San Diego Batwa

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Another perfect day in San Diego and the market was buzzing with people like honeybees in a hive.  Finds this week included fresh figs, navel oranges, jalapenos, tomatillos and a plethora of beautiful greens.  Among the tender leaves at La Milpa Organica were Lamb’s Quarters.  My enthusiasm must have showed, because they gave me an extra bunch to enjoy.

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Most of the boiled greens (horta) I tasted in Crete were Lamb’s Quarters. The buttery tenderness and full flavor of both stems and leaves harmonized beautifully with fresh lemon juice, freshly pressed extra virgin olive oil and local harvested sea salt.  Of all the dishes my memory serves, Lamb’s Quarters horta epitomized the sun drenched cuisine of Crete. 

While living in semi-rural Uttar Pradesh, many of the greens we used came from field foraging or small plots.  Our daily trips to the market would often bring home Batwa, Hindi for Lamb’s Quarters. Used like spinach, it made incredible sak (sag).  As buttery as the sweetest spinach, batwa was difficult to overcook and excellent as a fresh wilted green as well.  Other uses were in raita (yogurt condiment), pakoras (fritters), puris (fried bread) and upma (savory semolina pudding).  For years, I did not know what batwa translated to until recognizing in Greece.  After that, it became a quest and a pleasant discovery to find it at the markets.

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