Jazz Up Your Breakfast Table With The Vivacious Rosella Jam
Image Credit: Reema Gowalla

Its curiously spiky, bulb-like structure, vivid red colour and uncanny resemblance to cranberries in taste are among the first things you will notice about the roselle flowers (or hibiscus sabdariffa). A quick round on Google search will tell you about the plethora of health benefits that these flowers of African origin are associated with. Ladened with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties among others, rosella can help ease menstrual pain, digestion, blood pressure, anxiety and even aid in managing body weight as well as symptoms of cold and fever. 

If Jamaican sorrel, java jute and Florida cranberry are the only names you have heard this flower being referred to as, it’s time you turn to the northeast of India, where it is lovingly called mesta tenga - a home chef’s favourite just as much as it is a gardener’s. Distinctly tall and dipped in the colour palette of red and green, you can’t miss looking at this tropical shrub that often shows off its foliage and blooms. It’s a perennial plant that propagates from seed. 

Roselle tea is quite famous among lovers of herbal beverages, thanks to its sweet and tarty flavour. What is not known much about are this wonder flower’s myriad culinary secrets. The flowers apart, its leaves, stems and calyx have also been found tiptoeing into the kitchen to jazz up your salads, juices, syrups, chutneys and a host of other slurpy eats.

Also known as tenga mora among the indigenous communities of the interiors of Assam and Nagaland, rosella leaves are used in dal, masor tenga (sour fish curry) as well as chicken and pork curry. However, the more popular rosella delicacy in this part of the country is the vivacious jam made from its red fruit. 

All you need to make this delicious jam at home are the rosella fruit (about 500 gms), sugar (about one cup) and water (about half a cup). The procedure is simple and can be done in no time. First, remove the seeds and wash the fruit in water. Then, grind the fruit pieces with half cup of water in a mixer, keeping the consistency you prefer. Following that, grind the sugar and make a syrup out of it in a saucepan. After some time, add the fruit paste to the sugar syrup in the pan and keep stirring until it thickens a bit and gives off a sweet and sour aroma. Your red roselle jam is now ready to be relished. You can store it in a glass jar for a couple of months.