Friday, September 6, 2013

Coral Jasmine Blooms With Fish

 .The fallen blooms of the Coral Jasmine in my sister's garden
One of the most consumed flowers in our part of the world must be the Coral Jasmine/Nyctanthes arbor-tristis. The flowers bloom at dusk and fall at dawn from August to November perfuming the garden at night. It's a wonderful fragrance and it's a part of almost everyone's childhood memory because the tree is usually grown in most homes. We had one in our front-yard when we were young and the thinking about the tree still reminds me of play-time with my siblings and the smell from the tree at dusk also signalled the time that we needed to get back to the house and home-work! 

Although we had heard about the beneficial properties of the blooms and the plant, my mother did not cook the blooms. Maybe because there were plenty of other medicinal plants that flourished in our huge kitchen garden. Maybe I can incorporate them in some of my posts later. The other day I happened to be at my sister's house early in the morning. We were to go to a temple. As I waited for her to get ready I headed to the garden to pick up the blooms. Early morning sunlight filtered through the other trees in the garden. It was such a pretty sight! Tiny little white blooms with those bright orange tubes spread out on the grass. As I started picking the blooms, there were many that kept falling from the tree.
Fish curry with the fresh blooms
The dried flowers

There are only a few ingredients needed for this curry. 
A bowl of Coral Jasmine blooms
Fish pieces, 5-6
1 large grated onion
2-4 green chillies, slit lengthwise
A pinch of turmeric+ some for rubbing on the fish
Salt to taste
Hot water

Heat about three tablespoons of oil in a pan. Rub salt and turmeric on the fish and keep aside. Pieces of fish or  smaller varieties of fish (gutted and kept whole) can be used for this curry. When the oil comes to smoking point add the fish pieces. Shallow fry on both sides and remove from the pan. 

In the same oil fry the onion paste, then add the slit green chillies. Fry for a few minutes then add the turmeric. Then add the washed blooms and stir for a few minutes. Pour the hot water (about two cups) and the salt. When the curry comes to boiling point, put in the fish pieces. Let it cook for five minutes or so before you remove the dish from the flame.

The dish has a slight bitter taste. The bitterness is more in the dried blooms. Usually when we cook with bitter ingredients, the use of other spices is limited. The underlying taste/feel is that it is medicinal and beneficial and must be consumed once in a while. And flowers do not need to be cooked for long as they are so tender.
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