabbage.

Monsoon Shitlakhet produce

The monsoon time is for creepers and green vegetables – bottle gourd, lady finger, cucumber, pumpkins, eggplant, capsicum and corns. It’s also the harvest time for apples, pears and pomegranates. One can enjoy two to three varieties of pear grown in our village. For a very short period during monsoons one can find fidlehead ferns in the wild. It is eaten as a vegetable and is also used in pickles.

Chestnuts, pine nuts, wildflower Honey, buttermilk, button/ oyster mushrooms, soap nut, khoya (mawa) pure ghee are some of the other products of our village. 

Special mention: Flavoured salts

Flavoured salts of Uttarakhand have its own place in pahari food culture. Hemp salt, garlic salt, green chilly and coriander salt, cumin salt help in enhancing the flavor of the food. They are added to salads and fruits as enhancers. Hemp salt or bhang ka salt is also used for making chutneys.

Nayalap is now bringing the organic and handmade products from Kumaon to your doorstep. For more information on our local products, please click here.


Comments are closed.