I love leafy greens. And why not. Leafy greens are the most nutrient dense food per calorie on the planet. They are alkaline and loaded with minerals (such as calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium etc.) and protein which are present in their bio available to our body. This means all these are very easily absorbed in our body. Be it in juice, chutney, in a salad or sabzi, we have to find a way to get at least 3-4 cups of greens in every day.
Consuming leafy greens during the monsoons however, could be a scary idea since we hear the greens get dirty and contaminated, and are prone to having a lot of germs and bacteria on them. Besides, a lot of our staple leafy greens like spinach and methi are too delicate to survive the torrential Indian monsoon. If grown naturally, they just rot and die (all organic farmers confirm this).
Beware the spinach and fenugreek (which are actually winter greens) that you might be seeing at your sabzi walas these days. They are probably force grown off season with a heavy doze of fertilisers pumped in to make them survive. I don’t like the sound of this at all!
Over the years I have investigated if there are really any leafy greens worth having during the monsoon or not. I really believe, nature knows best. If nature does not provide them during the monsoon, then there’s probably no need for us to have them either.
Over the years, I have been pleasantly surprised with the varieties of greens I have found at farmer’s markets and ‘gouti’ (local) vegetable vendors☺
These monsoon greens with their lovely flavours, packed with immunity building minerals, we can totally have so much fun experimenting with. The fact that they survive the monsoon fury, means they really are resilient and therefore transfer the same qualities to us too! After all ‘we are what we eat’ right ?
I am listing my 6 top greens (along with ways to use them) this monsoon.
1. Sorrel, also known as pitwa in Hindi, ambadi in Marathi and gongura in Telagu– sour, tangy and totally versatile. Can be used to flavour salads, ground into a chutney with a bit of garlic thrown in, can be cooked as a simple sabzi and can even be juiced along with cucumber and long gourd ☺ A little handful can even go into your green smoothie!
(Try out some delicious Green Smoothie recipes here)
2. Cow pea leaf, locally known as Chawli Patta, or ‘hari maat’ is abundantly and easily available. This is lovely to use in salads, lightly saute and sprinkle on chillas (savory pancakes) or dal. Last resort – cook it. Use grated coconut or peanuts for extra crunch.
3. Poi ( Malabar spinach ) is actually a creeper and has these fleshy green leaves and stems. This is popular in the south and East (Bengal). It can be cooked as saag and combined with a variety of gourds (also available during monsoon) or starches, or simply added to dals.
4. Red Amaranth, also known locally as ‘lal maat’ or ‘lal bhaaji’ though technically not green, is a reddish leaf, now available through the year, but is originally grown during monsoon. It is really high in calcium and iron and great to juice, to sprinkle on salads or cook lightly as a sabzi !
5. Colocasia, popularly known as Arbi patta springs up bang in the middle of the monsoon. The Gujratis make a delicious steamed snack called patra with it, while the pahadis often use it to make a saag gravy. An absolute must have during the monsoon.
(Also check out healthy no oil Patod recipe here)
If you cannot find these or run out of these greens, other perennial greens that you can add to up your greens quotient are curry or moringa leaves in the form of chutney or in smoothies. These leaves grow way above the ground, and are sure to be a safe bet during the monsoon!
Tip off : – Make a trip to your local farmer’s market and check out what the farmers are bringing in. Chat with them about how to use it, and do share how you found using leafy greens during the monsoon!