Of Amla and the markets

It’s seventeen months since the children last saw their schools and teachers, seventeen months since they interacted with their peers at school. Online school isn’t the same, every child doesn’t get the chance to be seen and heard, which is not an easy thing to reconcile for little children, or big ones for that matter.

It’s also been seventeen months since we were able to walk out and buy our vegetables locally, or pick up our groceries at the local grocer’s. We are scheduled for our second vaccine this week and hopefully that makes it slightly easier to go back to doing more neighborhood things like walking to your favorite local store or vendor. For me the big difference between the locally sourced versus the delivery economy is size of portion. Where locally I could get small portions of vegetables and use them us, it gets harder when we buy online to get things in smaller quantities.

The kitchen especially seems to me to multiply waste during this time. I have never been the most efficient in the kitchen but the last couple of weeks a conscious move to reduce waste has been a fun project. I ordered some amla (gooseberries) last week and instead of the handful I would get I received a whole pack.

I could make the oorga, achhar or pickle but then the kids would have nothing of it so to find a no sun, sweeter version took a while. The amla murabba seemed the perfect candidate.

Boil the amla whole in water, pitt the seeds, take equal measures sugar and water, put them to boil. When the sugar syrup reaches one string consistency put in the boiled amla, cut or whole (whatever you choose).

Now add in black salt, pepper, saffron, cardamom and let it cook till the syrup thickens and the amla is all soft and gooey. There is your amla murraba. I have stored it in a glass jar in the fridge because nothing, I mean nothing, escapes the mumbai monsoon unscathed. the fungi are everywhere.

We seem to have adapted to this way of living, some of the businesses that came to prominence driven by the pandemic related delivery models have even found spots on our bourses. In the long haul will I choose to keep getting things home? Would I rather stay home and buy on my phone? Having considered how well I know the people who chatted with me while I bought vegetables, how I knew when they had bad days or good days, when they had visitors and how they always asked after my parents or my kids when we bought from them. I do not imagine I’d like to continue to have these things delivered home.

Will I and the family continue to mask up and stay distant for a long time to come but as far as my purchase behaviour goes I think I’d head out to my nearest local grocer and market as soon as I can. Not to mention how much waste I’d be eliminating and the plastic that wouldn’t come into my home.

Amla murabba not withstanding I’d like my smaller portions of vegetables and seasonal produce again.

Some of my favorite brands for eco friendly veggie shopping and storing bags are –




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