Thursday, January 28, 2010
Blogging about Jaya made me nostalgic---there are some more old regulars----with whom too my association goes back almost as long!!These folks are Fruit and Vegetable Vendors in the Market----they sit on the pavement in the open air with their wares spread out before them!!!The old timers amongst these are from a suburb near Mumbai---Vasai.
Original Bombay(named by the Portuguese)was gifted to King Charles the Second of England by the Portuguese as a Wedding gift when he married their Princess----funny isn't it???X gifts Y to Z---both the donor and the reciever totally unconnected to the region in question!!!Vasai was the other Port in the area that they captured.A verdant place it still has an enviable green cover---which though disappearing slowly------can still be arrested Vasai or Bassein as the Portuguese called it-----is an ancient tiny seaside town an hour and a half away from Mumbai---but it's like being a whole world away!!
It has Palmyra and Coconut Groves, Banana Plantations and large Vegetable Gardens---this area produces some of the best variety of Bananas and Vegetables.The fertile land is watered by the Vaitarna River and grows "Rajaali" or long Pink Bananas,medium and tiny Sweet Bananas called"Velchi" or "Ilaichi" Keli(Bananas)The tiny bananas grown here are really tiny---as big as your pinkie finger---and have an addictive honeyed Taste.
The Rajaali Keli are prized for their sweet taste---these are cooking Bananas and used for making different delicacies like Puddings and Fritters.These are also used for cooking "Sattvik" or "pure" Food during our Fasts and are favourites as offerings during various Pujas.The owners of these Plantations and Gardens travel daily to Mumbai by Train to sell their wares.
My regulars among these are Mama(Uncle),Dilip and Santosh.These guys have the freshest Vegetables for sale in the Market.It is a joy to go there and take in the multiude of choices offered by them----specially during the colder season.Green Eggplants,different Variety of Beans---both cooking Beans and tender Seeds,rich red Tomatoes, fresh Bottle Gourds, Calabashes,Ivy Gourds and Bitter Gourds, Cucumbers, Cabbages and Cauliflowers----makes my mouth water to just see the variety available!!There are tender green Jackfruits and Banana Flowers(My mother loved these)Lemons and Green Mangoes---all laid out so beautifully together----very refreshingly eye pleasing!!!There are also the Palm Tree Fruits called "Taad-Goley"------small Coconut type fleshy Fruits having a delicate taste-----each filled with a mouthful of a sweet juice.These are sold during the Winter---when these are really tender---and disappear around May-June when the Season ends.Thirst quenching, the uncut Fruit looks a lot like the Eggplant but is subdivided into tiny sections----2"across!!
Then there's the South Indian "Flower Anna"----he has beautiful Flowers---the Yellow "Chhaaphaa" and beautiful garlands made of a variety of Jasmines---Bakuli, Chameli, Sayali,Zaaee,Zuee,Mogra,Mallika, Malavika----and sometimes Surangi(Orange Blossom)---I just go mad---no perfume---however expensive----can ever match to the natural fragrances of these Flowers----this is what I miss most about India abroad!!!
Then the "Vasaicha Keli Waalah" or Banana Seller from Vasai---he keeps the choicest tiny Bananas for me----forbidden-----but this is a hundred times healthier than any other sweet!!!The large variety of Fruits coming from Vasai are also it's biggest attraction---the Mangosteen(Kokum) is another prized product.This Fruit has a sweet-sour taste and contains beautiful pink coloured Juice.We use these ripe Fruits to make "Amrut Kokum" a sweet Sherbet which acts as a coolant of the body in Summer.We also use the dried skins instead of Tamarind in our preparations.Mangosteen also produces a waxy Oil which has wonderful medicinal and moisturising qualities on dry skin and cracked heels.I love my Mumbai for it's warmth and colour but I just HATE the Traffic and the crowds----this city is wound up so tight----never gives up and never sleeps!!!