Don’t care a fig? You should : The Tribune India

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Don’t care a fig? You should

Don’t care a fig? You should

Fegri pickle



Tara Devi Sen

MANY species of fig grow in abundance in the wild. However, except for a couple of species, fruits of these plants are not used extensively. Their use is almost negligible in culinary dishes, except by either foragers, or those who eat figs due to the fruit’s medicinal properties or want to add variety to their food plate.

In recent years, some self-help groups have been working to create awareness about these wild species. One such activist and produce seller, Sneha Sharma, has been informing people about the potential of wild food plants, helping change perspectives about figs. As a consequence, there has been a steady demand for edible figs, both raw and processed, at various state and national-level exhibitions, fairs and festivals. Ripe figs are usually eaten fresh while young fruits are used in pickles, vegetables, etc.

There are at least six wild edible varieties found in the mid-hill zone of north-western Himalayas, though only one variety called fegri is relished. It is a seasonal delicacy and is eaten both raw and cooked as a vegetable, pickle, pudding, jam, etc. Local people use fegri fruits as a native remedy to cure digestive issues. Young fruits are harvested for cooking or pickling and are available in local markets around Holi. Ripe fruits are a great addition to desserts and puddings.

There are other species like hairy fig (debre), elephant ear fig (taryambal), Indian fig (umre), wedge leaf fig (bhui umre) and willow leaf fig (dudhilo), but these are not much popular.

Figs are rich in vitamins A and C and minerals like potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, zinc, etc. Being potassium-rich, they are beneficial for those having high blood pressure.

Boiled and mashed tender figs or fig fruits with added spices make for a tasty stuffing for parantha, kachori, siddu, etc. Young fruits should be preferred as mature figs may contain insect pollinators. Tender leaves of some fig varieties like taryambal and umre can be used to prepare traditional recipes like patrodu, pakora and chilla (kachru) with besan and spices.


Fegri pickle

Ingredients

Fegri fruits 1 kg

Mustard oil 100 ml

Onion seeds (kalonji) 1 tbsp

Hing A pinch

Fenugreek seeds 11/2 tbsp

Cumin seeds 1 tbsp

Turmeric powder 1 tbsp

Red chilli powder 1 1/2 tbsp

Sweet fennel 1 tbsp

Any souring agent 2 tbsp

(Galgal juice/rai powder/vinegar)

Salt To taste

Method

Wash and boil fruits for five to seven minutes. Dry in sunlight. Sauté all spices on a low flame and coarsely grind in a mixer. In a large pan, mix fegri, ground spices and salt with mustard oil. Mix well and add some souring agent. Store in a ceramic jar. Pickle will be ready in week or 10 days. It can be stored for up to a year.


Fegri vegetable

Ingredients

Fegri fruits 1 kg

Mustard oil 3-4 tbsp

Coriander powder ½ tsp

Fenugreek powder 1 tsp

Cumin seeds 1 tsp

Turmeric powder 1 tsp

Red chillies 2-4

Medium-sized

onion (chopped) 1

Garlic cloves (chopped) 4-5

Salt To taste

Anardana/amchoor 1 tsp

Method

Boil fruits in water for 15 minutes. Squeeze to drain out excess water. Sauté in oil with spices. Add anardana/amchoor/curd in the end before serving.


Taryambal vegetable

Ingredients

Taryambal fruits (cut into four pieces) 1 kg

Spinach or other seasonal greens 250 g

Mustard oil 3-4 tbsp

Coriander powder ½ tsp

Fenugreek powder 1 tsp

Cumin seeds 1 tsp

Turmeric powder 1 tsp

Red chillies 2-4

Onion (chopped) 1

Garlic cloves (chopped) 4-5

Tomato puree 3 cup

Salt To taste

Method

Boil both fruits and leaves separately till soft. Grind leaves in a mixer. Sauté fruits in hot oil with spices. Cook for 5 minutes. Add ground leaves, cook for another 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle garam masala and garnish with coriander leaves. Serve with rice or chappati.

— The writer teaches at Vallabh Government College, Mandi


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