Planet Earth is our (only) place. We sat down with local farmer and forager Indy Srinath to hear more about how entwined nourishment and nature are in her lifestyle and cooking practices.
What does food mean to you?
“For me, food is pride and memory. It’s a Tuesday night full on the couch with foraged mushrooms simmering in a thick masala.”
Food is a peacemaker, a prayer to my younger self, a whisper in the midnight saying: In this dish you are home, by this meal you are connected, in this food you are free.
What would your cooking show be called?
I think it would be called, “Can I Pickle That?” Every time I find a new wild foraged food, or even come across different varieties that I’m growing in the garden, I'm like, yo, can I pickle this? Pickling is a great tradition of homesteading and foraging because you get to preserve these delicious spring vegetables throughout the winter. We need to think about how we can increase the longevity of our food, especially in areas where food waste could help solve the hunger crisis.
Why is foraging so important to you?
I work with a lot of folks who face food insecurity. If more people are empowered with the educational tools that they need to be able to go out and forage, or even to be able to grow their own food, then we can start beginning to address food apartheid in our communities. Learn from your local teachers, grab a book about foraging and really begin to dig deep — literally and metaphorically — into pre-existing food systems.
What are we cooking?
I grew up eating a lot of different curries, and I've always loved spice. With my father being from South India, we ate a lot of spicy foods and creamy, rich, nourishing broth. This recipe is really special to me because I was able to forge the mushrooms that I’m using in place of the traditional paneer. I also added ramps, which are an allium — they have a very similar taste to just wild green onion, and they’re sustainably harvested at a patch I go to all the time.
Indy’s Wild Mushroom Masala with Fermented Calendula Idli
1 lb. hedgehog, chanterelle, and velvet oyster mushroom rinsed, dried, and sliced
- 2 tbsp. ghee
- 1 can coconut milk
- 5 sustainably harvested ramps, finely chopped
- 2 tsp. grated ginger
- 2 tsp. minced garlic
- 3/4 cup tomato puree
- 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
- 1/2 to 1 tbsp. Kashmiri red chili powder
- 1/2 to 1 tsp. Garam masala
- 1 tsp. Pink salt
- 1 tbsp. fresh cilantro leaves
- Add ghee to your Always Pan and simmer on low.
- Add whites of ramps and cook for 3 to 4 minutes with lid on, stirring a few times.
- Add ginger and garlic paste, cook for 30 seconds.
- Add tomato puree, turmeric, red chili powder, garam masala salt, and mushrooms. Mix well, with wooden spatula
- Stir in ramp greens leaves, coconut milk and chopped cilantro. Mix well and serve with steamed Idli.