A Journey Through The Life Of A Pumpkin Plant In The Desert Land

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And how did it end on the Breakfast table!

The Kingdom of Bahrain may not be considered as a desert land today with so much greenery found around this island kingdom. What is amazing is the ability of the soil to sustain its fruitfulness despite the extreme summer and sparse rainfall. While the effort of the administration to maintain the ecological balance with the concretization of the land is to be commended, it is also the desire of people coming from green-lands (such as India) to maintain some sort of ecological balance around them that keeps it going.

Pumpkin flowers co-exist with tiny toms

Easier said than done. Many people leave their homeland, and come to the Arabian Gulf in search of the ‘Greenbacks’ than the greener pastures. What I am trying to state here, is literally, the last on the minds of a person leaving India for employment in the Gulf is the natural vegetation in the place where they are going to work and live. Further more, living in flats takes away whatever desire one had to have some greenery around.

In this background, I cherished the moment when we moved to an independent house, from a flat, sometime back. Perhaps the farmer blood that we Mangaloreans must be living on, the gardener spirit in me or the sheer desire to get some oxygen in the oil filled desert land, started working on me. From then on, I have tried a variety of things in the small garden space adjacent to my house.

Plucked flowers(L); You may see a tiny raw ‘dudhin’ wrongly plucked along with the flowers.(R)

Early on, we had to do a lot of hard work. The family that was living in the house earlier did not seem to be interested in maintaining any sort of vegetation around. The task of improving the quality of soil took sometime. I was not an expert to know the right mix of soil, fertilizer and all the other stuff that you use to grow and sustain plants.

Many a times it amazes many when the greenery in the desert land is mentioned. Some of the countries have scope for greenery, as Ned D Cunha proved in Abu Dhabi and a farmer recently succeeded in growing paddy in the UAE sandy fields.

This year was special. Perhaps the combined effort of 4 years started yielding results this year. Apart from the tomato plants that I normally grow, I sowed Sweet-pumpkin, Watermelon and sweet-gourd seeds. While the Sweet pumpkin plant grew well and wild, that must have hindered the growth of the other two. However, an ornamental banana plant (grown 2 feet in 4 years), a rare coconut plant and a rich-in-fruit Pomegranate plant give good company to these creepers.

Wow, what a sight ? especially since it is not in the greener lands back home

The biggest benefit of the plants was of course the greenery that would send joyful feelings up and down the brain cells. One big puff of oxygen before going to work would provide me the energy for the day. On the side of it, these plants (mainly tomatoes and sweet pumpkin) also yielded fruit, though were just sufficient for ourselves. Tomatoes were many, good to be distributed to a few of our close friends, but the pumpkins were very few. The best of all, of course, was the flowers, that helped us to venture into the exotic recipe, the sweet-pumpkin flower chutney. A visit for my mother-in-law perhaps made her feel at home and provided me an opportunity to relish a special dish out of these flowers. Yes, enjoyed these flowers to the maximum, for so many breakfasts, in the form of a special chutney.

Well, if you can lay your hands on at least few of these flowers (especially those who are back home right now), why don?t you attempt a special, high-health-value Chutney of its flowers?

(Any experts, to provide some details on the nutritious value of these flowers please? I know they have high nutritional/medicinal value)

Now don?t tell me that your mouth watered!

Dudhya-fulachi chutney (Sweet-pumpkin flower sauce):
Recipe courtesy: Wilma Pereira

Ingredients: 10 to 15 pumpkin flowers, ? coconut (grated), 1 medium sized onion, 2-3 red dry chillies, little tamarind and salt as per taste.

Prepare the flowers: Remove stem, stepal etc from the flowers, wash and squeeze water out of the flowers and retain dry petals only. [Note: the stem of the flowers, after removing its rind, can be mixed with any other vegetable for curry or dry dish]

Grind all the ingredients and the flowers, to a fine paste and season it with mustard seeds, curry leaves and 2-3 flakes of garlic. A thick Chutney is ready. Apart from its high health and nutritious value, it?s a great combination when you have it with ‘sannas’ (idli) or ‘polle’ (dosas) [see picture].


Author: Agnel Pereira- Bahrain

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