These ingredients are available in Goa only during the monsoons

Not only are seasonal wild greens easily available in Goa, but they are also used to prepare delicious dishes
NUTTY GREENS: When added to curries, 'ghodka' or 'bibayo' impart a nutty flavour, similar to that of tender cashewnuts.
NUTTY GREENS: When added to curries, 'ghodka' or 'bibayo' impart a nutty flavour, similar to that of tender cashewnuts. Photo: Arti Das

It’s that time of the year again, when our social media feed gets flooded with images of traditional delicacies made from local seasonal ingredients. These are the humble greens, easily found in our backyards and open spaces in Goa.

Foraging these ingredients may be a trendy thing for today’s urban dwellers, but for locals, it is a way of life.

These greens are hyperlocal as they are available only for a few days in a year, and need to be consumed at this time of the year.

NUTTY GREENS: When added to curries, 'ghodka' or 'bibayo' impart a nutty flavour, similar to that of tender cashewnuts.
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MONSOON SPECIALS

During this time, especially during these early monsoon months, locals from Goan villages source their food from wild spaces. These vegetables are rich in antioxidants, zinc and fiber, and should be consumed at least once a year.

These include a variety of greens like the tender leaves of taikilo (Cassia tora) which are easily found on roadsides.

ROADSIDE FARE: In Goa, the tender 'taikilo' plant is a common sight along roadsides during the monsoons.
ROADSIDE FARE: In Goa, the tender 'taikilo' plant is a common sight along roadsides during the monsoons.Photo: Arti Das

The tender leaves of the drumstick tree, known as kisra, are also widely eaten. Other greens, like kuddukechi bhaji, chanyecho detho and the tender leaves of tero (Colocasia esculenta), are commonly seen all around Goa, in open spaces.

Another wild plant which is consumed is akur (Acrostichum aureum), whose tender stems are harvested. Akur is found in marshy and mangrove areas as it is a mangrove fern.

NUTTY GREENS: When added to curries, 'ghodka' or 'bibayo' impart a nutty flavour, similar to that of tender cashewnuts.
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During the monsoons, paddy fields are also a place to find some wild varieties of vegetables, such as golchi bhaji, katle bhaji, etc.

Shirmundli is one of those wild greens which is not familiar to most Goans. It is a wild creeper found in forested areas, bearing tender leaves which are edible like a veggie.

The flowers and tender leaves of certain species of yams are eaten in some parts of Goa. For example, the tender leaves of the wild variety of suran, or elephant foot yam (Amorphophallus paeoniifolius), known as luti. However, its leaves are harvested when they are in a bud-like form, while its tuber is not eaten.

MONSOON SHOOTS: 
Tender bamboo shoots are another monsoon veggie of Goa.
MONSOON SHOOTS: Tender bamboo shoots are another monsoon veggie of Goa. Photo: Arti Das

FLOWER IN THE SHOWER

Then there is the dragon stalk yam or shevla (Amorphophallus commutatus), where the stalks of the flower are cooked and eaten.

However, it is eaten mainly in tribal parts of Maharashtra as it blooms just when monsoon begins. This flower is also commonly seen in Goa’s forested areas.

NUTTY GREENS: When added to curries, 'ghodka' or 'bibayo' impart a nutty flavour, similar to that of tender cashewnuts.
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In Goa, at the start of the monsoons, you’ll also find some interesting plants like kille (tender bamboo shoots) and ghodka or bibayo. Ghodka are germinated cashewnut cotyledons (the embryonic first leaves of a seedling).

They are usually added to curries to give that nutty flavour, which is similar to that of a tender cashewnut. They are often eaten raw like a snack.

FOR SALE: Seasonal greens  are sold in local markets at this time of the year.
FOR SALE: Seasonal greens are sold in local markets at this time of the year.Photo: Arti Das

NEED TO KNOW

Since most of these ingredients are wild in nature, care has to be taken while harvesting and cooking them.

Some of these vegetables, such as the dragon stalk yam, are toxic in nature. It can result in an itching sensation in throat if not cooked properly.

Similar is the case while cooking the leaves of colocasia.

NUTTY GREENS: When added to curries, 'ghodka' or 'bibayo' impart a nutty flavour, similar to that of tender cashewnuts.
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So, it is best to consult experts, or locals, who have been cooking these vegetables for generations.

And, lastly, one has to keep in mind that these edible greens are mainly found in our backyards and open wild spaces, thus we need to keep these areas clean, and most importantly, conserve these spaces as they are the source of our food and water.

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