I had entered the kitchen on my first morning in my new home and had gone about exploring how it was going to be in a south indian household. Amongst the many things that surprised me, one of the first had been the really huge, high container filled with whole red chillis. “Are we going to be able to use all of this?!” I had asked. My mother-in-law had explained that those were for the pickles. After all, there were going to be hundreds of mangoes from our own trees and we would need the chillis. It was the season of pickles. The kitchen was filled with red chillis and the markets in the city were filled with sacks and sacks of red chilli. In our home in Bombay, we had always bought only a few hundred grams of red chilli powder at a time. These were whole red chillis and so many of them for one kitchen!
This is the hottest time of the year. It is also the time of the year when every bazaar in every village, town or city has plentiful of mangoes. There are the ripe, sweet mangoes which you eat sometimes one mango per person at every meal. At least that is how it was at my in-laws place. There are the raw mangoes which come earlier, in end April, for making the several varieties of mango pickle for the entire family for the entire year. Its mostly women vendors who cut them for you at the marketplace itself. You carry back bagfuls of the cut mango and thereon starts the ritual of pickle-making.
Just a week ago I was in Bombay and had strolled into the Crawford market near the Victoria Terminus station. This is the best place to buy any fruit. Its expensive though, but “export quality” as any vendor will tell you. The big players at Crawford market are really busy in summer time.
If you go further into the market a bit, beyond the main building, where the market extends to the areas shaded by the sheds, you see the back-end operations. There are groups of young men who are speedily packing mangoes in corrugated cardboard boxes and the litchis and apricots in clean plastic trays and wrapping it up with plastic cling film. These will be taken to the supermarkets all over the city.
I wrote this blogpost after a fascinating 'Green Heritage walk' that we took at Lalbaug gardens. Here is a link to : Design Inspiration at Lalbaug gardens where I write more about the Nature walk.