A handy tool for foragers and highly-stressed professionals, ecologist Nina Sengupta’s debut book will see you whipping out both pan and colouring kit
Have you ever thought about the abundant weeds growing in your backyard and if they exist for a reason? To answer this question, Dr Nina Sengupta, who has a PhD focussing on rainforest and natural habitat conservation, foraged through acres of greenland in Auroville with a trained eye. Her findings paved the way for an insatiable desire to share this knowledge in a unique manner—a book that doubles up as a stress-busting colouring-in journal for adults. Sengupta elaborates, “Edible Weeds and Naturally Growing Plants in Auroville—A Colouring Book Series is a book which illustrates 40 species of plants, mostly found across India, that could enrich the palate. In the form of a colouring-in book, it comes complete with an insert of colour and an information guide that adults can relax over while learning all about it.”
With a page dedicated for every plant species, the information includes edible portions and valuable tips on its usage and inclusion in your daily meal. “For instance, although manathakaali greens is easily available in most city stores, only a few would know that its fruit pods are poisonous when raw and highly medicinal, edible and delicious when ripe. Tips will also include whether each edible portion tastes best when roasted, ground or eaten as is.”
The powerhouse of information is presented in a manner that is bound to tap the creative craze, with a provision to colour the black-and-white line drawings of each illustrated plant. This fun element of communication, although a brand new concept in India, is a best-selling genre in the UK, Spain, Brazil and beyond. It is considered therapeutic and recommended by neurologists as an effective antidote to stress and anxiety for time-strapped professionals. “While my personal perspective was to introduce serious information as a light and easy read—which is proven to register longer in the minds of the reader—I am excited about the plethora of avenues where this book may become an educational tool, from teaching to foraging interests for chefs/cooks and much more,” beams Sengupta.
The name game
♦ Coral vine (Kodi-rose): An ornamental hedge plant, its flowers can be eaten raw in salads or as flower tea; its leaves are best batter-fried; and its seeds, as flour (once roasted, winnowed and ground).
♦ Slender joyweed: A cousin of the common ponnagani, its leaves can be cooked with lentils or eaten raw.
♦ Gorakhbuti (Sirru-pulay): Its leaves and young stems are edible, and make a great substitute for spinach.
♦ Shiny bush (mashitandu chedi): Belonging to the betel leaf family, it adds a spicy undertone and crunch in salads. Try cooking as leaf tea or as a pot herb.
The book is available at Freeland Book Store, Auroville, Rs.365. Details: firstname.lastname@example.org
— Preeti GT