Happy New Year and some Keralan Veg!

Happy New Year! Here’s to hoping that 2013 is a perfect year for growing!

We’ve just got back from an amazing holiday in Kerala in southern India. India is such a vibrant and colourful country that it’s been hard to settle back to life in the UK again in grey, cold and wet January!

But enough of that, we were on a bit of a mission whilst on holiday to see what vegetables are grown and eaten in Kerala compared to here in the UK. Most Keralans are vegetarian so they eat a huge range of fruit and vegetables, often in curries of one form or another.

Fruit and veg are so readily available in India; every shop on every street from a small village to a big city sells them, its certainly different to the supermarkets here in the UK!

So whilst out and about, we spotted lots of fruit and veggies that we’re all familiar with here in the UK, but we were also curious to see lots of varieties that we just don’t get here. We saw lots of okra (also known as ladies fingers or bhindi), bitter melon (also known as bitter gourd or bitter squash) and ridge gourd (also known as luffa).

Spices also obviously feature a lot in Keralan cuisine and Kerala is the main region for spice cultivation and export in India. We saw lots of huge sacks of spices for sale almost everywhere. The spices for sale included coriander seeds, black tamarind, whole dried turmeric, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, cinnamon, black peppercorns, star anise, normal ‘hot red’ chillies, Kashmiris chillies and lots and lots of curry leaves, to name but a few! Steve got particularly excited at this and we had to buy an extra bag whilst out there in order to make space in his suitcase for all the spices we’ve bought back with us.

We also came across a vegetable seed merchant on the street in the city of Kannur. He was selling a huge range of seeds ranging from the usual varieties we’re familiar with over here, to plenty of exotic looking varieties that we’d stand no chance of growing on our allotment. I had to stop Steve from buying packs of bitter melon seeds; as the chances are they won’t grow well over here and we’ve got a lot more to learn about growing normal veg before we start trying the weird and the wonderful exotic varieties!

Seeing all these wonderful vegetables has definitely inspired us for the new season ahead. Since we’ve been back we’ve sown indoors into small pots some chillies and peppers (including varieties such as ‘Bulgarian Carrot’, ‘Californian Wonder’, ‘Habanero Orange’, ‘Jalapeno’ and ‘Tepin’). We haven’t had much luck with chilli’s and peppers before so fingers crossed that they germinate!

This weekend, weather permitting (I believe snow is due, I wish I was back in Kerala now!) we are planning on building and installing the last of our raised beds for the allotment. We’ve got lots of broad beans (‘Aquadulce Claudia’) to transplant soon that have germinated really well in our outside cold-frame that need to go out into this raised bed. I think we’ll also sow some peas into the raised beds too; do any of you experts have any recommendations on the varieties we should sow at this time of year?

 

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One Response to “Happy New Year and some Keralan Veg!”

  • Helen Fowler:

    I envy you been able to buy all those spices. Your chilli seeds can take a few weeks to germinate, my first have come through in just over 2 weeks. I can recommend the pea Douce Provence from Seedparade.

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