Did you know that 80% of the world's almonds comes from California? CA gets more revenue from almonds than it does from wines. As the acreage under almond cultivation increased so did the need for pollinators(read honey bees). Pollination domain is not owned by the honey bees. Butterflies, bumble bees, moths, even wasps and bats are all pollinators in their own right but they are wild insects and not organized like the honey bees which live in colonies and make it easy to be transported.
add the chickpea flour, chopped onions and the spice powders
Like with every China connection the dumping of cheap Chinese honey into the US made the prices of local honey uncompetitive and US honey bee keepers could not stay afloat. But luckily for the US honey bee keepers, this coincided with the increase in monoculture where large acreages were brought under cultivation of a single crop. With the disappearance of small family farms, diversity of crops also disappeared which is essential for wild pollinators. Large scale commercial operations which specializes in a single crop organized in neat tracts of land formed with destruction of wild flower meadows, application of pesticides which removed weeds the wild pollinators were destroyed.
This destruction of wild pollinators threw a lifeline to the bee keepers in the form of commercial pollination. The almond growers in the absence of wild pollinators and not enough honey bees available locally required trucking of honey bees from the other parts of the country and thus providing an alternate livelihood for bee keepers.
use the paniyaram pan to make the pakodas
Not just almonds, oranges, apples, cranberries and even melons all required commercial honey bee keepers for pollination but none demand the prices that almond does in the world market, so the demand for the bee hives are set by the almond growers.
Reference: This excellent article on SFGate.com.
Arrive the diseases that are affecting the bee colonies and large numbers of bees dying off. Researchers initially thought they would arrive out one single virus affecting the bees but they found out it was a cumulative effect of several. The prices for bee hives have been going up steadily as more and more bee hives are in danger. Beekeepers do not fail to remind everyone that most vegetables and fruits we eat everyday require the honey bees for pollination.
yogurt mixed in with chickpea flour, turmeric and chili powder
As honey bees in the US are dying off, honey bees are shipped from Australia and diseases in that population affect the hives here.
the pakodas floating in the yogurt
There are others who decry this over dependence on honey bees which are not native to the US to do most of the pollination which the native pollinators had done a century before. They also argue bees and honey making again is exploitation of animals.
you will be forgiven if you think this is pudding but it is pakoda kadhi
"We have been losing bees and beekeepers in this country for 60 years, and now we are at the point where almost half the colonies in the country are needed to pollinate almonds in California," vanEngelsdorp said. "We are close to the margin" of a viable ratio of pollinators to crops, he said. "It's amazing to me how close we are to that line."
Source: Washington Post article
These facts by themselves should be quite alarming. Most food crops, vegetables and fruits that are grown in large number are from a very few species and those are dependent on a very few creatures to sustain. The way our food is sourced is severely fucked up and the more I read about it the more scarier it gets. There are smart people who make decisions they are surely seeing these problems that scientists and those in the food movement have been talking about for years.
Haagen Dazs has an interactive and very feature about honey bees, their importance to food production and how we can help to save them.
Now on to a bit more pleasant things. I have spoken a bit about this hole in the wall place we used to frequent. Cheap but fresh Indian food, what if the place was a bit dirty we did a carryout or avoided looking at the floor. At this place was my first introduction to methi parathas and pakoda kadhi. A sardarji who manned the griddle was also a server suggested both the dishes. Who would turn down a recommendaton from the cook himself? Skeptical at first about a pakoda kadhi, huh?
In my corner of India, we knew pakoda very well, the very popular deep fried snack, as for kadhi was called mor kuzhambu, often made when there was an excess of sour yogurt and the crisper held no fresh vegetables. One was a tea time snack the other at least in my childhood home was a night time side dish for rice. But in my world the two had never met in a cooking pot.
But the taste hooked us from the very first try and became a regular restaurant order but not always consistently tasty and always with a layer of yellow tinged oil floating on top. Two things about this dish had me in knots about trying this simple and easy recipe, cooking the yogurt on a stove top and bringing all the work to a naught when the curdling happens. Deep frying the pakoda was the other. The more kadhi I saw on blogs and my doubts being cleared, slowly but surely I was running out of excuses. An occasion presented itself with an over abundance of yogurt. I was to make homemade yogurt for around 80 people and like is my habit I made yogurt for 150 people and left with plenty of sour yogurt. RC's baked pakodas and Sharmila's assurance that the chick pea flour keeps the yogurt from breaking had me experimenting with a dish which until then was a restaurant only fare. I had some green beans turning black and made itself the main ingredient in the pakoda.
Recipe Source: Kadhi Pakoda from Edible Garden
Green bean pakoda kadhi
To make pakodas
1. 2 cups of minced green beans
2. 2 cups of chick pea flour
3. 1 tbsp chili powder
4. 2 tsp cumin powder
5. 1 tbsp curry leaves powder
6. 1 tsp cumin seeds
7. 1/2 tbsp ginger grated
8. 1/2 onion minced - 1/2 cup worth
9. salt to taste
10. oil for making the pakodas (grease the paniyaram pan)
For the yogurt gravy (kadhi)
1. 4 cups of yogurt (from fat free milk) whisked + 1 cup of water
2. 1 1/2 tbsp of chick pea flour (I used a less than 1/2 cup and it was a bit much)
3. 1/2 tbsp of chili powder
4. 2 tsp of turmeric powder
5. 3 tsp of grated of ginger
6. seasonings : cumin seeds, 3 red chilies broken and seeds removed, asfoetida
7. 1 tsp oil
8. salt to taste
1. To make the batter for the pakoda, mix the ingredients in the to make pakoda section, add 1/2 cup of water and make a thick batter.
2. Heat the paniyaram pan, grease the holes and pour the batter into the holes. Let them cook on one side, flip and cook on the other side. Make sure a tooth pick or any sharp needle like object inserted comes out clean.
(You can stop here and enjoy the pakoda paniyarams but we won't do that)
3. Set aside and start to prepare the kadhi
4. Whisk in the chick pea flour with chili powder,turmeric powder to the yogurt.
5. Heat a thick bottomed pan, heat the oil add the cumin seeds, asfoetida and red chilies. Add the ginger and saute for a minute or two.
6. Reduce the heat all the way to low and add the yogurt, raise the heat to medium low and let it heat through, add salt.
7. Add the pakodas and continue to cook for 12 - 15 minutes.
8. The time you cook depends on the consistency of the kadhi required ( I cooked it for about 20 minutes and it became quite thick like seen in the picture)
Serve over rice or parathas.
Miri, says that the best kadhi is when it is simmered for 12-15 minutes.
It was not that hard in the end. The biggest problem was keeping off the pakodas before they hit the yogurt. It was a perfect with some soft rotis.