For the past few weeks following our first ever harvest of radish (Raphanus Sativus) from our Heritage (organic) Garden, there’s been quite a buzz about this juicy root crop in the office. There are many varieties in terms of shape and color; they can be cylindrical or round and come in black, purple, red or white. We have the white cylindrical variety growing in our garden in Roche Caiman.
When the gardener brought in a few freshly picked radishes into the office kitchen for us to take home, a debate ensued on how best to prepare it. Can it be eaten raw, can you cook it, are the leaves edible and how best to do so? Well, both the leaves and root can be eaten raw or cooked, and the root can also be pickled. Turns out the pods, seeds and flowers can also be eaten!
Not being one who likes to spend more than ten minutes tops in the kitchen, I was happy to only have some leaves to use in making my salads. A lovely change from my usual rocket and lettuce. Eric Blais, on the other hand, our unofficial in-house chef was eager to introduce us to achard (zasar in Creole). He took the rest of the plant home and the next day we were treated to a delicious accompaniment to our lunches for the rest of the week.
We were curious to learn how he had created this tasty treat, well, purely for academic reasons of course, Having peeled the root, which he estimated to be about 200 grams, he grated it and soaked it for around fifteen minutes in lukewarm water with about half a teaspoon of salt to reduce the sharp taste as well as for seasoning.
Then came the cooking instructions: heat some sunflower oil in a pan until it is sizzling hot; turn the heat off; wait about sixty seconds and throw in some finely chopped onions and crushed garlic and stir; let this cool down for a about two minutes or so then add in some turmeric and stir again. Take the radish out of the water and squeeze the water out using your hands and stir this into the pan. Finally, after a few seconds, add in about one teaspoon of crushed mustard seeds and stir. Wait for the achard to cool down completely and it is ready to serve with whatever meal you are eating.
Not only is radish a great root crop that can be eaten raw, cooked or pickled, it is also known to have numerous health benefits, both preventative and as a treatment for various ailments. Radish is great for cleansing the blood of wastes and toxins, and is deemed very effective in treating jaundice. Due to its high fiber content, it is fantastic in relieving constipation symptoms. Radish also helps in the digestive process as as it stimulates the production of bile. Other health benefits include treatment of skin disorders, rehydration, reducing high blood pressure, boosting the immune system, clearing sore throats, reducing fevers, acting as an anti-inflammatory and treating insect bites.
Radish is rich in Vitamins A, C and K; Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids; Zinc; Iron; Calcium; Magnesium and Potassium. The health benefits are numerous and a lot to digest. But the nutritional value is enough to make me rethink those bottles of supplementary vitamins on my shelf, which if I’m honest, I could easily easily replace with a balanced diet and perhaps a regular achard accompaniment, assuming of course Eric is willing to keep us supplied.