In Production Today – March 2012

The ‘Jap’ pumpkin leaves are excellent for making a richly-flavoured curry…

March is generally when summer productivity slows and diversity decreases in my garden. But pawpaw have surged ahead, jute and all the basils are brilliant, and I’m picking the last plump figs. Rats beat me to my first two autumn pineapples…

Rather like my strawberries, I’m waiting for the nights to become a bit cooler before my next move. Probably next month I’ll be sowing quick growers, like Asian greens, to pick in late autumn. It’s far too warm, wet and humid to risk sowing early winter crops, like tomato, even though seedlings are on sale everywhere.

If there’s two meals I can’t keep my mind off, it’s pesto and curry. Each of my basils makes a distinctively flavoured pesto, all seem more subtle than the common sweet basil, and all are cropping handsomely.

Herbs and spices for flavouring curries are plentiful…March belongs to the curry pot! So, here’s an Indian curry recipe, pumpkin leaf curry, with rice and chicken, prepared by my friend Aaron. It’s his mother’s recipe and uses my garden’s ingredients:

1 Chicken
Prepare a marinade, blending salt, garlic, lime juice, black pepper and native mint to taste;
Soak chicken pieces for 30 mins;
Then bake at 180C for 20 mins;

2 Flavoured rice
To basmati rice, add 1 cardamom leaf, 1 turmeric leaf, grated galangal, garlic, 5 x cloves, 1 inch cinnamon bark, salt, a little native mint and a little lemon basil.
Boil rice & ingredients until ready.

3 Pumpkin curry
When rice is simmering, boil the young pumpkin leaves for 3mins, then puree.
In a saucepan, fry spring onion, ginger, garlic, 1 cardamom leaf, four cloves, 1.5 inches of cinnamon bark,1 chilli, 1 turmeric leaf. Fry. Ideally use mustard seed oil for frying. We used Australian olive oil.
Add pureed pumpkin leaf, blend and season with salt, 1/2 tsp cumin, 2 hot chillies (or 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper).
Shred chicken, add to curry.
Bring to the boil, adding any remaining marinade.
Add native mint and lemon basil.
Simmer 5-10 mins then serve.

Edible roots
Arrowroot, Canna edulis
* Cocoyam, Xanthosoma saggitifolia
Ginger, Zingiber officinale
Galangal, Alpinia galanga
Turmeric, Curcuma domestica
Golden sweetpotato, Ipomoea batatas ‘Marguerite’

Edible shoots
Luffa shoot tips, Luffa cylindrica
Pumpkin shoot tips, Cucurbita moschata ‘Jap’

Edible shoots and leaves
Jute, aka Egyptian spinach, Corchorus olitorius
Celery stem taro, aka Tahitian spinach, Alocasia esculenta
Chinese celery, aka smallage, Apium graveolens
Welsh onion, aka spring onion, scallion, Allium fistulosum
Purslane, Portulaca oleracea
Golden purslane, Portulaca oleracea var. sativa
Golden sweetpotato, Ipomoea batatas ‘Marguerite’
Scurvy weed, Commelina cyanea
Coriander, Coriandrum sativum

Edible seeds
False cardamom, Alpinia nutans
Coriander, Coriandrum sativum
Chinese spinach, Amaranthus gangeticus

Edible leaves
Jute, aka Egyptian spinach, Corchorus olitorius
Arrowroot, Canna edulis
Huauzontle, Chenopodium berlandieri
Green amaranth, Amaranthus viridis
Love-lies-bleeding, Amaranthus caudatus
Chinese spinach, Amaranthus cruentus ‘Red Calaloo’
Chinese spinach, Amaranthus tricolor
Chinese spinach, Amaranthus tricolor ‘Flying Colours’
Chinese spinach, Amaranthus ‘Mekong Red’
Parsley, Petroselenium crispum ‘Triple Curled’
Native lemongrass, Cymbopogon ambiguus
Native mint, Mentha satureioides
Golden sweetpotato, Ipomoea batatas ‘Marguerite’
Curry leaf, Murraya koenigii
* False cardamom, Alpinia nutans
Moroccan mint, Mentha spicata ‘Nana’
Chives, Allium schoenoprasum
Garlic chives, Allium tuberosum
Society garlic, Tulbaghia violacea ‘Variegata’
Kaffir lime, Citrus hystrix
Radicchio, Cichorium intybus
Sweet basil, Ocimum basilicum
Dwarf Greek basil, Ocimum minimum
Sacred basil, Ocimum tenuiflorum
Perilla frutescens ‘Purpurea’
Cassava, Manihot esculentum
Variegated cassava, Manihot esculentum ‘Variegatum’
Vietnamese mint, Persicaria odorata
Variegated four seasons herb, Plectranthus amboinicus ‘Variegatus’
Lemongrass, Cymbopogon flexuosus
Lovage, Levisticum officinale
Phillip Island hibiscus, Hibiscus insularis
* Aloe vera
Aptenia cordifolia
Chaplu, Piper sarmentosum
Dwarf rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Benenden Blue’
Fastigiate rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Miss Jessopp’
Milk thistle, Sonchus oleraceus
Cobblers’ pegs, Bidens pilosa
Scurvy weed, Commelina cyanea
Ceylon spinach, Basella alba
Mixed loose-leaf lettuce, Lactuca sativa
Golden oregano, Origanum vulgare ‘Aureum’
Pumpkin, Cucurbita moschata ‘Jap’

Edible flowers
Luffa, Luffa cylindrica
Society garlic, Tulbaghia violacea ‘Variegata’
Pumpkin, Cucurbita moschata ‘Jap’
Chives, Allium schoenoprasum
Aptenia cordifolia
Daylily, Hemerocallis sp.
Marigold, Tagetes erecta
Scurvy weed, Commelina cyanea
Turmeric, Curcuma longa

Fruit
Ficus carica ‘Preston Prolific’
Kaffir lime, Citrus hystrix
Lime, Citrus latifolia
Luffa, Luffa cylindrica
Naranjilla, Solanum quitoense
Chilli, Capsicum annuum ‘Cayenne’
Chilli, Capsicum annuum ‘Siam Gold’
Mouse melon, Melothria scabra
Eggplant, Solanum melongena ‘Early Purple’
Pawpaw, Carica papaya
West Indian gherkin, Cucumis anguria

Spice
Cinnamon, Cinnamomum verum

Medicinal
Greater celandine, Chelidonium majus
Bulbine frutescens
* Aloe vera

Jerry Coleby-Williams
7th March 2012