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Kumta: Jewel of the Konkan

pics of fresh vegetables and fruits market in Kumta by Arun Shanbhag
On every visit to India, I follow a similar schedule. We head to Goa to pay our respects at the Ramnathi Devasthan in Ponda. From there we head south along the coast to Kumta.

Kumta is a sleepy township. The busiest part of town is Main Street, called paent, which is only a few blocks long. The place for any and all your shopping. Its where all the locals 'hang-out' too. There is not much else to do in Kumta. Rest and relax.

And best of all – I get to speak konkani all over town! My konkani is good enough, I easily pass off as “from Mumbai” (which is not incorrect)! Yes, every shop-owner, rickshaw driver, stall-wallah, lady selling vegetables, and their brother speaks Konkani. 🙂 So even among strangers, I feel at home.

In the mornings, the local market is buzzing. It's only a few rows of vegetables and fruits. And not surprisingly, friendly folks and juicy vegetable and fruits everywhere.

Join me for a short tour of the Kumta Vegetable Market!

This pair of smiley guys seemed to have the biggest stall there.
pics of fresh vegetables and fruits market in Kumta by Arun Shanbhag
These brinjals (?) were mouth watering. Appears to be a hybrid between a “Gullaen” and the brinjal. Can someone shed more light on this?
pics of fresh vegetables and fruits market in Kumta by Arun Shanbhag
Yes! MANGOES! BTW, this was from our May-June trip. Those little green ones are deceptively sweet. Called manik-bhat, a local variety and very popular all over the konkan coast.
pics of fresh vegetables and fruits market in Kumta by Arun Shanbhag
Who said, sucking up cannot be sweet!
Thats the way to eat the manik-bhat mangoes. Wash (optional), pinch the stem and make a small hole. Gently roll and squeeze the mango, so the pulp is ejected into your mouth. Suck, fast. Discard the leftover at a nearby cow who will glady finish it off 🙂
pics of fresh vegetables and fruits market in Kumta by Arun Shanbhag
As I negotiated my way around the market shooting pics and striking conversation with the shop-keepers, this girl selling a grab-bag of spices and colors was giggling. Not sure what she found humorous. When I turned my camera on her, … she was full of modesty.
pics of fresh vegetables and fruits market in Kumta by Arun Shanbhag

A tighter crop, lightening the spice girl’s endearingly beautiful features.


For every guy who ever wondered: What women really want?
The largest crowd was in front of this stall which sold bangles, earrings, nose-rings, bracelets, anklets and other trinkets. Note the women who have orange flowers in their hair (3rd from left; 2nd and 4th from right). Those are the traditional aboli flower strands, very common in the konkan. (see next pic).
What women really want? Pics from Kumta by Arun Shanbhag
On the market, a woman was selling these (l to r) drumsticks topped with woven aboli flower strands; dainty lady-fingers (a longer and delicate version of the Okra available in the US); a ripe pineapple; more drumsticks (these appear less fleshy) and a bowl with more flower stringers.

What women really want? Pics from Kumta by Arun Shanbhag


My question is this: Even if the women selling flowers, spices, and the small guys selling mangoes, were to sell all their produce by the end of the day (highly unlikely), how much money would they earn? Would it be enough to buy other food for their familiy, clothes, school tuition? savings perhaps? Something to think about!

My visits to Kumta are times for introspection. While M stays at home and rests and lazes around, I walk the markets, the alleys, the temples, and talk, talk and talk. With the guy selling mangoes, the vegetable seller, the woman here, the flower seller there, the shopkeeper elsewhere. I want to know them, see the world from their eyes. With all my education and training, what can I do for them? What can you do for them?



Other Kumta Related Posts:


Comments

  1. Dear Arun,

    Are the Manik Bhat variety mango that you are referring here to is the same as ‘maanibetta’ or something similar, as we called it? They never turned yellow and soft but remained green and the bestest tast.tast.iest I can ever remember!

    -Chetana

    • Hi Chetana, your description is perfect, but not familiar with the name. I think its the same.

      OK, we are starting to see mangoes already coming in the market.
      A

      • 😊 I just hope they are the s a m e.
        Yeah I am seeing wrinkly yellow faced mangoes with red cheeks that goes by the name ‘Sindhoora’ here in Bengalooru.

        I was born there & raised all over Karnataka, so I only know my house and other family friends in Kumta 😊 so my folks may know the person that you are referring to. Either ways, So glad to see my Kumta anywhere 😊 thanks a ton. I did go through many other posts as well.

        Best wishes to little M and big M and to you too!

        – Chetana

  2. Dear Arun!

    Lovely morning delight for me! I landed here from some other Konkani cuisine space. Nanna Kumta – I am from Hegade – brings back so many memories. I have to visit and stroll around the place this summer, alas, the summer does indeed take a very big toll, 😦 however, thanks a ton!

  3. I think I have read this post several times in the last few years and I come back to it time and again mainly because I miss my hometown the same way as you do. Btw Kavoor Kamakshi temple on the main road is our kuladevu. Been almost 5 years that I last visited. Thanks for all the lovely pics.

  4. Madhura Pai kamat says:

    We live in Florida and we were looking to see if we can find out what is Manik Bhat called if we can even get these type of mangoes so that we can plant a tree . I too have no idea what’s this mango called in English . One of the tastiest ever .

    • Heh, Why don’t you just come over to Kumta, grab a bushel of these Manik Bhat, grow the samplings and take them with you?
      I am sure you could even find a local nursery who has those saplings available. Those Manik Bhat are all over the place.
      Right now is a little late in the season.

      Sounds good? 😉
      A

  5. Madhura Pai kamat says:

    Hello !!

    Lovely to see Kumta pics . Very nicely written .
    Do you know the English name for Manik Bhat by any chance ?

Trackbacks

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  3. […] few weeks ago I wrote about mid-day lunch at the Shanbhag School in Kumta. During our recent visit to Kumta in July, I walked over to the adjacent primary school – […]

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