Soul Cocina

Eco Chef Roger Feely

Bhajiwalla

In Dona Paula, Goa, we have so many fruit and vegetable stalls within walking distance of where we live. There is a lady who sells coconuts under a tree by the round-a-bout where the rickshaws and motorbike taxis hang out. She usually has a palm branch that she hangs from the tree that has fresh young coconuts still connected to the branch. She cuts the top off and gives you a straw. After you drink all the "nectar of the Goan Gods", she cuts off a part of the coconut shell with her big machete and you use the shell as a spoon to scoop out the remaining coconut flesh. There are stalls on the roadside that sell amarinth (tambdi bhaji, my favorite), okra (bhindi, ladyfingers), green chilies, cauliflour, tomatoes... all grown in the valley behind our house in beautiful Teligao (the best place to take a ride on the motor scooter through the colorful amarinth, radish, coriander, and watermellon fields, then further on through the rice paddies)The roadsides stalls sell all this and more like papaya, bananas, spinach... Then the bigger markets, sell casava, pumpkin, goards, gooseberries, kokum, tamarind, .... But our favorite way to shop is from our local Bhaji Wala or as we call her "the vegetable lady". For a few rupees more, instead of going out to pick up groceries, the vegetable lady would bring us the daily farmer's special. Always super fresh. And we can place special orders too. We always asked for green plantains and special ingredients from time to time. She always came through. If we were not home, she would leave our produce wrapped in newspaper (like most everything in India, wrapped in newspaper) and we would pay her later. One day we asked her if she had any curry leaves... she walked across the field to the fancy house where the watchman keeps everyone up all night long until dawn with his baton stick that he bangs on the cement and whith his whistle that he blows like a sambista durring carnaval in Rio... and she snips a branch off of the tree and brings it back to us... fresh curry leaves. Desiree took these pictures of her friend the "vegetable lady".

Tune: Beaqtwalla Vegetarian Mix 2004