The closest thing we had to a farm in New York City was the one hardy basil plant on our kitchen windowsill. Here in Goa, my parents have an entire fruit and vegetable garden begging to be devoured. The land in these parts of Goa is believed to have been volcanic, resulting in soil that is richly fertile. One of the hypotheses of why Goans are so laid back is that we never had to work for our food. The oceans and rivers brim with fish and vegetation seems to grow wherever one throws a seed.
In addition to the mangoes that fill our giant tree, other fruit include papayas, pineapples, bananas and jackfruit. In addition to a small rice paddy that supplies a few sacks of red rice each year, there is a line of coconut trees that keeps us hydrated. A vegetable garden grows long beans, cauliflower, cabbage, and bushes of leafy greens. The herb garden has everything from peppercorns to cinnamon and chilies to galangal.
After a long break from cooking, I was tempted enough by the produce to make us a noodle dish. I’m unsure of whether to classify this as Vietnamese or Thai, but it was fresh, summery and delicious. Here is the recipe.
2 lemongrass stalks, sliced about and inch thick*
1 inch galangal, peeled and sliced thick*
3 stalks green onions, sliced fine*
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 pound of long beans, cut into 2 inch pieces*
1/2 pound okra, cut into 2 inch pieces *
1/2 pound of tofu, cut into one inch cubes
handful of holy basil*
lime wedges to serve
*I used ingredients from our garden.
Brown the tofu in oil and set aside. Stir fry the lemongrass, galangal, green onions and garlic until the aromas start to make you salivate (about three minutes). Then add the long beans and tofu, along with a mixture of the fish sauce and brown sugar. Cover this and let it simmer for about five minutes. Add prepared rice or bean noodles (follow packet directions, but this usually involves soaking noodles briefly in hot water to soften) and stir fry for a few minutes until flavors are mixed. Turn off the fire, stir in the holy basil and serve fresh with lime wedges.