Moringa has been used for generations in the sub-continent as an addition to our diets, both the pods or phalli as well as the flowers. Locally refererred to as sohajna, the pods with their unripe seeds are traditionally used in daals and curries while the flower would be cooked with mince meat. But it was never a particularly fashionable food.
Recently, however, the humble sohajna, botanical name moringa oleifera, has burst into the the limelight as a super food. Since the West has discovered the multiple benefits of the plant, moringa leaf powder is being dried and marketed as a supplement in both powder form or in capsules. The dried leaf and flowers are being used to brew tea.
This plant is well deserving of this sudden catapult to glory. The benefits of this tree, which grows so abundantly in our climate, are manifold and we would do well to start incorporating it into our diets.
The moringa leaf is packed with nutrients: protein, vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Iron, B2, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, K, calcium and magnesium. The pods are lower in the other nutrients but pack an impressive dollop of Vitamin C.
Since it is so packed with good stuff, its benefits are also manifold.
- It helps strengthen the immune system.
2. It is rich in anti oxidants which help significantly in lowering blood pressure.
3. Typically used in traditional medicines, it is used to treat diabetes and lower blood glucose levels.
4. A rich source of Vitamin A and E makes this a healthy tonic for your skin and will help keep you looking younger.
5. Moringa has also been used in traditional medicine to help counter stress.
6. Being a rich source of magnesium and calcium, moringa is good for strengthening bones and is known for pain relief in conditions such as arthritis.
7. Moringa has known anti-inflammatory properties which is of great benefit to patients of asthma and other allergies.
Moringa is an excellent dietary addition and this marvellous tree yields all its parts for consumption, whether the leaf, pods, flowers or even the bark. Here is an old family favourite moringa recipe.
Moringa phalli daal
1/2 cup masoor daal
1/2 tsp crushed garlic
1/2 an onion chopped
salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon tumeric
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
8 0r 10 moringa pods cut into two-inch pieces.
2 tbsp tamarind paste
For the Tarka
cumin seeds or zeera
a few slivers of garlic
Put all the first group of ingredients into a pot and add two cups of water. When the daal is softened, add the morninga pods. You can also add some fresh moringa leaves at this point.
Continue to cook until the pods appear cooked. Add the tamarind paste and simmer for another ten minutes.
Add tarka with the curry leaves, cumin and garlic slivers.
Eat with plain boiled rice for a super nutritious and yummy meal.