HIGH ON NUTRIENTS
Moringa leaves are packed with nutrients, but very few know about it
Moringa leaves are popular in villages for their health benefits
RECENTLY, I saw a few maids plucking the leaves from a branch of a moringa tree near my house. I was a bit hesitant to interfere, but was curious about what they planned to do with the leaves.“We eat them,”they replied shyly. A do-gooder cable operator who was passing by stopped to listen to the conversation. He enquired further in Odia and told me that the leaves were a common food in rural areas.I asked the maids if they could share a few leaves, and they happily agreed. Since that day,my stock has gone up among the maids as they now identify me as someone who has a good understanding of food.
At home, childhood memories came flooding back.There used to be a beautiful moringa tree, with the juiciest of drumsticks,growing in our neighbour’s backyard. My mother would occasionally reach out of the window and pluck the leaves to make delicious sambar and curries. As a three-year-old, I was impressed.Moringa was the only food that was grown at home, while all other fruits and vegetables were bought from the market. I still thank my mother for inculcating in me the love for the tree through her delicious recipes.
Moringa leaves are known by different names— murungaielai in Tamil, munagachettuin Telugu, sahjanin Hindi, soijanin Bihar or drumstick in English. Raw leaves taste bitter, but the bitterness disappears on cooking. The leaves cook in just a few minutes and retain their bright green colour, which makes any moringa dish very appealing.
While the leaves are eaten in all parts of the country,they are popular in villages.In cities,they are considered infra dig. Neither the tree finds a place in manicured lawns nor do the leaves find a place of pride among the greens.
Moringa is a superfood with plenty of health benefits. Its curative properties are well documented in ayurvedic texts. It is said to be used in over 300 ayurvedic compositions. According to the Nutritive ValueofIndianFoods by C Gopalan,moringa leaves have seven times the vitamin C found in oranges,four