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Eating Green in the Desert. The Serai, Jaisalmer, a Week in Pictures

The Farm at SUJÁN The Serai nestles in a corner of the camp, bordering soft hillocks and mellow bui scrubland. The poultry (all local desi species) dashing about in the daytime, from the adjacent coops and the occasional mooing of indigenous Tharparkar cows from their rattan-covered sheds, leaves you in no doubt of the location of this patchwork of green hues, in the middle of what is the Thar desert ecosystem. The lettuce abuts the tomatoes who blithely bend over home-grown spring onions and garlic in the golden light of a sun that can belong only to Jaisalmer.


 

Photograph by Abhimanyu Singh.
Photograph by Abhimanyu Singh.

The Farm at The Serai is the source of all that is green on the menu in Camp. Carefully looked after and cultivated by seasoned hands – Chandrapal and Subhash – who will spend several hours each week, weeding and removing any extraneous growth from the carefully plotted beds where their greens grow. The Serai’s Farm is known for its unique produce, such as the desert mushroom or phoombi, which sprouts only once a year and is able to supply SUJÁN’s other camps too. The menu at The Serai is itself designed to make sure that fresh, organically produced greens – ash and manure are the only fertilisers used – are at the source of what goes on to it. This is also the domain of the camp’s Chef who is a daily visitor to these patches; plucking and checking and cutting and gathering the ingredients he needs for his kitchens and his cooking pots.

 

This week we take you to the heart of The Serai’s secret spot, which is the source of those delicious concoctions…

 

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The sun-kissed Farm at The Serai, Jaisalmer. Photograph by Abhimanyu Singh.
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Cabbages grow surprisingly well here. Photograph by Abhimanyu Singh.

 

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Seasoned hands watch over and weigh up everything that goes on at the Farm. Do not miss out the famous Tharparkar cattle breed, indigenous to this region and increasingly difficult to breed. The Serai’s herd is close to almost two dozen animals now. Photograph by Abhimanyu Singh.

 

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Hand plucked garlic, grown at the Farm is a critical ingredient for some of the dishes on the menu. Photograph by Abhimanyu Singh.
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Tomatoes and other greens fill up the Chef’s basket every day, on their way to the camp Kitchens. Photograph by Abhimanyu Singh.

 

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Cockerels, hens and chicks play in the farmyard. Photograph by Abhimanyu Singh.
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The Jaisalmer sun is clearly a boon for the greens. Photograph by Abhimanyu Singh.

 

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Freshly plucked produce is lined up for breakfast, which some guests at SUJÁN The Serai prefer to have at the Farm itself. Photograph by Abhimanyu Singh.

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