Growing Cabbages

Ever since I was a child I have been fascinated by cabbages, I don’t know why. May be because of its shape and looks. It’s Hindi name got it right, calling it: Bandhgobhi or gobhi which is bound. Cabbages remind you off onion. Peel and peel to reach the fruit. But in the case of cabbages it’s without the tears.
Growing up in rural towns in Punjab and Haryana in the winter months I often came across fields with cabbages, laid in rows in different stages of growth as I walked to our to school. On a particular foggy day, wrapped in woolens all over I remember squatting beside the flowering cabbages, peeling the outer leaves and counting them. As I progressed the colour became denser and I ended up with a woollen ball-sized fruit, sitting pretty in its turquoise green livery. The yet-to-be picked vegetable had some five covers! Well that was not many I have come across one with nine outer leaves.
use cabbageCome the month of November it would become a routine for me and my pony-tailed friend and school mate Vipuli to go on a hunt for the season’s new crop, and this continued till January end. I and Vipuli were together only for two seasons. By the time I reached the seventh standard father had been posted to a new cantonment. Twenty-five years have passed since then but my memories of Vipuli squatting beside me counting the outer leaves of cabbage are still afresh. As I write this I try googling her name: there are some 51 entries under that name. Can’t make out which one is my childhood friend Vipuli?
It was till the Seventies that one got cabbages only in the winter months but now you get them all-year-round. Those were the days when we used to wait for Ma to make her Bandahkophir dish, made with shredded cabbage, diced potato with easy helping of spices, like bay leaf, cinnamon and cardamom.
Wifey does make her version of the dish and its fine but not fine. For the sake of marital harmony I haven’t told her that it’s no way closer to what Ma used to make.
I have always wanted to take to farming and grow cabbages, a dream I shared with my sister-in-law. A native of Allahabad, her family had a small patch of garden where they grew vegetables like brinjals, lady finger and tomatoes. She never did cabbage and that’s the common ground we shared: One day, we will grow cabbages.
I write this post hoping she reads this: “Boudi I have grown bandhgobhi and here are some of the pics.”

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