‘Grass’ is also used in food, know its taste and how beneficial it is?

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A story heard in childhood and read later often comes to mind. After the Battle of Haldi Valley, Maharana Pratap lived with the forest dwellers Bhils for a long time. At the same time, his daughter Ladli Rajkumari was forced to eat roti made of grass. When a dog snatched this bread from his hand, the father’s heart broke. For a moment, he felt that a compromise should be made with the Mughal emperor. The story is long, Maharana continued his struggle and never bowed down. However, from this context, it is revealed that how grass and straw fill nutritious elements and flavors in the food of the tribal children of the forest.

A Rajasthani tribal friend of ours had explained to us a few years ago that the Alfa-Alfa grass growing in the moist districts of Rajasthan is a treasure trove of nutrients, and adding it to cattle feed would increase their milk flow. Yes, it also makes its taste enticing. Many rotis can be made or made from this grass, he had no idea about it. Botanists are of the opinion that many grains which are an integral part of our food, were wild grasses thousands of years ago. Later, when our forefathers started farming, they made them ‘domesticated’. Many species of rice and sorghum, barley, and many shri-annas (millets) are also classified along with grasses.

Leaving aside the matter of grains, there are many grasses which make our food fragrant and tasty too. The first of these comes to mind is poppy seed, which is called vetiver in English. Its effect is cool and in summer its sherbet cools the body and mind with light natural greenery. Something similar can also be said about Kevda, which is called screw pine in English. The fragrance of Kewda is much stronger than poppy seeds and the natural color is light yellow. Kewra water is used in both salty and sweet dishes. Seaweed is used in many ways in Japanese cuisine. The sushi which is made from thick and small grain sticky rice is all amazing in it. Like the mythical fish Ganga, the smell of sea fish and the taste of salt water remains in it.

The cooks of Awadh used to protect the secrecy of their spices no less strictly than any strategic secret. Mohammad Farooq’s family is famous for its kormas and kebabs for more than a hundred years. It was Farooq Bhai who introduced us to Jarakush. It is also a grass to see, whose dried straws are used. It is mentioned in the texts of Ayurveda by the name of Jwarankush. As the name explains, its effect is fever-relieving, heat-relieving and thirst-relieving. Most of the herbs that are used in western food are grasses only – Rosemary, Oregano, Talegon, Thyme etc. Nowadays, the Italian seasoning which is given with pizza, has introduced them to Indians as well. Research is going on about the taste-aroma and nutritional elements of grass.

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