The summer of mangoes

Hello everyone!   Hope it got cooler in Hyderabad and mango season is in full swing. Even though berries and apricots that I love are in season here in Europe, I realize that nothing compensates for the lack of mangoes. Perhaps a durian fruit would have done it for me but for that Europe is not the place to be. Last week, in a Florence market, I bought some imported mangoes that smelled great but their goodness went only as far as the smell. I apologize for the big mishap with the avocados a couple of weeks ago. It was quite embarrassing that I write all excitedly about how crazy I am about avocados and how I am going to generously share with you! 🙂 What can I say? Such is nature. Also, that is one thing which disappoints me in India – the farmers these days are often ignorant about what they are growing in their own farms and thus also ignorant about how and when to harvest their produce, especially when it is something that they are growing as a cash crop. Perhaps it is just part of their learning curve. It is very sad to see precious food go to waste as the avocados were not left on the tree long enough to properly mature! In fact, it is heart breaking…I have seen vanilla beans being grown in family farms where they bought synthetic vanilla essence for their own baking needs at home! I was not able to send a weekly menu for a couple of weeks as the organic produce was extremely limited in both quantity and variety. That is one of the reasons for giving my lunch staff a week off. Figured I will make the best use of the situation and take a week off for the lunch deliveries. Hope it did not cause much inconvenience to you. Now that it has cooled down and summer is coming to an end, we expect excitement again in our kitchen! Here, I have been overjoyed by all the places I have visited and experienced recently and don’t know where to start to share…last week I wanted to write about one of my favorite place I revisited recently in Tuscany. I will get back to writing about this little charming Tuscan town next week. This week, I’m in Kiev, Ukraine and just got back from a family dinner.It always amazes me how a woman without any helpers can make so many dishes to cover the entire table. It is customary to make large number of dishes for dinner parties. Let me see if I remember…cabbage and cucumber salad, tomato and mozzarella salad, Russian salad, buttered bread with ikra (fish eggs), mackerel, herring, another kind of white fish, two kinds of cured meats, sort of zucchini tempura, fried cauliflower, marinated mushrooms, lettuce rolls filled with cottage cheese, an eggplant dish, a large green salad. I understand that some of these are store bought and served but lots of dishes are still home-made. All this is before the main course! Chicken, two other kinds of roast meats that I am not familiar withJ There was a mushroom casserole for the vegetarians. Oh, I forgot potatoes with large amount of dill…how can I forget that! It was definitely food galore! Poor lady was nervous to feed our picky eating family as none of us eat meat. I have had the most amazing tasting apple juice tonight which was made by the relatives in their dacha. A dacha is a farm house outside the city where they have gardens or farms depending on the size of the dacha. It’s a place to get away from the city for weekends and holidays. That tasty juice, by the way, was just some of the 100 liters of juice made from only 5 trees(after eating all the apples or using apples for tarts and other deserts). They keep it in a special cellar to last for many months and say that no pasteurization or additives are needed. Apparently, apple sauce that is so popular in North America is not a tradition here in the Eastern Europe. I would love to see the process of pressing the apples for juice, but the weather during the fall months here, I believe, is not conducive to my bodily comfort:-) There was another very interesting beverage that I only had a couple of times before called Kvass. This is a fermented drink from rye grains that is traditional in this part of the world. I am sure it is loaded with tons of probiotics! The one that I had today was the best by far. I am hoping to make this drink when I come back to India. In general I am getting prepared to produce at least a few kinds of fermented beverages and foods for their nutritional value and gut health. Eastern Europeans are big on fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir etc that I am looking forward to improving my fermentation techniques from local experts. Thanks to Nobel Prize winner Ilya Metchnikoff for discovering how consuming probiotics, which fermented foods are rich in, can help improve our immunity and longevity. Here’s the menu for June 3rd – June 7th. All the dishes, as usual, are made with fresh organic ingredients! Monday 3rd June Masoor dal salad. One of my all-time-favorite salads. Juicy and satisfying. Masoor dal is very rich in protein, fiber and iron. Using it whole is more nutritious (it’s greenish brown in color when whole). Since there are plenty of flavorful raw mangoes, I am using them instead of lime…This salad comes with a spicy cilantro sauce and crunchy crackers. Can’t imagine a tastier and healthier meal. Hope you enjoy. Tuesday 4th June Pesto salad. Pesto Genovese on steamed young potatoes, carrots and yellow peas. Served with a side of tomato salad. This is a version of one of the most famous Italian dishes, pasta al pesto. Here I am using starchy potatoes in place of pasta! Please forget the common myth about potatoes - they are actually a diet food since 1 full potato is only 110 calories yet very filling and can therefore actually lead to weight loss and/or weight maintenance rather than weight gain. It’s so nutritious, one could almost live on potatoes alone as they provide you with almost every nutri¬ent you need. Really! This includes protein, fiber, and most of the major vitamins and minerals. On the other hand, pasta is made of white flour and has very low nutritive value and unnecessary calories. Wednesday 5th June Asian Cabbage Salad  Green cabbage, red cabbage, carrot, sunflower sprouts, mung bean sprouts and green onion salad with a crispy ginger, lime and sesame dressing topped with crunchy toasted cashews and sesame seeds. Served with wedges of jowar roti and a creamy hot sauce to go with the roti. Don’t be afraid of all the chewing! Thursday 6th June Medittarean vegetable soup meal.  Sprouted chick pea, gourds, tomato, mushrooms and potato stew flavored with young fenugreek leaves. This is a very satisfying stew that is soul nourishing… very comfort food like. Comes with a side of crunchy rosemary crusted jowar crisps and a creamy avocado sauce to pour over the stew. Friday 7th June Raw food “pizza” served with avocado, tomato, cucumber and other crispy vegetable salad. This is typically what I eat to be full when I am eating an all-raw-food meal. This is a common item in the menus of raw food restaurants around the world. Super nutritious meal loaded with enzymes naturally present in the foods aid in easy digestion of this kinds of meals. Bon appetite! Juices each evening are made with various combinations of organic carrots, beets, green mango, cucumbers, dosakais, various greens, ginger etc. Morning smoothies are all made with various difficult-to-obtain organic superfood berries, heart-healthy & protein-rich chia seeds and bananas to give the sweetness as well as the potassium that your body needs to balance out the sodium you eat through salt and other sodium rich foods. *Juices and smoothies are freshly-made and delivered on Saturdays also.

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