Let’s talk micro greens shall we. They’re a recent addition to my kitchen garden. Before you groan and go , “not another new health fad” ,please read this through. The first time I was exposed to micro greens was when I was served a beautiful plate of a melted cheese confection at a fancy restaurant.The garnish used to up the pretty quotient of this plate of food came in the form of micro greens. Each leaf looked so incredibly delicate ,not only the way it was artistically placed on the plate but also in the shape of it.
I must confess that while I admired the attention to detail I wasn’t too sure if it was for garnish only or if it was meant to add flavor to the dish as a whole. Not one to waste food ,I treated it as a herb and ate it along with a spoonful of the gooey Brie. The peppery taste was unmistakable. Coming from a family where we all love our salad greens ,I took to that savoury note instantly.
A little over a year ago micro greens began making an appearance in our local supermarkets and I would occasionally buy a packet or two for our dinner. But it wasn’t until I heard of a micro greens workshop that it occurred to me to grow these at home.
The workshop was organized by Chitra and Swetha Krishnasamy along with Anu Kankani and Ruchi. The 2 hour long workshop held at Rajasthani Sangh was attended by a group of kitchen garden enthusiasts. Ruchi is a dentist by profession and came across micro greens at a similar such workshop and has been fascinated by it ever since. She says for a busy professional like her,these micro greens are the quickest way to add nutrition to her daily diet.
Micro greens are the young tender shoots of plants that are harvested anywhere between 12 and 20 days of growth. Ruchi says the term ‘power packed’ best describes this super food. They require good air circulation, indirect sunlight and a slightly damp soil comprising of coco peat and compost. Ruchi adds that this exposure to elements in the right balance is exactly what gives these micro greens an antioxidant edge over regular greens and even sprouted lentils.
The space on a window sill is more than adequate for these to germinate. The workshop came with a kit that included a pot ,a water spray can and 3 packets of seeds . Chitra took out her beautiful gardening paraphernalia and patiently went through the whole potting and sowing process. It took me a week to get started and I’m thrilled with the results so far.The first shoots are a pale yellow. Once they are placed in muted sunlight for an hour,the colour transforms into a vivid green. That by itself added to the excitement of growing my own micro greens.
Since the mustard greens were doing so well ,I decided to get a few more small pots from the garden store at Race Course.I even found a cute tea cup shaped pot,just the right size. A few days later in went the flax seeds and sunflower seeds .The sunflower micro greens are much larger than the flax and mustard and offer a completely different visual in the leaf pattern.
In just 10 days the tops of the pots have a green canopy of tiny leaves, it’s such a happy sight. Ruchi also says that it makes for a great personalized gift for a loved one.
As far as using these in our traditional foods go the options are many. Micro greens are best eaten raw.Wash them by dropping in a bowl of water not under a tap. Use them as toppings for dhals , soups , uthappam or even a flavoured rice. Swetha says she just adds it at the end while making a chutney. You can up the health quotient of so many tiny ingredients (sesame , fenugreek , mustard etc) by adding a different dimension to their existing flavour profile. The effort required isn’t all that much either ! Sounds doable don’t you think ?
For info on micro greens workshops
Contact Dr.Ruchi :9092705130
Anu Kankani :9791905168
The internet has a wealth of info on micro greens. You can experiment with just about any lentils or seeds that you may have in your kitchen cabinets or shelves. chia ,wheat , urad , pumpkin ,carrot , all kinds of native spinach , sweet peas , corn , celery …the list is quite endless. Start off with a few and then gradually add more as you go along. I love picking them fresh off the container , just washing off a bit of the soil and adding it to my bowl of soup…so pretty and adds a delicious bite.
A few tips that I picked up
1.Keep the pots in a dark space for a couple of days until the seeds start sprouting
2.Use only the spray nozzle to dampen the soil…anything more will make the potting mixture too wet.
3. Expose to indirect sunlight so after the shoots come to the surface …they go from a yellow to a young green in half an hour.
4. Don’t over crowd or over water , it will lead to bits of white fungus like growth around the seeds.
5. Once you mix your potting media, add a layer of seeds and then a light covering of potting media again before you dampen it.
6. If done in stages , you can harvest and keep adding new seeds every 3 weeks or so…after exposing the soil to the sun for about 48 hours.
7. You will learn as you go along….it’s a great hobby to do along with friends, neighbours or children. Very satisfying too