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Forgotten Indian Veggies

This was shared in our whatsapp community as part of reviving the ancient wisdom regular series. Join us to gain more wisdom!

These veggies may be rare and slowly disappearing from our plates, but they are bursting with flavors and nutrients that our bodies and souls crave. We have included common names in English and the botanical name only otherwise the post would be longer if we cover the native language names.

  1. Bread fruit – Artocarpus altilis Family of jackfruit & mulberry. It gets its name from the fact that its texture is often compared to that of freshly baked bread. While breadfruit is often cooked and eaten like a vegetable, it is actually a fruit that is harvested when it is mature but still unripe. When cooked, the flesh of the breadfruit is soft, creamy, and slightly sweet, with a mild flavor that is often compared to that of potatoes. Breadfruit is a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It is also a good source of complex carbohydrates, which can provide sustained energy. Because of its high nutritional value, breadfruit is sometimes referred to as a “superfood.”

  2. Sword Beans – Canavalia gladiata They are known for their long, slender pods that resemble a sword, hence their name. The pods of sword beans can grow up to 1.5 feet long and contain 6-12 seeds each. In addition to being used as a food source, sword beans are also used in traditional medicine in many cultures. They are believed to have various health benefits, such as reducing inflammation, lowering cholesterol levels, and improving digestion.

  3. Palmyra Sprout Also known as toddy palm sprouts or ice-apple, are the young shoots of the palmyra palm tree. It can be eaten raw or cooked and are often used in salads, soups, and stir-fries. You can also make flour out of and it and consume it several ways.

  4. Veldt Grape – Cissus quadrangularis A good source of calcium and may help to strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis. While we all might have seen the ordinary 4 sided(sathura pirandai, hence quadrangularis) pirandai, there are more in Nature like rounded one(mani/uruttu pirandai), 3 sided(muppirandai), sweet(inippu), flat ones(olai), puli(sour), wild pirandai, leaf pirandai(ilai) etc. Also if its nodes are close to each other, they are classified as female and if far apart, they are classified as male. If you are reluctant to grow, or go through the precautionary measures of cleaning them, our fast selling store products made using Pirandai – Pirandai idli podi, Pirandai Vathal/papad are here for your rescue!

  5. Turkey berry – Solanum torvum Apart from its medicinal properties, it is used as a food source in many parts of the world. The fruit is often used in cooking as a flavoring agent and is particularly popular in Indian, Thai, and Indonesian cuisines. A great source of iron and calcium. It can heal stomach aches and enhance digestion. Tamil cuisine’s famous recipe Vathal Kuzhambu, Angaya podi are made with dried turkey berries. Make sabjis/stir fries, kuzhambu or curries.

  6. Clove Beans – Ipomoea muricata The name came because it looks like clove. The name of this vegetable in Malayalam is “Nithya Vazhuthina”, literally means, ‘Daily Brinjal’. Once it grows and starts flowering, you will get the veggie almost daily!. You need to know the right stage of harvesting time as it matures very soon. There are 3-4 varieties, like green and white long ones, purple ones, green & white short ones etc. This creeper plant comes from the same family as Morning glory, but unlike morning glory which flowers in day time, Clove bean flowers in the evening.

  7. Winged Beans – Psophocarpus tetragonolobus They are so named because their pods have distinctively winged edges, which make them resemble small airplanes. A highly nutritious vegetable with a good source of protein, dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The plant is versatile and the entire plant, including its leaves, flowers, roots, and tubers, are edible and are used in different ways in different cuisines. The young and tender pods of the winged bean can be cooked and eaten like green beans, while the seeds can be cooked and eaten like peas or roasted and ground into flour. The leaves and flowers of the plant can be used in salads or cooked dishes, and the tubers can be boiled, roasted or fried and used in various recipes. It is also used in traditional medicine for various health benefits. They are relatively easy to grow and are an excellent addition to any vegetable garden or a healthy diet.

  8. Little WildGourd – Momordica cymbalaria A relative of bitter gourd but contains higher amounts of calcium, potassium, sodium, vitamin C and fiber than bittergourd. It can be used to make Poriyal,fry, pulikulambu, pickle, and vadagam etc. The fruits and tubers were used in the traditional medicine and as well as vegetable food by the tribal farmers. The fruits are useful in treating gout, rheumatism and sub-acute cases of the spleen and liver disease. The fruits juice and leaf tea of Little Wild Gourd is employed for diabetes, malaria, colic, sores and wounds, infections, worms and parasites, as an emmenagogue, and for measles, hepatitis, and fevers. Fruit pulp, leaf juice and seeds possess antihelimetic activity. This veggie is under threat of extinction.

  9. Giant Granadilla – Passiflora quadrangularis One of the largest fruit producing plant in the passiflora(passion fruit) family. Its a climber with squared sides(like Veldt Grape), hence the name ‘Quadrangularis’. While fruit is consumed as juice/beverage in some parts of the world, it is cooked as a vegetable for curries too. If you are growing this plant, if you can grow the passion fruit also, can help this plant to have more fruits. It is a tropical fruit that is not widely available in many parts of the world, but is certainly worth trying if you have the opportunity.

  10. Purple Yam – Dioscorea alata The plant is a type of yam and is related to other starchy root vegetables, such as sweet potato and cassava(tapioca).The root vegetable can be cooked in a variety of ways, including boiling, steaming, baking, or frying, and can be used to make everything from cakes and pastries to ice creams and jams. Purple yam is also a nutritious food, rich in complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and various vitamins and minerals. It is particularly high in potassium, which is important for maintaining healthy blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart diseases.

  11. Red Sorrel – Hibiscus sabdariffa Also known as Roselle, is a species of hibiscus plant. The one in poster is the edible calyces, which are the fleshy, cup-shaped structures that surround the seed pods of the plant. Red sorrel has a tart, fruity flavor and is used in a variety of culinary applications, including making teas, jams, jellies, sauces, and beverages. It is a good source of antioxidants, including vitamin C and anthocyanins, which are plant compounds that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and disease-fighting properties. Some studies have suggested that red sorrel may have beneficial effects on blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and liver health. The plant is also used in traditional medicine for a variety of purposes. The leaves and flowers of the plant are sometimes used to make a poultice that can be applied to the skin to help with inflammation, while the seeds of the plant are sometimes used to treat digestive problems.

  12. Red Okra If you ask anyone to tell the okra color they would say green color. But are you aware that there are many varieties out there? Red okra is one of the native variety. There are more, like elephant tusk, musk/wild okra etc. Red okra is a good source of dietary fiber, vitamins C and K, folate, and potassium. It also contains antioxidants, such as quercetin and rutin, which can help protect the body against cell damage. In terms of culinary uses, red okra can be prepared in a similar manner to green okra. It can be boiled, roasted, fried, or pickled, and can be used in a variety of dishes, such as soups, stews, and curries. Red okra can also be used in fresh salads, as a garnish, or as a colorful addition to vegetable platters.

Let us not forget the wisdom of our ancestors, who knew the value of these vegetables long before we did. By rediscovering them, we can learn to appreciate the bounty of nature and reconnect with our roots. So, let’s spread the joy of these forgotten veggies and inspire others to do the same. Let’s sow the seeds of love, beauty, and health in our hearts and in our communities. Archana.

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