Saturday, June 10, 2006

Weekend Herb Blogging: "Shopping Local in Kolhapur" (a photo-essay)

I have been a fan of "Weekend Herb Blogging" ever since Kalyn first came up with the idea, but this is the first time I am participating in this fun event. Many thanks to Cate from Sweetnicks for hosting it this weekend!

This is a photo-essay depicting the vegetable market in my home-town of Kolhapur in the western Indian state of Maharashtra. All pictures have been taken by our Polish friend Lukasz . Lukasz visited India for our wedding and enjoyed capturing glimpses of everyday life in India on his camera. Of course, marketplaces are simply a whirlwind of activity in India and he spent quite a lot of time there. He was a very courteous photographer, always "asking" his subjects (with smiles and mime) if it was OK to take a picture. I thank Lukasz for being so generous and sharing these beautiful pictures and allowing me to present them on One Hot Stove.


An overview of the vegetable market: it is a big open area, covered with some tarpaulin for protection from the beating sun. Inside, vendors sit down in rows with their wonderful produce artistically arranged around them in baskets. All the veggies look so luscious and inviting! I love the concentric arrangement of the eggplants. The market also has a couple of stalls that sell stuff other than produce: Can you spot a colorful stall selling glass bangles in the right background? (Bangles are wrist ornaments and glass bangles are inexpensive, popular accessories: they can be matched to a saree of every color!)

This lemon-seller laughs self-consciously when she is caught in the middle of a tea break. I love the neat arrangement of the lemons, crowned with two colorful chillies for good luck.

These two ladies are selling (left to right) green beans, ridge gourd and baby eggplants. Most of the sellers here are small-scale farmers who come from the outskirts of the city, hauling their fresh vegetables (packed in reusable jute sacks, not cardboard boxes). The taste of these locally-grown veggies in unbelievable. Note the small metal scales behind the eggplants: here the vegetables will be weighed and placed into your bag or basket. No plastic bags, no shrink-wrapped produce here!

This veggie-seller decided to pose with one of the vegetables she was selling. That beautiful, bright and huge cauliflower certainly deserves to be shown off! Selling vegetables is hard work and a business with a very low profit margin and no retirement plan; this lady is still working when she looks like she deserves to retire and get some rest.

Finally, here is a stall where the weary shoppers can buy themselves a little treat. This lady is selling a number of mouth-watering tidbits: (from left to right) slices of raw mango slathered in salt and red chilli powder; a fruit called jamun or chew up the purple flesh, toss away a large seed and are left with a bright purple tongue; next comes young tamarind (still in its pods) I discovered in Feb 2010 that this is actually a different variety of tamarind called vilayati chincha in Marathi and Manila tamarind in English; then gooseberries called amla in Hindi or avla in Marathi; and finally, dried salted slices of the same gooseberries, some are pre-packaged into a cone of newsprint, for convenient munching as you stroll through the market.

Have a great weekend, and eat your veggies :)


  1. What a great post for WHB!! I'm so glad you decided to participate. A good friend of mine just went to India and I was so jealous. I would love to be able to visit there and see this market in person.

  2. Neat pictures. Reminds me of the market in my home-town. Feel like visiting India soon. It long-due after 2 years.

  3. was a treat to read this post. And boy, was it a visual appetizer!

  4. Hello Nupur,

    My friend in India forwarded me link to your blog and I have been reading and enjoying your writing for about a month now. It has been such a heartwarming experience!. Being a Maharashtrian (Puneite) I can relate very well to the contents of your blog. In addition to your skills as a food writer, I am always amazed at how you make it a point to introduce so many features of day-to-day life in Maharashtra (India)which we always took for granted. I realize how wonderful these things have been - as if I start seeing these things anew in that affectionate light your writings bring about!

    This activity of yours has formed a rich and smooth interface between our state in India and rest of the world. I am proud that Maharashtra has such a powerful representative in you.

    Keep it up and best wishes!

    Vandana Mhaske (Iowa)

  5. What a lovely way to share your hometown!

  6. Excellent photos !! Reminds me of our vegetable market back home. Look at all the vibrant colors. Thank you so much for sharing these.

  7. Those pictures remind me of Bangalore Sabji mandi :(. I loved going there every weekend for shopping (even if I did not wanted to buy anything, I enjoyed looking at those gorgeous vegetables). Now I miss my India :((.

  8. I have tears in my eyes right now! Those subzi-mandi pictures are EXACTLY how I remember India. Ohhhh...I miss India sooo much.
    And Nupur, do take your time to wrap up the PhD...I wish I had enough time for it(I just LOVE school).

  9. Fresh veggies, and look how deadly they look and market place is always an activity of daily buzz.
    My heart goes to the cauliflower selling granny and when i see people like them, i feel so sad and still salute them. Good post Nupur!

  10. Nupur, what a beautiful treat to the eyes! You took me to India for a few seconds. I feel so good after seeing these pictures. Do you know the english name of jamun/jambool? It sounds like a fruit I know, but I can't remember the name in any language. :)

  11. Hi Nupur,

    You don't know me, but yours was one of the first blogs I came across some time ago when I was in search of authentic Indian recipes to try myself. Could not resist taking this opportunity to say hello, and thanks for all the great recipes!

    This lovely photo essay must certainly provide a taste of home to all who miss it, as attested to above; it's also a taste of the real country to those of us not fortunate enough to have visited :)

    Best wishes from New England,

  12. hi.nupur, i cd almost smell the freshness of the mandai ,grt pics. luv, yoma.

  13. Awesome photos. Thanks for sharing them with us here.

  14. Hey Nupur:

    Amazing pictures and a great write up. You reminded me of the "rythu bazaar" (meaning farmers markets) in Hyderabad!

  15. Beautiful post, Nupur! I recently discovered your blog and visit often though never left a comment.

    The picture of the elderly woman with the cauliflower brought tears to my eyes. I am probably going to think about it for weeks now.

  16. Hey I really like your blog, though never try out any recipes (I'm a bad cook) but it's fun to read! Keep posting!

  17. Hi Kalyn, WHB is just such a great event! I am a huge fan. I do hope you will be able to make a trip to India sometime...though Kolhapur is way off the tourist path!

    Mika, 2 years is a long time! Hope you get to make a trip soon.

    Shvetha, thanks! Lukasz did take some excellent pictures!

    Hi Vandana, what a nice thing to say! To tell you the truth, I myself realized the things I have been taking for granted till I say the pictures from Lukasz's eyes. Thanks for your support!

    AK, thanks :)

    Krithika, yes, they do look like every veggie market in India!

    Hi Shilpa...awww...I made you home-sick! I hope you get a chance to visit Bangalore soon.

    Hi Nabeela, thanks!

  18. Kitchenmate...the important thing is that she is earning a living with dignity, right? I agree with you, I salute them too.

    RP, no, I'm not sure what jamun is called...I think something-berry. I don't think I have come across it here in the US.

    Hi Linda, thanks for leaving a comment :) and thanks for the kind and encouraging words. India is a must-see once in your life :) I hope you get a chance to go!

    Yoma, Nandan, Luv2cook, thanks!!

    Aparna, I know how you feel...

    Soo, no one is a bad cook! C'mon :) give it a shot! Thanks for stopping by :)

  19. Nupur,

    Got this link from a friend. Really nice write-up and snaps. I totally agree with the comments written above.
    Being a Kolhapuri, I could not help remembering the nostalic days when I used to go to 'Mandai' with my father on sunday morning after praying at the 'Ambabai Mandir'.
    I'm looking forward to read more interesting articles. Keep writing.

    btw, I was planning to take some of my Japanese friends back home in my next visit to Kolhapur. Do you have any suggestion?

  20. Hi Nupur,
    I really remember secuderabad mandi after seeing your pics.
    Thanks to share your memories with

  21. What a wonderful post. I feel like I was there.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

  22. Vegetable vendors are truly a study in themselves. Isnt it amusing to see how people each have their 'trusted' vendors and will mostly buy from them .. somehow each vendor ends up being trusted by someone.

    And .. now I want some jamuns :-| :-|
    I can almost taste the sour-sweet flesh in my mouth and can almost feel the juice staining my fingers as I take a bite of one particularly large luscious jambhool. Aargh!!! Damn one hot stove .. my sleep will be restless tonight.

  23. Thank you so much for posting these lovely pictures, and I enjoyed your comments on them very much! I visited your country in December and just loved it. Mombai, Pune, and Delhi. My sister-in-law adopted two children there, and I was privileged to assist with picking up daughter number two! So the trip was a big highlight of my life so far, and I so loved your country and the people in it. Thank you for reviving the wonderful memories!!!

  24. That was one amazing post. Took me right back to India. And special thanks to the photographer who took such authentic snaps.

  25. On the "eat your veggies" note...Have you ever tried cookign any of the green leaf veeggies available in stores ex.Kale,Mustard Greens,Collard Greens (for this one recipe i saw was patra),Swiss Chard etc?

  26. Vineela, Ruth, Riana...thanks!

    Anya, *grin* I'm sorry I got you all nostalgic :) It is true what you say about the trusted vendors, my Mom has been buying potatoes and onions from this one vendor for 25 years or so!

    PatL, how wonderful to hear about your new niece! I am so glad you like my country :) Pune is just 3 hours or so from Kolhapur (where these pictures were taken).

    Gini, thanks! yes, he is a terrific photographer!

    Supriya, no :( I am very boring when it comes to greens...I stick to good old spinach. But you have made me realize that I should try and experiment more with other greens. I'll post when I do!

  27. mmmmmmm.....i enjoyed all the pics, looks *just* like our gavdevi market in thane; brought back the smells and sounds of my childhood. and yet, my eyes always went to the last picture, to the basket of red-chilli-and salt-kairi pieces :-p

  28. Hi Nupur,
    Thanks so much for this post... You are one rocking food-writer... Those photos are so good, but I can't imagine them without your writeup- you bring life to those pictures... and all the best with wrapping up ur PhD.. as someone said in one of the comments, take your time to wrap it up.. not many are as fortunate to do a PhD:(

  29. Hi Nupur,

    Kolhapur is not my home town but just like a home to me. The picture I guess is the "Kapiltirth" market near the Mahalaxmi temple at Bhavani mandap. A slight correction in the description of the 5th picture. U have said it is young tamarind still in its pods. This fruit is not tamarind . There may be a mistake on my side if this fruit also goes by the same name. As for me , when I was kid , I used to call them jilebis (look like the regular ones).


  30. Hi Nupur...

    Thanks so much for the pics of Mandai... I can very well relate to them being from Sangli... Its fun to go to Mandai for the 'Aathavadyaachaa Bajaar"

    Lastly.. you really have a nack of writing.. keep it up...


  31. Hi J, thanks for all the kind words!

    Hi Lavanya, thanks for pointing that out! :)

    Manish, yes, the weekly shopping trip is a lot of fun! Thanks for stopping by!

  32. Oh, wow, Nupur, thanks so much for writing this and giving the pictures a gracious home. I'm very happy that they could be featured on your blog! We wandered into the market after a trip to the Mahalaxmi temple and all the colors, the activity and - most importantly - the people were simply terrific. I'm glad it shows!

  33. Beautiful --- I loved the jamuns especially

  34. OMG! i never saw this post before...I have such fond memories of this market...This is the one near Ambabai temple right? I used to tag along with my grandfather when he went vegetable shopping and he would like me stop at this sugarcane juice place every time...He would also buy me rajgira laadu from one store...Sigggh!

  35. I so miss 'kapiltirth mandai'.I miss kolhapur.Thanks for the visual treat.It brought back so many memories.

  36. Was this in Laxmi Puri Market(KharaLa) or Mahadwar samor cross road (Kapil teerth)?

    Excellent essay of course!! I might be seeing it nth time but looks like I never commented :)


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