New departures

The Family took the thick stems left over from a batch of Basella alba and stuck them into a pot full of earth. The edible leaves are known as Malabar spinach to vendors in Mumbai, pui shak to Bengalis , mong toi to Vietnamese, remayong to Malays, alugbati to Philippinos, and san choy to Chinese. Now new leaves have begun to sprout on our balcony and we might soon to able to harvest batches for our food. We’ve only tried it with other veggies, though I believe that they taste wonderful cooked with the tiny shrimps that you get in the monsoon.

Someone had dropped some cucumber seeds into a forgotten plant, and we discovered a vine curling out of it today. We have to tease it on to the railing of the balcony now, but I do look forward to harvesting the leaves quite as much as the fruit. In fact I wanted to eat the flowers more than the fruit, but The Family does not agree. Now I realize that I could grow a pumpkin vine. We can get good pumpkin in the market, but I haven’t eaten their flowers for years because you don’t get them in the market. A vine at home will solve that problem. All these leaves can go into salads and soups. I’m looking forward to these new flavours.

By I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.


  1. You can make a nice konkani-style ambat out of malabar spinach. Steam the leaves. For the ‘masala’, freshly grated coconut, tamarind and red chillies ground to a paste. Add it to the steamed leaves and bring it to boil. Salt to taste. Sliced onions in coconut oil or ghee for tadka. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It takes more time than normal spinach, my mum steams it in the cooker (one whistle) – dark green, wilted and soft to touch means the leaves are cooked. Better to discard the water after steaming, the leaves have a slight bitter taste.

        Liked by 1 person

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