Versatile foods in the North East of India
In the North East of India there is no dearth of unique and exotic ingredients in terms of food. You only have to imagine the kind of food that you’d like to eat today, a particular kind of vegetable, or a meat, or a dish; and the northeast will serve you some of the most unique techniques and god heavenly ingredients all fresh and organic. The dish that you’d have imagined will be served in a most original and different way and you’d have known how amazing that dish could be in case of versatility.
All the seven sisters of the northeast have their own flavorful mixes of spices, herbs and other ingredients; each in its own way absolutely rich and delicious. Things that may stay common in this uniqueness are the ingredients that are found in all these states with slightly differing varieties; the maddening love and tolerance for spice and how we like things to be as organic as possible.
Watercress as a readily available ingredient
One such ingredient that is loved all over the north east is the Watercress plant. The plant has different names that it called by in all these 7 states. Like everything else, even though one may find the tiniest differences in the way this plant may look, its height, its size and shape, this that stay common about this plant is that it grows like wild fire in waterlogged areas high constitutes almost all of the many regions in the entire northeast; the peppery, spicy aroma and flavor that we are so in love with and its innumerable health benefits.
Nutrition content of the plant
The watercress belongs to the Brassicaceae family of vegetables which may also include Brussels sprouts, cabbage and kale. In olden times the plant grew so wildly that it was considered to be weed. When one talks of nutrition density we understand it as the measure of the nutrients it is capable of offering in terms of the number of calories it provides. This makes the plant watercress an extremely nutritional one. In proper measurement, a single cup of cooked or raw watercress may provide:
- Protein: 0.8 grams
- Fiber: 0.2 grams
- Vitamin C: 24% of the RDI
- Vitamin A: 22% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Vitamin K: 106% of the RDI
- Carbs: 0.4 grams
- Calcium: 4% of the RDI
- Fat: 0 grams
- Manganese: 4% of the RDI
- Calories: 4
By this chart you can make out that a single cup that offers almost 34-35 gms of watercress can provide about 100% of Vitamin k (a fat soluble vitamin that aids blood clotting and the bone health) required for a person to consume per day. Apart from the above mentioned nutrients; watercress is also known to possess certain amounts of thiamine, vitamin B6, folate, phosphorus, potassium, copper, sodium, vitamin e, pantothenic acid and riboflavin.
Positive effects of watercress on the body
High antioxidant content in watercress lowers health risk that comes with chronic illnesses. Watercress is packed with a certain plant compound called antioxidant which is a proven agent that helps prevent cells from damage. Cell damage can be caused due to many reasons but the most common reason is due to a very high amount of free radicals in one’s body. These free radicals can cause oxidative stress to the cells that causes cells to decay and wither. Due to oxidative stress, chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer can happen. When you consume foods that are rich in antioxidants such as watercress, you help your body fight off free radicals that cause the oxidative stress to occur.
There are so many health benefits, that you may not have known which comes from the consumption of watercress, but that requires a whole new piece.
Watercress as a food in the north east
In the northeast, we eat watercress regularly. There are numerous combinations and permutations to the vegetable when it comes to the ingredients it is best paired with. Some may even argue that watercress is best served when simply sautéed or low fried in little oil till it turns slightly crisper and with a slight drizzle of roasted sesame seed and salt.
In many cultures, the plant has been long used I the form of soup, used to lower fever. Watercress is a medicine that does a lot of wonders and this is why it has been used as a medicine in parts of the northeast.
However, today we are going to learn to make the most amazing watercress soup you may have ever tasted. This recipe is so special that I urge each and every one of you to try this at least once at your homes because things like this comes by very less. Without further ado, let’s start:
Watercress sour soup (serves 4):
When the naturally peppery, aromatic and spicy flavors mingle with a good sour punch, heaven descends into a spoonful of hot spiced water that may as well be capable of taking away your worries.
- A bundle of watercress
- A small finger of ginger (finely grated)
- 2-3 large cloves of garlic (peeled and stomped once)
- Two onions (thinly sliced)
- 2 tomatoes (minutely diced)
- 2 large table spoonful of tamarind (soaked on a bowl of hot water so as to extract the sour juice from the tamarind pulp)
- Salt to taste
- One teaspoonful of Lakadong turmeric
- Half a coconut thinly shaved.
- Wash the watercress like a baby (extremely thoroughly), now pick from the softer stems and throw roughly chop the watercress stocks into 3 parts.
- Now in a stockpot add 4 table spoons of olive oil or mustard oil and let that heat for a bit.
- Now add the ginger, garlic and coconut shavings in the oil. Keep a low heat so that the ingredients cook thoroughly.
- Now add the onions and sweat them for a bit.
- Now add the tomatoes and let that sweat as well and become softer.
- Add the turmeric and the salt to taste. Let this entire thing cook for a bit.
- Now add the watercress and sauté the vegetable so that it becomes concentrated and starts to loose water.
- As soon as it loses water, add the tamarind juice along with two large bowls of warm or hot water.
- Let that boil for an hour over a medium flame so that the soup becomes well concentrated with flavors and the water lessens to serve 4 people.
- Now roughly chop some coriander leaves. Serve the soup in a bowl, garnish with the fresh coriander and serve hot.
This may be the best vegan soup you have tasted in a while. Voila! Your Minari soup is ready. Enjoy with a steaming pile of sticky rice. Thank us later!