Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pristine Nature and Lettuce Tomato Pecan Salad with Pudina Red Rice

My friend K recommended an online site called Pristine-Nature when I was looking for fresh, organic vegetables. They source a good variety of organic produce, grains, beans, lentils, spices and oils from mainly local (in and around Bengaluru) farms and offer a once a week home delivery service.

Inspired by the founders of Adi Naturals (a community service organisation aiming at connecting the farmer directly with the consumer to lower costs), this is what they have to say about themselves...

"Pristine-Nature does not offer any goods or services of its own, and neither do we buy or sell any products. We only provide an online presence and voluntary service at no-charge, to like-minded community service organizations who work for no profit or minimal profit for covering their expenses. These organizations purchase from marginal organic farmers and retail their wares. Our idea is to enable such organizations to reach wider audience / customer-base over the internet and enable them with IT services with the help of volunteers, to streamline their operations."

In less than half an hour of me registering at the site, I got a call from their customer service representative (a very nice, polite lady) who patiently explained all about Adi Naturals and Pristine Nature to me. The call really encouraged me to go ahead and avail of their services without feeling hounded in any way.

DH and I decided to place an order with them over the weekend. We ordered a variety of red rices along with a few vegetables, some yelakki bananas and turmeric powder. After much excited waiting, today the stuff arrived! :)

I was very happy to note that they didn't use unnecessary plastic bags to pack the things. Except for the red rices, all items were without packaging. The young man who was delivering my order carried everything into my kitchen in a crate and transferred them onto the counter. The produce was very fresh and healthy looking. The rice seemed clean and in very good condition. He informed me that the chou chou (chayote) I'd ordered was in a slightly poor condition so he voluntarily asked me to subtract the amount for it from the payment even before I could take a closer look at the vegetables and he left the single chou chou behind anyways. I found that to be very professional.

Veggies on my kitchen counter

The prices of the products are slightly on the higher side compared to inorganic products (which is to be expected) but compared to the prices of organic products at some other stores, Pristine Nature seems fairly competitive. They used to be a lot more expensive last year but according to what they told me, the prices are lower now in comparison because they've stabilized more. I believe that as more and more people switch to organic food, the prices will come down further.

The only issue I have with Pristine-Nature is that they charge 20% of the total bill as the delivery fee (with a capping meter of Rs.150). That in my opinion is a tad high. It discourages one from buying too many things because each time the total increases, so does the delivery fee. In fact, I had originally added a few more items to my shopping cart but ended up removing them simply because they were high priced items and would run up the delivery fee too much. Gingelly (sesame) oil for example is around Rs. 165, which by itself is a pretty good price for organic gingelly oil, but the thought of the price going up another 20% discouraged us from buying it. I think if they had fixed delivery charges of Rs.50 to Rs.100, depending on the distance of the house from their place, it would surely encourage people to add more items to their cart.

Overall though, I was very happy with the transaction and very much intend to continue ordering from them on a regular basis. All this time I had not made the change to organic simple because I didn't have an organic store close enough to me to walk to but now with everything coming right to my door, I have no excuses.

I recommend Pristine-Nature to everyone in Bengaluru who is looking to switch to a partial or full organic diet.


Now lets come to my lunch...

There is nothing more inspiring to a cook than a fresh batch of produce spread out on the kitchen counter. Greens, herbs, vegetables... my mind was whirring on high speed with all kinds of ideas! Do I make quinoa tabbouleh with the fresh mint, coriander and country tomatoes or do I make capsicum stuffed with rice and beans with a pasta salad on the side? Or better yet, a hummus and pita bread sandwich stuffed with loads of cruncy, munchy lettuce?

I finally settled on making a simple lettuce salad with red rice on the side. That would meet my objective of making a large portion of our meal raw and yet have a cooked dish in the mix to make it more filling.

Organic Lettuce Tomato Pecan Salad with Mint Red Rice

For the Lettuce Tomato Pecan Salad with Balsamic Sambar Powder Dressing:

Lightly Shredded Organic Lettuce
Halved Organic Yellow Cherry Tomatoes
Pecan Halves
Splash of Tamari
Splash of Balsamic Vinegar
Sprinkle of Sambar Powder

Mix the lettuce, tomatoes and pecans together and keep aside. Just before serving, add the remaining ingredients, toss well and serve.

Note: If you mix the dressing ingredients to the salad in advance then the lettuce will lose its texture and taste lousy.

For the Pudina Red Rice:

1 C Organic Red Rice
2 C Organic Pudina (Spearmint Leaves)
2 Spicy Green Chillies
Allspice Powder
Lemon Juice
Nutritional Yeast
Freshly Crushed Pepper
Small Splash of Agave

Wash the red rice well. Bring 4 C of water to a rolling boil and add the rice. Reduce the flame to the lowest, cover and cook.

Meanwhile, chop the mint leaves and the green chillies and add them to the boiling rice along with the allspice powder. Cover and continue to cook for about 40 minutes. Check once after 30 minutes and add salt at this point. Cook till all the water is absorbed and the rice has split.

Turn off the flame and take the pot off the stove. Add the lemon juice, nutritional yeast, agave and mix well. Crush pepper on top.

How to proceed:

In a plate, spread the salad all around the sides and leave a small space in the center. Place the rice in this space. Top with a few pieces of pecans and tomatoes. Enjoy! :)

This was a very satisfying, delicious and filling meal. The tomatoes were the best part. Bursting with flavor and so juicy! If you place a order with Pristine Nature Organics, be sure to get some of them.

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