One of the plants that grows easily in my balcony farm ;) braving limitation like lack of sunlight and pigeon menace is Pirandai, a highly wonderful medicinal and native food plant. It is a creeper and easily grows in pots even with less soil and nutrition but its medicinal benefits are immense. Called veldt grape in english and since it is good for treating in fractures ,sprains and for bone health in Siddha medicine, it is also called Devil's back bone and Hadjod in Hindi. Many of my friends in my gardening group call it orthopaedic doctor:)
I remember my grandfather making a thogaiyal( chutney) out of this especially on special ocassions when he would take charge of sourcing vegetables, chopping and helping my grandmom and mom in kitchen chores. It was then available in local markets. He would personally supervise during family lunch that everyone ate atleast a morsel of thogaiyal mixed with hot rice and ghee. Pirandai was considered best medicinal food that helped prevent and cure many disorders like intestinal, gastric, menstrual and treating ear ache, ulcers, sprains,Osteoporosis, regulating cholestorol and it is was also supposed to be an appetizer.
Not easily available in our local markets anymore, i grew this more for nostalgia and the creeper also has an ornamental look with its tendrils, nodes, less foliage and lengthy stems. Today morning, I decided to break the tender pirandai and make a thogaiyal out of it and also bracing up for a war on the dining table with my teens.
Traditional and local vegetables and some forages which easily grow in our climate and have immense health benefits were a part of daily diet in our elders lives. Most of it has been diluted or lost with time. If we don't safeguard or spread knowledge about the heritage and native nutrition, the value of these and our traditional vegetables will not move beyond our village markets. Unless money can be made from local vegetable and millet production they will disappear and so will our traditional native cuisine. We will lose them to the zucchinis, bokchoy and quinoas .As it is, we only find such english and foreign vegetables in the market today.
Today's inspiration: the long slender pirandai