I miss winters and being in Mumbai the only way I feel close to my favourite season is by visiting the vegetable market. All the greens call out to me from the carts and baskets and I feel like – I say this quite often – a cow or a goat. For a household of two people, I end up buying vegetables for an entire village. This season, apart from the regular sarson, bathua and spinach, I ODed on green or spring garlic also known as leela lasan.
Green garlic is actually young garlic which is harvested before the cloves begin to mature. It looks like a clove of garlic with long, bright green stalk and a bunch of white hair on top. Another variation, which looks more like a green onion is harvested before the plant starts to mature. The second kind is something I’ve grown up eating in the north, but the first kind is something I came across in Mumbai. The flavour of this green garlic is closer to that of mature garlic, but is much milder. It’s used widely by various communities in western India and I’ve been told that the Gujaratis and Parsis get particularly excited by this vegetable.
A few days ago I did a bit of research on the regional recipes with green garlic and found quite a few interesting uses for this winter wonder. The most well-known dish is the Gujarati undhiyu – slow cooked dish that uses a mix of winter vegetables. Then there’s simple chopped green garlic fried in ghee and eaten with thepla. Sindhis wait for entire year for this seasonal crop to make their favourite doda – jowar flour parantha with chopped green garlic in it. Food writer/blogger Ankiet Gulabani shared a Sindhi carrot and green garlic bhaji recipe which I tried, simple and full of flavours – you can check out the recipe here. A baingan bharta recipe made in the Jalgaon district of Maharashtra uses both spring garlic as well as onion. Thalipeeth – a Maharashtrian flatbread made with a mix of flours rises up a few notches in flavours with green garlic added to the dough.
North has its own bunch of recipes using green garlic. Last year at a Garhwali food pop-up hosted by Rushina (of APB Cook Studio) I had sesame broth which was flavoured with lehsun ka namak – dry chutney made with salt, green garlic and green chillies. In Bihar, green peas are stir fried with onions, green chillies and stalk of green garlic to make a winter snack. Desi tamatar (tomato) and green garlic subzi is a favourite in UP. The most interesting recipe was of a laddoo – shared by a friend on Facebook – of bajra flour, ghee, green garlic and salt. Amrita (of Life Ki Recipe) took a desi twist on hummus and made a green peas and green garlic hummus. Do try it!
And then there are Bohris and Parsis who love this ingredient. Bohris make lasan baida keema which is keema covered with chopped green garlic with eggs cracked over it and cooked slowly. The Parsi dish is quite similar to the Bohri one but minus the keema. While discussing the recipes on Facebook I was invited by the awesome Kurush and Rhea Dalal over to their place for breakfast. So next day, early morning I was heading to the Dalal house in Kharghar for a breakfast of leela lasan, leelo kando ne kothmir per eeda. It was simple dish of eggs on a bed of winter greens with fresh and robust flavours.
Leela Lasan, Leelo Kando ne Kothmir per Eedu
Green garlic – 2-3 bunches
Green onion – 2 bunches
Green coriander – 1/d a bunch
Eggs – 4
Red chilli powder – a pinch
Salt to taste
Heat oil in a pan and sauté chopped green onions for 2-3 minutes. Throw in green garlic and coriander and add salt; sautee for another 5 minutes. Now make 4 depressions in the greens and break an egg in each one. Make sure that the yolk stays intact. Cover and cook till the whites are cooked through and yolk stays runny. Season with salt and chilli powder and eat with pav or bread.