top of page
  • Writer's pictureMichael Swamy

Organic and Eco-friendly? What is the worldwide fuss all about?

You sit in the organic garden and watch the butterflies and the birds flit about. You hear the shrill calls of the birds as they waken in the morning. The hunt for food begins within the garden and all around it. A gigantic hornbill drops by to steal a tomato. The orange thrush searches the undergrowth for some worms. The bee eaters have their timings set for hovering around to capture some of the bees and dragonflies that are in their multitudes pollinating the flowering plants that are within the organic garden. Head off the property and the farms next door are almost bereft of the magical world of birds and insects that play a major role in the growth cycle of life.

I am reminded of that song by Elton John asking someone to come play with him in his magic garden and the song Lemon tree as I walk past the lemon trees. You would too when you sit under the gigantic umbrella like shed that is in the centre of the garden at Kings Lodge or the village house in Pench and Kanha. Its almost magical those moments in time, on my last few trips I carried with me some heirloom tomato seeds and some purple beans and handed them over to the gardener. Seeing them growing on my next visit was a joy untold and a far greater sense of belonging. We owe our meals to the farmer, bot the man and the insects and the wildlife that make it all happen, for without the co-existence of both nothing shall come to pass.

So what is Organic Food, a term coined by Lord Northbourne in 1939. Well it is a holistic approach to farming. Chef Jose Executive Chef points out “Even while organic is now, relatively common food terminology, it is the distinct difference in the, taste flavours, and awareness, that the food one is consuming, is free of genetic modification. Organic means good, clean and fair: good in terms of taste, clean in terms of environmental sustainability, and fair, in terms of price and value for the people who produce it."

While one may think that organic produce is way to expensive in the markets, to make it popular one needs to bring it to a parallel pricing point. So is the price just? Due to the lack of volume Organic food is often priced between 10% to 60% higher than that for regular produce. Too expensive, also means a change in the dimension of one’s shopping budget would be considerable if one were to shop just for organic produce.

In times of recession it’s all about targeting high-end users. The change has been happening from terrace gardens to bankers and professionals turning to gardening and growing their own produce for themselves and for sale.

The conversion from chemically treated land to Organic farming takes three years. The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) mentions that “Organic agriculture should be based on living ecological systems and cycles. These should be emulated and sustained. Systems are universal but must be adapted to suit climate structures of areas and the culture and scale of operations. Factors like recycling, materials and energy management help sustain and benefit habitats, air, water and biodiversity.”

We grow our own herbs like wild mint, basil, dill on the property along with tomatoes, pumpkins, carrots, radish, cauliflower, zucchini and eggplant (brinjal). The latest edition has been micro-greens for salads and breads and parathas besides just making a dish look pretty. The economics of using organic produce just does not justify the creation of complete meals as yet, maybe in the future. Creating exotic dishes out of simple ingredients and changing mindset of consumers will bring about a change, but with time. Breakfast dishes of fresh papaya and fruit from the garden to roasted and stuffed green heirloom tomatoes to pumpkin soup or creating desserts using the vegetables grown in the garden has become a way of life in the Pugdundee kitchens. The need to get chefs to change the mindset of people is to create simple yet beautiful dishes and make people realise the health benefits of it all.

The bottom line is, one’s health is in one’s hands. One must create a demand for food that is environmentally safe for animals, the land, forests and people. It is healthy, nutritious and above all can be made economically viable.

Baked Eggplant with Chimichurri

Fresh home styled brinjal spread liberally with fresh homemade chimichurri, encrusted with a crumble of assorted nuts and grilled.


1 cup fresh coriander with stalks, chopped fine

½ cup fresh parsley, chopped fine

½ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped fine

½ cup olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon rind

1-2 tablespoons red chilli flakes

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 large brinjal

¼ cup toasted amaranth or any millet

¼ cup fresh parsley / coriander


For The Chimichurri, place all the ingredients in a blender and blitz to a slightly coarse paste.

In a pan toast the millets for three to four minutes till golden brown and cooked.

In a clean bowl, toss sliced brinjals with half the chimichurri paste and set aside for an hour.

Heat a griddle pan over medium low heat. Drizzle with oil and arrange the marinated brinjal slices on the pan. Grill for 5 minutes on each side.

Alternately, place the sliced brinjals on a baking tray and bake it in a hot oven (150°C) till golden brown on both sides 9about 15 to 18 minutes).

Sprinkle over with toasted millets and some fresh parsley or coriander and drizzle over some of the balance chimichuri.

Serve hot.

4 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page