My first Incredible Edible harvest was a furtive one. Climbing up onto the stone ledge to retrieve two red butterhead lettuces, I found myself explaining that you really could pick the vegetables, and I wasn’t being a naughty, not nice lady -as I overheard someone tell their small child. For the second, I was emboldened, taking back up along in the form of my mum. This time I came away with a handful of miniature beetroot; two onions; one kohlrabi and a turnip. Then realising I had no bag, had to carry them away bindle-like, in my hoodie. Totally Urban right?
Though it may sound like a motley collection, eating root to shoot, they made a good few meals: beetroot puree with toasted fennel seeds and slices of macerated onion for smoked salmon; beetroot tops in garlic and mustard with sea bass; kohlrabi leaves stuffed with seasoned rice and spicy ground pork and bhajias of turnip, kohlrabi and onion chive. Alongside, flashes of being at my grandmother’s apron strings, as she taught me, in the infuriating way that Indian grandmothers do, to cook without a recipe and instead by taste, look and feel. The way, it would seem, I now cook -and a rather handy way it turns out too.
So here’s a recipe, although really, it’s more of a guide. Change the vegetables, use more or less spice; flesh it out with your own taste and feel.
Millennium Square Bhajias
1 medium kohlrabi
1 small turnip
4-6 onion chives
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp ajwain seeds
1 tsp black onion seeds
4-6 tbsp gram flour
Sunflower oil to fry
Grate the kohlrabi and turnip into a mixing bowl. Finely slice the onion chives and add to the bowl. Sprinkle over cumin, coriander and chilli powder, followed by the ajwain and black onion seeds. Add 4 tablespoons of gram flour and mix thoroughly. Leave the mixture to rest for 20 minutes; the gram flour should absorb most of the liquid to form a soft dough. If not, add a further 1-2 tablespoons of gram flour and leave for another 20 minutes. Shape into small patties and shallow fry in sunflower oil. Serve alongside raita or chutney.
For more information about Incredible Edible Bristol and how you can get involved, visit their website. To find out which beds are ready for harvest and what is available at each site, there is an app available, but feel free to get out and about and have a nosy around the beds. You can also read an interview with Sara Venn, co-founder and driving force behind the project here.
And finally, a short film about the Urban Food Growing Trail by EatPictures…