Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The benefits of miracle tree 'Moringa'

The recipes and cuisines vary from place to place and get customised according to the tradition and culture. The teraibasi (the inhabitants of southern plains in Nepal), especially the Tharus, have developed unique cuisines of locally available ingredients. The recipes have been adopted by others with the passage of time but still the dishes cooked by Tharus have something special about them. For instance, they have been using flax seeds (linseed powder) to garnish the curry of snails (ghonghi), drumstick and bamboo shoots which is not common among other communities. And that makes the curry more delicious!  

While the locally available vegetables are not a big hit among Nepalis in general, slowly they are gaining popularity. One of such neglected but nutritious vegetables is drumstick.

Moringa flowers and pods

Drumstick, locally called 'munga', 'sahajan','swejan', is a superfood in the West. Moringa oleifera, one of the most useful trees, lie unattended and uncared at most of the places in the southern plains of Nepal. Nobody cares to propagate this immensely useful tree. Instead, they are uprooted and thrown away if they grow near a house – to ward off the army of caterpillars munching on the juicy leaves.

The tree branches, however, are used as bio-fences. The branches grow into trees quickly and the plant needs not much water or soil nutrients to grow. The branches can be easily lopped off and the leaves are also used as fodder for the goats. And the goats like it!

Our folks in Terai never thought of cooking the leaves although they are used in soups and curries in neighbouring India. It was always thought as poor man’s diet – only the fruits, resembling drumsticks are cooked and eaten. However, it’s becoming popular these days with the demand from urban centres. The young fruits called jokiya in local language due to its jonk (leech) like shape are lip-smacking. The ripe fruits that take triangular shape on their maturity have hard seeds and one needs to get rid of them before cooking. But still the drumstick curry is finger-licking delicious.

The wonder tree Moringa oleifera is a fast growing, drought resistant tree. The pods are source of all vitamins and minerals. It has Vitamin C seven times than that of an orange, Vitamin A four times than that of a carrot, Calcium four times than that of milk, Potassium there times than that of a banana, and protein three times than that of curd. According to Ayurveda, drumstick can cure 300 different diseases.

And still it is considered a poor man's vegetable and no one cultivates it commercially!

What a pity!

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