While eating leafy greens during monsoon is considered unsafe by most people, there are plenty of vegetables and greens that grow in the wild and are consumed by communities across the nation. Nutrient-dense, seasonal and delicious, these wild veggies should be foraged safely and eaten for their benefits. Here’s more on these incredible wild veggies of India.
Ask anybody and you will hear that during monsoon season, eating green leafy vegetables is not a great idea. And yet, in India, monsoon greens grow abundantly across all regions. These could be green leafy vegetables or simply green vegetables, but these wild greens are consumed during monsoon across different Indian communities. They are therefore an essential part of India’s culinary tapestry and you should know all about them.
Wild green vegetables grow abundantly in India during the monsoon season due to the increased availability of moisture and favorable climatic conditions. The monsoon brings heavy rains and high humidity, creating a suitable environment for the growth of various plant species, including wild greens. Additionally, the warm temperatures during the monsoon further contribute to the rapid growth of these plants.
Though growing wildly, these monsoon-special wild veggies are packed with nutrition. Wild green vegetables are often packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They can provide nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, and dietary fiber, which are beneficial for overall health. Some wild greens have natural detoxifying properties and may help in cleansing the body of toxins. What’s more, almost all Indian wild green veggies are also considered by Ayurveda as healing foods.
Yet, it is important to exercise caution when consuming wild greens, as not all wild plants are safe to eat. Some wild greens may be toxic or have harmful substances, especially if not correctly identified or prepared. It is crucial to gather wild greens only from clean and unpolluted areas and to have adequate knowledge or guidance from experienced foragers or experts before consuming them.
Here are 10 Indian wild green veggies that should be in your diet during monsoon season.
Video Credit: YouTube/Chef Sanjeev Kapoor
Kantola, also known as Spine Gourd or Teasel Gourd, is a vegetable that belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. It is commonly grown and consumed in various parts of India, especially during the monsoon season. Also known as Kakrol, this veggie is found in states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, West Bengal, Odisha, and parts of southern India. Used to make fries, pakodas, curries and more, Kantola has a unique taste, slightly bitter with a hint of sweetness, and its texture is crunchy.
Shevala, also known as Amorphophallus commutatus, is a tuberous plant that belongs to the Araceae family. It is commonly found in various parts of India, particularly in regions with a tropical or subtropical climate. Amorphophallus commutatus is known by various regional names such as Shevala, Suran, Jimikand, and Elephant Foot Yam. During the monsoon season, when the weather is favorable with ample moisture and warmth, Shevala is grown, harvested and cooked as curries, stir fry and more.
Dinda, also known as Leea indica, is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the Leeaceae family. It is commonly found in various parts of South and Southeast Asia, including countries like India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, and Malaysia. As a leafy vegetable, Dinda or Leea indica leaves are typically used in regional cuisines, especially in dishes such as curries, stir-fries, and soups. The leaves are often cooked to reduce their slight bitterness and enhance their flavors. They are valued for their nutritional content, which includes vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Also known as Celosia Argentea plant is native to tropical regions of Africa, Asia, and South America, and comes in various shades of red, pink, orange, yellow, and even purplish hues. The young leaves and tender shoots of certain Celosia species can be used as leafy greens in traditional cuisines of some regions. These edible varieties are not as widely known or cultivated as other leafy greens. As with any wild plant or lesser-known edible, it is essential to exercise caution and avoid consuming anything that might be toxic or harmful.
Bamboo shoots are the edible young sprouts of bamboo plants. They are a popular delicacy in many Asian cuisines, including Indian cuisine. Bamboo shoots are harvested when they are still tender and before they fully mature into woody stems. They have a mild, crunchy texture and a subtle, earthy flavor. In India, bamboo shoots are grown and harvested during the monsoon season in the northeastern states such as Assam, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, and Meghalaya.
Also known as water spinach, Anne Soppu is a semi-aquatic leafy green vegetable that belongs to the Ipomoea family. In India, water spinach is cultivated in various regions during the monsoon season, as it requires a significant amount of water to grow. It is particularly popular in states with coastal areas, such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, and West Bengal. Anne Soppu is used to make curries, sambhar and even stir-fried dishes in India.
Safed Musli, also known as Chlorophytum borivilianum, is a medicinal plant and herb. It is native to India and is primarily found in certain regions of the country, including Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Maharashtra. The tubers of this plant have been used in traditional Ayurvedic and Unani medicine for centuries due to their potential health benefits. While Safed Musli is primarily known for its medicinal properties, it is not commonly consumed as a vegetable or leafy green. It is mainly used in traditional medicine and herbal preparations.
Also known as Cassia Tora, Takla is an annual herb that belongs to the Caesalpiniaceae family. Cassia tora is native to South Asia but can be found growing in various parts of the world, including India, China, Pakistan, and other Southeast Asian countries. In traditional medicine systems like Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine, Cassia tora seeds and leaves are believed to have medicinal properties and are used to treat various health conditions.
Bharangi, also known as Barahangi or Bharngi, is a medicinal plant and herb rather than a leafy green vegetable. It is botanically classified as Clerodendrum serratum and belongs to the Verbenaceae family. The plant is native to the Indian subcontinent and is found in various regions of India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan. Bharangi is not commonly used as a culinary vegetable, and it is primarily used for its medicinal properties. In Ayurvedic medicine, Bharangi is believed to have several health benefits, including its use as an expectorant, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, and bronchodilator. It is often used to treat respiratory disorders like asthma, bronchitis, and coughs, as well as various inflammatory conditions.
Kuda, also known as Holarrhena pubescens, is a medicinal plant rather than a commonly used culinary vegetable. It belongs to the family Apocynaceae and is native to various parts of India, Southeast Asia, and some regions of Africa. It is valued for its medicinal properties and has been used in traditional medicine systems like Ayurveda and traditional folk medicine for various health issues. The plant contains several bioactive compounds that are believed to have therapeutic effects. The plant is often used in stir-fries and curries in rural India.