The mangrove ferns grow in large numbers along the estuarine streams and salty marshes of Goa. In some areas they are quite invasive and have moved in and taken over abandoned rice fields and choked off the old water ways.
As the monsoon rains begin, the mangrove ferns put out new leaves and set out to conquer new territories.
The young fronds, known as ‘fiddleheads’, because of their curly ends, are collected by local villagers and sold as a seasonal vegetable , ‘ ankur/ akhuri’. It is crisp and tastes like asparagus and is used as a delicious substitute by local chefs.
My friend , Candice, who is an Australian chef just loves the fiddleheads. She hadn’t known where they came from.When I pointed out the vast expanses of the mangrove ferns , growing in the marshes to her, she wanted to immediately plunge in and harvest some. I only managed to hold her back by pointing out that the plants stood in knee deep and tropical marshes are full of leeches.; which on second thoughts is not strictly correct as leeches stay away from salt water, but I didnt tell her that. 🙂