Category: Produce

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Description
In the Kitchen
Recipes
References and Further Reading
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Description

snake gourd is a tropical or subtropical vine, its variety T. cucumerina var. anguina raised for its strikingly long fruit, used as a vegetable, medicine, and in crafting traditional Australian musical instruments known as didgeridoos. Common names of the cultivated variety include snake gourd, serpent gourd, chichinda, and padwal. Its soft, bland, somewhat mucilaginous flesh is similar to that of the luffa and the calabash. It is popular in the cuisines of South Asia and Southeast Asia and is now grown in some home gardens in Africa. snake gourd is said to be good food for diabetics because of its low calorie content and high water content. In addition it is said to have anti inflammatory properties, cooling properties and is a good expectorant and detox food.

In the Kitchen

snake gourd can be cooked in ways similar to zucchinis and other vegetables in the squash family. snake gourd has a mild taste, and the texture is slightly tougher and starchier than a zucchini.

Recipes

snake gourd is a very common ingredient in Indian and Southeast Asian recipes. Try this simple recipe if you are unsure of how to cook it.

Ingredients:
snake gourd, chopped – 1/2 inch pieces
yard long beans, chopped – 1 inch pieces
– 1 large heirloom tomato, chopped (or as many as you can afford 🙂 )
– 1/2 onion, chopped fine
– 1 tsp cumin seeds
– 1 sprig curry leaf
– 2 tbsp cooking oil preferably ghee

Directions:
Heat ghee in a heavy bottomed pan over a medium flame. Once oil has warmed add cumin seeds and curry leaves and cook until cumin seeds darken to a deep brown. Next, add onions and cook slowly until their color turns translucent. Add the chopped tomatoes, and cook down until most of the water has evaporated. Now add the chopped snake gourds and the chopped string beans. Cook on a medium-low heat slowly. Check every few minutes. You want the snake gourd and beans to soften up but not be mushy. Eat with fresh brown basmati rice and a side of yogurt.

References and Further Reading

William Woys Weaver on snake gourd

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Description
In the Kitchen
Recipes
References and Further Reading
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Description

jujube is a very tasty fruit that is native to South and East Asia. jujube is considered to have a wide variety of medicinal properties, especially for blood disease. jujube can be eaten fresh, just like an apple (small single seed inside), or mature fruit can be dried and used in soups, teas, and jellies. jujube dries out on its own and wrinkles, so it also known as Chinese/Japanese/Korean date, although it is not related to dates.

In the Kitchen

jujube is delicious when eaten fresh and crispy just like an apple. These fruits are said to be very good for women’s health. They are also incredibly tasty when dried. They can be used in cooking, just as you might use any other dried fruit in dishes like porridge or oatmeals.

Recipes

Yaksik(약식): Sweetened rice with fruits and nuts
Medicinal Chinese jujube Porridge

References and Further Reading

jujube Fruits: About and How to Eat

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Description

Fig is a flowering plant in the mulberry family. The common fig tree has been cultivated since ancient times and grows wild in dry and sunny areas, with deep and fresh soil. The plant can tolerate seasonal drought, and the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean climate (like what we have in Southern California) is especially suitable for the plant. In a favorable habitat, old trees can form a large dense shade tree. The fig tree, with the water, cools the environment in hot places, creating a fresh and pleasant habitat for many animals that take shelter in its shade in the times of intense heat. These trees’ seeds are often dispersed by birds and mammals that scatter the seeds in droppings.

In the Kitchen

figs are delicious and can be eaten raw or cooked. They are great when baked on pizza or even grilled. figs make great accompaniments to salads, and complement flavors of greens like arugula very well. Other tasty preparations include ones with a little bit of vinegar (e.g. balsamic vinegar). You can also dehydrate your figs via an electric or solar dehydrator for dried figs all year.

Recipes

Fig and Goat Cheese Salad
Fig Tart with Onions, Rosemary and Stilton
Fig, Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Pizza

References and Further Reading

World’s Healthiest Foods: figs
Health Benefits of Dried figs

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Description

strawberry guava is commonly known as Cattley guava, strawberry guava or Cherry guava. It is grown on a small tree with red or yellow edible fruit. It is native to Brazil where it is known as araçá (ara-SAH) and adjacent tropical Uruguay/South America, it is closely related to common guava.

In the Kitchen

The fruit can be eaten whole (seeds included!), since the skin is thin and the interior is juicy and soft. It can also be used to make jam. There are a number of ways to separate the seeds from the pulp. You may try using a strainer, or if you have a juicer, you may try running it through the juicer to separate the pulp and seeds. strawberry guavas taste like a passionfruit mixed with strawberry. The seeds are small and white in color and can be roasted as a substitute for coffee.

Recipes

strawberry guava Juice & Jam recipes

References and Further Reading

All About strawberry guava (in India)

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Description

lemongrass is an herb which is essential to Thai, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Indonesian and other Asian cuisines. lemongrass is said to have many health benefits, and is a medicinal herb in India and Ayurveda, said to help with relieving cough and nasal congestion. lemongrass takes much of the credit for the light and aromatic character of Southeast Asian cooking. It’s prized for lightening meat-laden, oily dishes and strong seafood smells. In additional to it’s culinary uses, the oil of lemongrass is used as a pesticide and a preservative, and research has shown that lemongrass oil has antifungal properties.

In the Kitchen

lemongrass is highly medicinal and great for tea, which is as simple as steeping a few stalks of lemongrass in boiling water for five to 10 minutes. If you’re using lemongrass for other recipes, you can slice it and use it in curries and broths. Alternatively, you can grind the slices using a mortar and pestle or food processor. A microplane zester may also be used to finely grate lemongrass for use in stir-fries or other recipes. Some soup or curry recipes call for bruised rather than minced lemongrass. To bruise, use the back of a knife to press the stalk in several places or bend the stalk until it is fragrant and the oils are released.

Recipes

lemongrass Ginger Shrimp Soup
lemongrass Basil and Honey Iced Tea
Homemade Thai Red, Yellow and Green Curry Paste
lemongrass simple syrup for sodas & drinks
Thai Corn Chowder

References and further reading

Health Benefits of lemongrass

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Description

Organic heirloom tomatoes come from seeds that have been handed down through generations. They come in many varieties. They are much better than the commercially grown tomatoes that you buy at a regular store because receiving them straight from the farm means that most likely they were picked that same day. Those at a conventional market are usually artificially ripened and will not be as flavorful as those that you grow or buy straight from the farm.

Among many other vitamins and minerals, heirloom tomatoes are rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and Vitamin K, and potassium. Tomatoes are known as a good source of lycopene, a type of carotenoid that has many health benefits including prevention of prostate, cervical, breast, lung, and skin cancer. A cooked tomato will have 2-8 times more lycopene than a raw tomato. Organic tomatoes will also have more lycopene. Tomatoes also protect cardiovascular health.

A medium sized heirloom tomato contains 20% of the daily recommended intake of Vitamin A and about 40% of the daily recommended intake of Vitamin C.

In the Kitchen

Tomatoes are very versatile in the kitchen. They can quickly add a boost of flavor to your dishes.

You can enjoy tomatoes cooked or raw. They are great raw when they are added to a salad. You can also add raw tomatoes to a burger or a sandwich. You can stop off an omelet with fresh tomato. You can boil tomatoes for sauces and add some fragrant herbs and spices. You can also roast the tomatoes and make a roasted tomato salsa along with some roasted garlic, onion, and jalapeño.

Suggested Recipes

Tomato Rasam (Indian dish for rice)
Best Gazpacho
Homemade Lactofermented Ketchup

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Description

concord grapes are a cultivar that are often used to make grape jelly, grape juice, grape-flavored soft drinks, and candy. The Concord grape was developed in 1849 by Ephraim Wales Bull in Concord, Massachusetts, where he planted seeds from wild fox grape before finding what he considered the perfect grape, the original vine of which still grows at his former home. Although all grapes have antioxidants, concord grapes have the highest level of antioxidants, namely a high amount of anthocyanins, which have been associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and a number of other common degenerative diseases.

In the Kitchen

The skin of a Concord grape is typically dark blue or purple, and often is covered with a lighter-coloured “bloom,” which protects the grape from moisture loss and decay, but can be easily rubbed off. It is a slip-skin variety, meaning that the skin is easily separated from the fruit. concord grapes have large seeds and are highly aromatic. concord grapes make a great snack and when frozen, are a great addition to your favorite smoothies and juices!

Suggested Recipes

Concord Grape Jelly
Concord Grape Pie

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Description

curry leaves are from the curry tree which is a tropical to sub-tropical tree in the family Rutaceae (the rue family, which includes rue, citrus, and satinwood), which is native to India and Sri Lanka. Its leaves are used in many dishes in India and neighboring countries. Contrary to popular misconception, curry leaves have nothing to do with curry powder, which tends to be a ground up powder with clove, cumin, cinnamon, sometimes curry leaves, etc. That powder is more commonly known in Indian and South Asian cuisine as ‘garam masala.’ curry leaves have antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti inflammatory properties and is thus used widely in Ayurvedic medicines. Intake of curry leaves is said to promote clear and healthy skin, as well as serve as a great digestion aid.

In the Kitchen

Fresh curry leaves can last up to two weeks in the fridge. To make them last longer, air-dry them and store in an airtight container. curry leaves are edible, and while used as a strong flavoring agent, they can be eaten along with the rest of your meal!

Suggested Recipes

curry leaf Rice
Cauliflower in a curry leaf and Coconut Milk Curry

References and Further Reading

Fresh curry leaves add a Touch of India – Collection of Recipes
Glossary of Traditional Indian Cooking with curry leaves