Glyphosate is a systemic herbicide widely used in agriculture.
In the USA, around 80% of genetically modified crops (GMOs) have been modified to be “Roundup-ready”, in other words to be resistant to the weedkiller Roundup, the world’s most popular glyphosate-based weedkiller.
Many of these “Roundup-ready” crops end up in cattle feed, which is not just used in the USA but exported around the world. As a consequence traces of glyphosate have been found in meat and numerous meat products.
Glyphosate also works as a dessicant and is used to help dry and ripen wheat and other cereal crops at harvest time. As a consequence, a third of all bread sold in the UK contains glyphosate traces.
Glyphosate has also been found in tap water, honey, biscuits, crisps, breakfast cereals such as Cheerios, Froot Loops, Special K and, more recently, in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
Glyphosate can remain stable in foods for a year or more, even if the foods are frozen, dried or processed. It cannot be removed by washing nor broken down by cooking
Tests routinely show traces of glyphosate in the urine of adults and children.
Given that glyphosate was declared to be “probably carcinogenic” by the World Health Organisation (WHO) two years ago, there is every reason to be alarmed.
The product has only been in widespread use for around 30 years, and we still know little of its long-term effects on our health. Most of the tests carried out by regulatory bodies have been carried out with glyphosate at very high levels of concentration. Little is known about its impact at the levels commonly found in our drinking water and food.
Nevertheless, studies conducted in the USA and Europe have shown that glyphosate traces are higher in the urine of those with chronic illness compared to more healthy humans.
Other recent studies suggest that Roundup may pose a risk to our kidneys and liver.
Despite the WHO declaration, and despite growing concerns, Roundup and similar glyphosate-based products continue to be sold widely, and there is mounting evidence of the huge scale of glyphosate penetration of both our food chain and our bodies: another reason to choose organic products, that have been grown in healthy soils and without the use of poisonous agrochemicals.
On to the recipe.
In just a few weeks’ time I will be in Kerala, south west India, and the idea for this dish came about whilst I was experimenting with the ingredients for a classic Keralan cabbage and coconut dish called thoran. As is often the case, I ended up with something quite different to what I’d originally planned.
The coriander relish works perfectly with these crispy, tasty pakora, making this dish a real treat.
cabbage, coconut and cumin pakora with coriander relish
1 onion, finely sliced
1 small savoy, or other winter cabbage, approx 400 g, core removed, shredded
100 g fresh coconut, grated
150 g gram (chickpea) flour
250 ml cold water
2 green chillies, seeds in, finely chopped
1 tbsp cumin seeds, lightly toasted and crushed in pestle and mortar
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp sea salt
groundnut oil, for deep frying
for the coriander relish
3 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
2 green chilies, seeds in, chopped
2 cm piece ginger, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
juice of 1 lime
pinch sea salt
1. For the relish, place the coriander, chillies, ginger, garlic, lime and sea salt in a food processor and blend to a paste. Set to one side.
2. Place the gram flour and water in a large bowl and whisk together into a smooth lump-free paste. Whisk in the turmeric and sea salt, then add the cabbage, onion, coconut, green chilli and crushed cumin seeds. Stir to combine.
3. Pour groundnut oil into a deep pan to a depth of 5 cm. Place over a high heat. Once the oil is hot enough to brown a small cube of bread in 30 seconds it is ready. Carefully lower spoonfuls of the pakora mixture into the pan. Do this in small batches, to avoid crowding the pan and reducing the temperature too quickly.
4. Fry the pakora until golden brown and crispy all over. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain briefly on kitchen paper before serving along with the coriander relish.