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Homey Gardening


Natural Insecticide Sprays for Your Organic Garden

Ricardo ElisiárioBugs and diseases can be a recurring problem in our gardens, especially during spring and summer, when the weather helps their proliferation.

An infested plant is a debilitated one and as much as we try to satisfy their requirements on soil, light and water, having a fertile foundation to grow on isn’t always enough to counteract the impact some insects can have on our garden patch.

My proposal is that, first, you work with these ecological remedies and even use your own fingers to pinch those attackers, to see if any of these methods will do the trick. However, sometimes, when the plague’s incidence is too high, you might have to find other, more effective phytopharmaceutical products that are able to solve such nuisances.

For now, let’s not focus on the worst possible scenario. So here are some great tactics that every resourceful grower can employ whenever they need to rescue their crops and flowers.

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Soap & Oil Spray

Detergents are a common component in homemade, sprayable insecticides. Their amphiphilic properties allow for a more thorough mixture of every single ingredient used in the final concoction, especially when there’s oil in the mix because for this recipe, as for any of the following, water is always the substance in bigger proportion, by far.

Keep that in mind, since the amount of solubles themselves are not really worth measuring (or at least I do not) if only we have the good sense to gauge the composition of whatever mixture we’re creating.

In this solution, not only is the soap somewhat toxic but the oil will also clog the many respiratory cavities insects have all over their bodies. Now, whether it’s the detergent’s toxicity or the smothering oil that kills them first, we can’t really tell, but their combination is way more effective than plain water.

Neem Oil Spray

This oil, extracted from the tree’s seeds, will do the same service of suffocating the critters as other commonplace oils. The bonus is that these seeds contain a small fraction of chemical constituents that disrupt the insects’ normal growth and moulting process, making it even more lethal. It is however not this harmful to mammals, like ourselves, so you are free to handle it without any particular care.

Here too, let’s not forget to add a share of soap to the blend, otherwise, oil and water will be hating one another like always and we won’t be able to create this insecticide.

One thing to keep in mind is that oils and soaps might have some unexpected secondary effects on plants if you exaggerate how much you’re adding. Thus, being consciously observant during the aftermath of every product application is fundamental, so much so that if you happen to recognize drooping or any other hints of an ongoing discomfort caused by the remedy, then be sure to wash it out with running water — a sprinkler would do — because anyway, after several hours or a couple of days at most, the treatment will have fulfilled its purpose.

Garlic & Onion Spray

Between one and the other, which would you rather take a bite of?

A difficult choice, yet you have the free will to choose to walk away and bite none, a right that the poor bugs aren’t granted, hence the aggressiveness of this spray potion.

The sulphur-containing compounds present in both these veggies are very powerful when it comes to making even the toughest tear up a little, so macerate a handful of them and add water. Then filter the resultant solution and squeeze away at the spray bottle, being careful not to pump it against the wind or you’ll feel sorrier than the insects you were aiming to extinguish — oh and they’re so much tougher than us!

Nettle Spray

The only downside of using nettles is their seasonality, but at least from late winter to the end of spring, you’ll possibly find them right in your backyard or somewhere nearby on an abandoned patch of land. When plucking these weeds, be methodical and avoid touching the inferior page of its leaves to avoid the stings.

On breaking, the tiny needles expel acid that reacts with our skin, causing that well-known and fortunately temporary sensation of burn. This same formic acid is what will attack the plagues you intend to fight off, so the best practice to obtain the acidic extract is to mash the leaves together and leave them to ferment, submerged inside a bucket of water.

A couple of weeks later, retrieve the powerful green juice and dispose of the vegetable remains. Bottle it up and it’s ready to be applied.

Tomato Leaf Spray

Here’s another case of seasonal species, at least if we rely on those grown locally, but the good thing is that you don’t even need to use green and healthy tomato leaves for this spray. Collect older ones from the lower end of the plant and, following the same procedure indicated for the nettles, you’ll soon be using tomato plants to cure... tomato plants and every other vegetable crop or ornamental that is affected by aphids.

Using the power of some poisonous alkaloids present in the leaves of these plants belonging to the nightshade family (such as the potato, eggplant and chilli pepper), we can kill such parasites and prevent many viral diseases for which they are vectors.

Chilli Pepper Spray

Speaking of chilli, these spicy peppers own their place on this list as they repel not only insects but also larger invaders like rats, birds and even humans, if you don’t remember to wash your hands after patting your beloved plants or before cooking those fresh veggies that you happened to have sprinkled too.

Apart from that, you’re free to add the usual oil, water and a few cloves of garlic to give this insecticide a tad more punch. Then blend it, strain the amalgam to prevent your spray bottle from clogging and feel inspired to drop it like fiery rain.

Baking Soda Spray

In the event that a garden is suffering at the jowls of insects that prefer to bite rather than slurp, you could very well use a bit of baking soda. Once ingested, the creatures will puff up from their insides because of the formation of gases, and die.

In short, you should apply a mixture of sodium bicarbonate and something sweeter, white and also powdery, to make it irresistible for them. Take a guess! Sprinkle it close to the infested spots, even on top of the foliage if you need, for any sugary debris can always be rinsed out later on.

Seaweed Spray

Seaweed is naturally salty unless you pick it at the riverside, and even so, it’s in their nature to always smell somewhat fishy. Traditionally, this weed has been used for fertilising, mulching and even to improve soil texture when incorporated.

It’s said to disguise the scent of ripe fruit as well as reduce the numbers of root pathogens like nematodes and fungi, all while offering a load of nutrients to your growing garden.

By making an infusion of these buccaneer plants, you can direct all those benefits to the aerial portion of your plants too, feeding them through their leaves when spraying this miraculous elixir. Maybe you even get to scare away some buggers along the way, which is ever so beneficial. Here you have it: two for the price of one.

The Ultimate Spray

If only you stir all the ingredients presented on this list, I would bet that you’ll create an extremely personalized time-bomb against most types of insects. Effective it’ll certainly be, let’s just hope that your plants remain unmutated and glossy as ever.

Bonus Tip: Banana Peel

Although this one isn’t a pesticide, it can be used in a simple way that’s worth mentioning. You certainly know banana peels for their common value as a piece to go into the hearty compost we are able to produce at home. Now the funny twist is that this peel can also act as a repellent for aphids and tripes, owing to the volatile compounds released while it decomposes.

So in case you aren’t a banana eater yet, maybe it’s about time to start trusting more in this versatile fruit. After munching it down, simply create a little fort of skins around the garden plot that you want to protect, or bury them in the earth, so that it doesn’t hurt the passersby’s eyes.

In doing this right and making effective use of each of these techniques, you’ll see how quickly your entire plant collection will be looking “down” on you with pride of being watched over by such a smart and skillful gardener.

12 Herbs That Will Save You From Bug Bites

Ricardo ElisiárioDo you live year-round in the tropics or are you bound to a more temperate country? It’s roughly the same, for the summers can get pretty hot and equally buggy.

Since none of us rejoice with the flying buzz and vicious jaws of some little critters, let’s go over a few species of herbs that you can bring home, or add to your backyard, to save your skin from a night of poor, painful sleep.

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Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

According to Hindu Mythology, basil is believed to ward off evil spirits. Seeing that the wicked spirits from primitive times can today be related to a number of things — one of them is disease-causing vectors — now you understand how it’s all connected.

The pervasive smell of the basil plant keeps pests and mosquitoes away. Put them outdoors, or anyplace you like to sit, and chill while keeping these little bloodsuckers away. Also, don’t be afraid to pluck out some leaflets and add them to your meals, for a master chef’s touch.

Oregano (Origanum vulgare)

If you’re both a gardener and a foodie, here again, this is just the right pick for you. Did you know that the oil of oregano diluted with around 8 ounces of water acts as a repellent to malaria-causing mosquitoes? It surely does on regular application.

Jump with happiness because you were just given a very valid reason to binge on pizza more often!

Mint (Mentha spp.)

Mint, or menthol, is known for its intrinsic flavorful properties. It’s also been traditionally planted alongside tea to give the leaves a minty tang. This herb will easily spread in your gardens and yards. It’s thought to keep eventual pests at a distance and is used in numerous ways to fend off harmful insects while perfuming the surroundings, and all done naturally.

Lavender (Lavandula spp.)

We love its royal scent, whether in tealights, incense sticks or the freshly plucked real thing. But there are also those who certainly hate it. Who, you wonder? Moths, fleas, mosquitoes and the nasty flies.

Grow it near a sunny window to keep these uninvited buggers away. Fill your home with its mind-boggling aroma and brew some herbal tea in your kitchen as well.

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Lemon balm is called the “Elixir of Life” for its undeniably useful medicinal qualities. It contains high amounts of citronellal, a fragrant chemical compound.

Pick up a spray can of bug repellent at your home and you might notice the recurrent presence of this ingredient on the label, as it’s so effective repelling pests. So why not spare money, and your health, by growing the organic stuff at home?

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon spp.)

This bladed herb is not only fantastic for enthusiasts of the culinary arts, but also necessary to keep your Eden pest-free. We’ve known citronella, the natural oil, and all those fragrant candles that are a bit costly for any rational pocket.

Lemongrass has high amounts of it and hence, offers mosquito repelling properties. So it’s time to pitch some South Asian recipes and, of course, protect our lovely skin and garden from certain mischievous insects.

Thyme (Thymus vulgare)

Essential oils derived from thyme act as a repellent too, yet it won’t do it without a little help. For it to work, you must injure the leaves — just crush them between your fingers.

Their volatile aroma somehow helps to repel whiteflies, cabbage loopers and maggots, corn earworms, tomato hornworms, small whites and a few other nightmares for your vegetable patch.

Dill (Anethum graveolens)

This famous feathery herb has a quite distinct and bewitching flavor. Its mild perfume makes it a versatile herb, whose leaves and seeds can all be used for a variety of dishes.

For every gardener out there, dill will also protect your garden from aphids, squash bugs and spider mites.

Catnip (Nepeta cataria)

Recent studies confirm that this herb can be even more effective than DEET, which is a highly toxic component used in standard canned bug repellents.

To all of you reading, who despise big crawlers and coincidentally love to see cats in an altered state, this is the drug you need. Catnip plants are excellent roach repellents, look cool and are simple to care for if you leave them in a pot below any sunny skylight.

Bay Leaf (Laurus nobilis)

Need to come up with a fine curry dish? Go pluck some bay leaves from your yard’s shrub. Why buy it packaged or dry when this precious ingredient really does grow on trees?

This lip-smacking spice is a must-have in your patio since it keeps flies at bay, something invaluable especially in the warmest summer evenings, right after your nicest recipe pops ready out of the oven and the bugs can’t even wait to be invited in.

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)

Onion gives you tears but chives, which belong to the same genus, will not. In fact, this delicate plant causes sobbing only to carrot flies, Japanese beetles and aphids. The purple inflorescence is like a mace, built to repel these creatures off of your crops, or else your salad greens would be at stake.

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgaris)

Fennel is known for its crunchy texture in the Mediterranean cuisine. It has a sweet, refreshing taste and its seeds are used as mouth fresheners all around the world. But did you know that it also is one of the insects’ many kryptonites?

If you grow it in your garden, rest assured that all those aphids, slugs and snails will soon be slugging away.

As you’re aware, insects, they come in countless forms and sizes. Being their mere existence usually enough to ruin our good spirits, this collection of plants should the natural weapon of choice to fight them with.

These 12 examples aren’t just pretty but also so full of scents that even the most stuffy-nosed mosquito won’t fail to sense them and wish they could teleport somewhere else.

20 Unbreakable Rules for Becoming a Real Gardener

Ricardo ElisiárioSometimes we think of ourselves as gardeners, good ones; other times, we are too doubtful about our knowledge and skill to even publicly disclose our hobby. Here follows a list of 20 simple tips that’ll make your gardening practice something to be proud of — bragging allowed!

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Have Your Garden as Organic as You Can

Why add chemical fertilizers, weed killers or pesticides when you can reap roughly as much by using none of those hazardous products that threaten your health and the life inherent to your garden’s earth?

Start with Easier Veggies and Flowers

Not everyone is born with a flair for plant care or a thumb already tinted green, so you better find easier alternatives to the plants you’d otherwise ambitiously try to start in your backyard.

Find the Most Suitable Spot for Each One

Some like the full sun of 30 degrees C (86 F) while others prefer shielding from such intense heat. A plant will never adapt all that well to a place that’s not theirs by right, so be conscious of this aspect to keep consequences to a minimum.

If You Don’t Have a Spot, Create It

Living in a third floor that has only 10-square-meters of balcony is no excuse to have you stuck without giving gardening a true chance. If you don’t have soil, you can also get pots and a bag of substrate in your trip to buy the first seeds. Get your hands dirty already!

Try growing a Winter Container Garden with these ideas from MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Give Plants Their Owed Space

Plants need not only a fair share of root space but also nutrients, water and light. By planting them as if they’re Siamese twins, you’re seriously compromising their full potential.

Decent Soil Is a Must…

The soil is where a plant sinks its roots, thus to deprive it of a medium that has the right ingredients for prosperous growth is nothing but a great mistake. In case your garden has poor dirt, you can always invest in some that’s store-bought, otherwise, what can you even aspire to harvest?

…But Soil Is Nothing Without Good Drainage

Whenever there’s flooding, by an excess of rain or anything malfunctions, and you get your garden entirely soggy, be sure that if you don’t find a quick and easy solution for that, the plants will shortly be as good as gone. Better prevent than later try to fix what went wrong.

Gardens Only Grow in Their Season

You may try to deceive nature, but I warn you that it’s not that easy—not at all. Species have their seasons and their life cycles, so trying to fool them is a lost cause. Why even try it when there are so many plants especially built for each particular season?

Trimming Excessive Growths Isn’t Optional

If you see vegetable growth that just doesn’t belong or isn’t doing the plant any favor, then better not leave it there, attached and sucking on the reserves. Prune when needed and sometimes even when it isn't.

Incubate Your Seedlings at Home

If you’re just starting, and your skills working the soil and making good plant beds are still quite nonexistent, you should start by sowing your garden at home. Find a well-illuminated spot, preferably warm, and easily you will see your plants sprout and get ready to be planted out-of-doors.

Water Is Needed But Your Plants Cannot Swim

Drought kills, but so does drowning. To water your garden on a schedule is essential when the weather gets a bit too fiery, but dousing it excessively will bring more negative effects than positive ones, particularly if your soil is more clay than sand.

Let Your Organic Compost Cure for Long

Fresh rotten scraps that have yet to decompose and cook tend to have higher doses of harmful elements which can burn your garden’s roots. Let the compost bake for 2 to 4 months and you’ll end up with a great mix, full of absorbable nutrients and good microflora.

Be Ready to Wait for Some Time

A plant’s germination, growth and flowering stages, right until the fruits swell and ripen, are a whole series of events that take time. Now, if you’re of the impatient kind, there’s no other way than calming down or choosing plants with faster cycles.

Avoid Messing With Wet Soil

Plowing and hoeing the earth when it’s too damp is a great way to create a soil structure that isn’t as functional as that of a soil labored when the time is right. Work it when it’s neither so dry it gets powdery, nor wet enough to sculpt statues out of it.

Don’t Let Plants That Aren’t Ready, Flower

If you have a new tree, bush or really any plant that should still be focused on growing taller and stronger, do not allow it to bear fruit or its energy will be wasted in a way that often has permanent effects on future yields.

Add Every Bit of Organic Waste to the Pile

Kitchen scraps have much hidden life. Coffee grounds, peels and leaves, food leftovers and rotten things are the greatest addition to the compost pile. Throwing them in the undifferentiated bin is not only incorrect but also a big waste of nutrients.

Give Your Plants Sun (or They Won’t Flower)

If ever you worry that your flowers aren’t doing what their name says they ought to — flower — that’s probably because you’re not giving them the light they needed to blossom at the expected moment.

Avoid Watering Your Plant's Leaves Too

Molds, rots and even some tiny insects that enjoy a good bath tend to appreciate those lousy gardeners that water their plants’ leaves whenever the evening comes and it’s the moment for the daily irrigation.

Allow Fallen Leaves to Be Incorporated

Fall is the time of decay and of endless riches when one has heaps of fallen leaves and nothing to do with them. And I don’t mean jumping into them. Instead, incorporate them into the usual compost pile because organic feeds organic, without exception.

Grow Only What Gives You True Pleasure

You might sometimes listen to words of advice and incentive. Equally, there is some pressure to cultivate in a certain way and strive to achieve a garden that isn’t really the thing you wish it to be. Be true to your taste and grow only that which makes sense to you. It’ll be much easier, and potentially more prosperous, because working against our wishes is never the right course to take.

Greenhorn’s Granary

Maybe you decided to venture into gardening from being raised in a place where you constantly saw life sprouting in pots, planters, or your grandparents’ backyard. This familiarity with the rural side of life led you to try it on your own. Or maybe you’re the purest greenhorn gardener, at last getting those hands muddy.

Whether you’re from the city and only recently moved somewhere more spacious, or the city is still your haven and you don’t intend to leave it, still, that doesn’t mean one can’t have a share of flora rooting within four walls and a tight balcony. There’s room for everything and hope for everyone… just dig in!

Gardening is always an interesting activity. One of the most satisfying pursuits, after you start, is to keep learning and gathering a selection of plants and beautiful objects you can craft uniquely for your home and garden.

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A Fulfilling Hobby

Many believe in the theory that gardening is an activity for anyone who wants to escape daily stresses. In truth, though, taking care of a garden or even a pair of houseplants is no trivial chore.

What I mean is that it demands regular attention and shrewdness. You need to be ready to dedicate a fraction of your day’s time to your deserving greenery. But don’t wrongly assume that gardening is too demanding or overwhelming either.

You alone choose the volume of effort you’re willing to put in — there isn’t a great obligation. It’s actually the opposite, as there’s a good heap of contentment to be felt once you succeed in seeing your first plant to adulthood rather than letting it down and off to premature demise.

A Healthy Addition to Existing Decor

It’s not too rare that we hear some saying that plants shouldn’t be kept inside our bedroom because they steal oxygen, which isn't true. Instead, what has been proven is that plants purify the indoor spaces while also influencing our well-being on a much deeper level.

These green roommates do play a vital part in calming us down and boosting the current decor level of our place. If not inside the bedroom (because after all, we cherish our privacy!), anywhere from the many window sills to by a lonely kitchen sink.

The spots begging for a plant are plenty, you must simply find them. Sometimes it feels odd to make changes in our home, but when it comes to flower pots and the life they contain, you can never really go wrong, and I am certain too that you’ll never look back either.

A Reason to Come Home More Excited

After sowing a seed or planting a root, bulb, leaf, or twig in the soil, we count the days until it comes to life. When will it emerge and the first sprouts start to unfold? There’s excitement in even the most minute of developments, as soon as you become attached to the process.

Since it’s mostly after long periods of absence — during a night of sleep or a full day out at work — that the garden seems to grow more, and the expectation for surprising changes gives you one added incentive to return home faster.

Put the key to the door, step in, and keep your fingers crossed, lest your flowers have thrown a wild rave in the living room!

A Pride in Having a Beautiful Collection

Few things are more fascinating than being allowed to follow, up-close, the progress of life, from seed to senescence.

Plants will flourish according to how you feed and care for them. In this and many other aspects, plants are really the same as all other living beings. The difference is that we get to run through each stage of their lives at a much faster pace (unless we’re speaking of big, big trees) and that makes it only the more exciting.

Besides, I think I’m not speaking only for myself when saying it’s a great boost in our spirits, but more so to our ego when we manage to maintain a functional garden, glowing with health.

A Way to Engage With Our Loved Ones

Gardening is very therapeutic even when done in solitude, but it’s way more enthralling if you bring those you cherish into the party.

Call them over to contribute every time you need to plow, sow and weed, reminding everyone that those who don’t sweat early on, won’t be invited to break bread when it’s time to taste the ripe tomatoes and crispy lettuce, dressed in olive oil and with a sprinkle of that oregano you also grew on a little sunny patch.

The only thing they must be aware of is that no one is expected to be born with a green thumb. As long as they’re willing to get their hands dirty, all is well and ready to grow.

All About Maidenhair Ferns

Ricardo Elisiário

Ferns are now still as trendy as ever before. Since Victorian times they’ve been used for the nice and exotic looking houseplants they are, displayed either by themselves or inside a terrarium or greenhouse, where the environment can be made most appropriate to raise these plants.

This one is very common. Probably because of how easy and fast it grows, for it sprouts without any trouble, with its light-green curly buds unfolding from within the earth to rise tall, as high as the plant’s age allows.

Maidenhair Fern

Temperature

For maidenhair ferns, temperatures should be neither too chilly nor hot — keep it at 15-20 degrees C.

Care to shield the plant from the outside’s hostile weather that creeps in from any open windows during the peak of winter. Temperatures beyond this cozy interval might cause yellowing and stunt this fern’s growth.

Light

In truth, ferns are made of light much more than they are of darkness, so don’t let their misty, crawly appearance fool you into thinking otherwise. They prefer the brightest spots, though ideally never direct sunlight as it can easily and irreversibly burn the paper-thin leaflets.

Be thus really careful with the sun and especially with the heat. I once saw mine suddenly droop and little did I know that it only needed a bit more water than I had given it — it was then the high of summer, a very hot day even indoors.

Water

A lot of species like this one don’t require their potting mix to be soggy but you cannot let it ever dry either. What they also enjoy is a high level of moisture in the air because the stems of the maidenhair fern are fragile and vulnerable to drought.

The supplement this water that’s constantly evaporating into the room, spray the leaves daily or place the flowerpot on top of a larger container with a thin layer of water (which should however not be always in contact with the bottom holes of the pot, or rotting might occur).

Soil

Use any kind of mix but preferably one that’s light and rich in organic matter. These plants aren’t picky in regards to where they sink their roots in, they only need to be able to do so unobstructedly, also because the rhizome grows at a shallow depth underground.

If you can, use a potting soil meant for ferns and mosses, that contains a bit more of the usual ingredients plus some vermiculite and sphagnum turf. These parts will make the humidity in and around the pot much higher and the need for watering hopefully less frequent.

Transplanting

Whenever you feel that the vase is depleted and roots are already coming out of the bottom, it might be time to renew the mix and divide the plant’s rhizomes. You can do this every year or two because the fern grows wildly during the warmer seasons.

One rule to follow is not to bury the crown of the rhizome beneath a too heavy layer of soil, for the new sprouts come all green and ready from there mostly. However, I actually tend to cover that crown just enough for it to be hidden below the surface, since I find it less neat to see the whole budding mess that’s going on underground.

This way, the only shape that appears is that of the actual shoots, one after the other. And it’s quite impressive how fast they come out and unfurl once the plant is well-rooted.

Propagation

Maidenhair ferns are best multiplied by simple division of their convoluted mass of rhizomes. By spreading the bulk apart you’ll get many new roots, almost as many as you’d like, that you can then replant in multiple pots.

Do this procedure on spring and only if the fern has grown enough new rhizomes. Also, unlike some other ferns, this plant doesn’t produce new plantlets directly from its fronds.

Fern

Place and Decorative Purposes

Being suited for both suspended or simpler ground level pots, this fern’s leaves are based on firm, thin brown stems with an erect tendency that’ll keep them from dropping down too much.

Preference aside, this plant goes well with every kind of decor and room type. It’ll maintain its form and growth if your house is heated, and if not, then wait a couple of months for spring and it shall then burst again like ever before.

The maidenhair fern makes for a great houseplant for those who like it simple, elegant, and very easy and gratifying to tend to.

Paneer Lajawab Recipe

For all our readers who don’t understand Hindi or Urdu, lajawab means “unanswerable”, literally, though it actually signifies “matchless”. This serves to say that we’ll be aiming high with this dish. The fusion of spices will smack your tongue and your family be compelled to mop off the plate with their fingers.

Here’s our paneer (cottage cheese) recipe containing some mild spices, fresh garden herbs and veggies, and a whole lot of passion and flavour meant to tickle your tastebuds.

Paneer Lajawab

Yields 2 servings.

Ingredients

  • 250 grams of paneer (if you don’t have it, can be replaced by tofu)
  • 1 cup of tomato paste
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 green chilies, slit lengthwise
  • 4 tablespoons of oil
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh cream
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons of dried and crushed fenugreek leaves
  • 2 teaspoons of ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon of coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon of chaat masala
  • 1 teaspoon of pav bhaji masala
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of carom seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • Salt, to taste

Directions

  1. Dice the paneer into cubes.
  2. Inside a deep bowl, combine the paneer with the dried fenugreek leaves, chili and turmeric powders, chaat masala and salt.
  3. Mix gently and place it in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  4. Finely chop the onion.
  5. Cut the tomatoes into quarters and put them in a small mixer jar. Add 3 tablespoons of water. This will enhance the smoothness of the paste.
  6. Blend it into a soft paste.
  7. Take a non-stick griddle and heat 2 tablespoons of oil.
  8. Add the marinated paneer and shallow fry them for only 3 minutes, on high to medium flame. Toss occasionally.
  9. Remove from the pan and keep aside.
  10. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, then add the carom and cumin seeds. Sauté on medium flame for 30 seconds.
  11. Add the finely chopped onion and sauté still on medium for 3 more minutes.
  12. Add the garlic paste and green chilies. Mix well and cook for 1 minute until the raw smell of garlic is gone. Stir occasionally.
  13. Add the coriander powder and a pinch of salt. Keep cooking for 3 more minutes on medium.
  14. Add the fresh tomato paste and fennel seeds. Mix well and let cook for 3 minutes.
  15. Add tomato ketchup and pav bhaji masala. Cook well for 5 minutes.
  16. Finally, add the cooked paneer plus 3/4 of a cup of water, and it should cook for 3 to 4 minutes, now on low flame till the flavors infuse the paneer cubes.
  17. Add fresh cream and garnish with coriander leaves.
  18. Mix it up a bit to mingle all the aromas and colors… and it’s ready to plate!

Give this Indian treat a try and come up with lovely comfort food that has all the taste without much of that sometimes painful spice. Truly a dish one can cook on any occasion to win the hearts of even those who are skeptical about vegetarian food.

Organic Béchamel Salad Recipe

Bechamel Salad

Yields 2 servings.

Ingredients

Sauce:

• 2 tablespoons of butter
• 1 tablespoon of refined flour
• 2 tablespoons of finely chopped garlic
• 3 cups of milk (preferably warm)
• Salt (to taste)
• Freshly ground cayenne pepper
• Oregano
• 4 tablespoons of cheddar cheese (grated)

Salad:

• 1/4 head of iceberg lettuce
• 1 medium-sized carrot
• 1 large tomato
• 1 medium-sized onion
• 1 teacup of sweet corn
• 1 handful of walnuts (roughly chopped/crushed)
• 1 tablespoon of olive oil
• 1 tablespoon of vinegar

Directions

To make the sauce:

  1. Take a heavy bottomed saucepan and heat it. Add 2 tablespoons of butter and let it melt. Add garlic.
  2. Stir the garlic till it starts turning pinkish.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon of flour. Stir constantly.
  4. Cook the paste till it turns golden, for almost 3 minutes on low flame. Stirring continuously is key or you’ll get your sauce lumpy.
  5. Add the heated milk. Warming the milk is a bit of extra work but you’ll obtain a perfectly smooth sauce this way.
  6. Stir continuously and bring the milk to a boil till it starts thickening.
  7. When the sauce reduces to half, add another half cup of milk.
  8. Stir for 1 minute.
  9. Add salt, pepper and oregano, according to your taste.
  10. Turn off the flame and add the 4 tablespoons of cheese, mixing till it melts completely.

This part’s done! Now while the sauce cools down, you should start preparing the salad.

To make the salad:

  1. Take a round bowl, large enough to fit the whole salad.
  2. Cut the veggies into juliennes.
  3. Add the corn.
  4. Roughly crush the walnuts and sprinkle the vegetables with them.
  5. Lastly, pour the salad sauce into the salad bowl containing the crunchy veggies (or the other way around).
  6. Mix it thoroughly so that all the salad is evenly coated with the dressing.
  7. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of vinegar and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

Serve quickly, and eat it while you can still feel the freshness of the salad contrasting with the warm white sauce.







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