A gardener by nature

This is to announce the appearance of the first capsicum grown in our kitchen garden. It was a verdant green, known to Americans as bell pepper, to North Indians as simla mirch, and we call it dodda mensinkai. This, our very first capsicum, sprouted a few weeks ago. At first, nothing but a pea-sized bud like thing, it was watered, nurtured, the dried leaves around it were removed, the unwanted twigs were pruned and so on and so forth (not by me, but the wife), till it grew to a discernible shape and then flourished.

Till the dodda mensinkai was dodda, enormous, as big as my fist... well, not quite my fist, but the neighbour’s kid’s fist, at least the size of a lemon. Bigger than a marble, anyway. Unceremoniously, it was plucked (not by me but the wife). She held it up by the stem between her thumb and forefinger, dangled it and asked: “What should we do with it?”
“Is it er... edible?” I asked sheepishly.

“Of course it’s edible,” came the indignant reply.

“How about if we eat it?” I put in. “Of course, we’ll eat it. But how do you want it?”
After consulting a cookery book or two, I thought it best if we were to have it as ‘original’ as possible, to savour its texture and firmness and freshness and shimmering green-ness. So I suggested salad. “Let’s not even put any dressing on it, just a salad of some greens, cucumber, tomato and our capsicum, all tossed up.”

At lunch, the bowl of prepared salad, fetched from the fridge, looked appetising and cold in the scorching summer. The utter green of the capsicum dotted the dish so that one was aware of it. It stood on its own despite the bright red of the diced tomato and I rubbed my palms together, curled my tongue over my upper lip, and prepared to tuck it in.

With the first forkful in my mouth, my tongue rolled over the bits to determine the capsicum’s contribution, so I chewed slowly. It had livened up the salad. “The salad couldn’t have tasted this good without our capsicum,” I muttered. I took a second helping and the green bits continued to delight. Then I wondered how in a heaping bowl of salad, it stretched in quantity and pervade through two helpings. “Just that one capsicum stands out, makes a difference, in the feel, the taste…”

“What do you mean just that one?” my wife asked. “Yes, yes, our kitchen garden capsicum,” I clarified.

“You don’t think that teeny weeny single capsicum would be enough for this bowl of salad, do you?”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“I had to put two, proper sized ones, got from the sabziwala, to maintain the proportion in the salad,” she clarified. I crinkled my nose and shrieked, “You diluted my capsicum with some bazaar ones?”

“Now take it easy,” she admonished, “it’s only a little capsicum... and you didn’t water it even once, so it’s not yours at all.”

The great goodness on the palate could not have been from the bazaar ones. It must have been due to what was grown with tender, loving care, right here in our kitchen garden.

And now, there is this potted pomegranate in our kitchen garden, our anar, our dalimbe, already golf ball sized, growing furiously. Excuse me while I look up recipes to use our crop of pomegranate.

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