Before it becomes ‘food’- Food as plants

April 18, 2017

Ever wondered how, what we see in our plates at lunchtime, looks like before it reaches its final destination? Or how, the food we know to be a tuber, powder, or clove appears as a plant? I recently discovered that the kadi patta bush bears flowers too, making it look like an ornamental shrub-tree.

Here’s a list of food items, grown on our farm and also found regularly on our plates. This is how it looks when not in our plate or in food, but instead rooted to the soil.

Aloo/Potato/Potahtoes

Probably one of the most commonly used food items all over the world, we have colonialism to thank for its omnipresence, and urban industrialisation for our ignorance. Before we use the root of the plant to consume it, this is how it looks- like a plant, with flowers.

Lassan/Garlic

Mostly recognised as the white clove lying in the same basket as ginger and potato, our second sturdy food companion happens to look like this, when a plant. Knotting up the plant helps to prevent the roots from drying up. It also assures big sized cloves, its believed. Garlic leaves can be used as substitutes for the clove too- they carry the same flavour.

Kadi patta/Curry leaves

Found in most Indian dishes, as much as onion and garlic perhaps, kadi patta leaves have more use than just in traditional cooking. The plant, doesn’t just bear leaves but also flowers. While most are familiar with the plant, here’s how it looks with flowers.

Karela/Bitter gourd

Karela, the green coloured vegetable detested by most but also loved by many, grows on a creeper plant. The flower of the plant turns to fruit (read-vegetable). This is how it looks.

Haldi/Turmeric

Finally, there is that one masala we’re all too familiar with. Powder responsible for colouring our food yellow- turmeric!
The plant looks like a long leafed grass. Here’s how the tuber looks before it’s dried and ground to reach our masala boxes. Kinda like ginger eh? Yup it is easy to confuse the two for sure.

These are just 5 out of the many plants consumed as fruit or tubers, all over the world. While we will still continue to consume selected parts of every plant-like the roots of a potato plant- it always helps to know where our food comes from or, how it looks while its growing.