As much as Italian lemons enjoy getting on a long flight just so you can dress your clams, you know this Spice Jet route makes you a foe of the environment.
“You should buy King Lemons instead, indigenous to Kashmir, very similar in shape, size and taste to their Italian cousins,” Shriya Naheta tells us. The 24 year-old runs Zama, an organic produce delivery service that works with farms across India so you can get the best produce without buying imported.
You can order online (zamaorganics.com), but we suggest visiting the Zama store that mushrooms at High Street Phoenix on Thursdays only – a two week old phenomenon - where Shriya and her eggplant evangelists will show you the support-local way. Go the day after tomorrow, and this session could end with a quick lick of winter’s sharbati or gaoti lemons – “orange on the inside and oh-so-sweet!”
Kale > Kegs
Shriya studied business and international relations at University of Southern California (USC), a time and place she describes as being in the thick of the organic food movement. “I didn’t really subscribe to it then; I was a student!” Shriya tells us (probably more interested in kegs than kale), but the philosophy stayed with her.
“It re-surfaced later, when I accompanied my sister on a produce sourcing trip across India.” Shriya’s sister Aditi Duggar runs Masque, one of Mumbai’s most vegetable-forward restaurants. "I was amazed at what was being grown in our country, and surprised that we still wanted to import our fruits and veggies,” Shriya says.
The Zama website stocks plain Jane fruits and veggies, but also tons of exotic ones (she’s currently recommending golden beetroot), grains, flour, pasta, sweeteners, oil, tea, coffee, superfoods, micro-greens, spices and condiments.
Besides supplying to Masque, Zama also fuels the pantries of many homes in Bombay, and promises not to break the bank should you decide to do the same.
Shriya claims that a lot of her produce is cheaper than the other farmers’ markets that are out there; we checked and the prices are almost the same. Zama also stocks veggies that play hard to get. “You may find purple sweet potatoes at grocery stores, but my bet is that they will be imported. Mine are born and bred in Maharashtra.”
Shriya’s family also has its own Polyhouse in Pune where they grow heirloom tomatoes and baby spinach for you. “I like to think of Zama as the place to start when you want to turn your kitchen into an organic space,” she says, citing Kyoto-sourced matcha as the only non-Indian product on her website. “I couldn’t resist,” she says.
Unsurprisingly, the cheese section on Zama is our favourite, featuring soft and hard cheeses lovingly sourced from family-run farms on the outskirts of Bangalore and Auroville. “Special mention for the cow ghee from Two Brother’s Organic Farm not far from Pune.” Those guys are doing a-moo-zing things with sustainability, we hear.
A new bakery section will also rise on Zama quickly, just as soon as Shriya has found the right culture vultures for the job.
Meanwhile, you make a trunk call to those Italian sour pusses and tell them you have new friends now, and that they’re local and lovely.
Getting there: Visit www.zamaorganics.com, Rs 150 for an avocado, Rs 85 per kg for nachni flour.
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